Profile and Common Characteristics of a Pedophile

Child with an adult's hand around her stomach

Doug Plummer / Getty Images

Pedophilia is a psychiatric disorder in which an adult or older adolescent is sexually attracted to young children. Pedophiles can be anyone—old or young, rich or poor, educated or uneducated, non-professional or professional, and of any race. However, pedophiles often demonstrate similar characteristics. These are merely indicators and it should not be assumed that individuals with these characteristics are pedophiles. But knowledge of these characteristics coupled with questionable behavior can be used as an alert that someone may be a pedophile.

Profile and Behavior

  • Often male and over 30 years of age.
  • Single or with few friends in his age group.
  • Some have mental illness, such as a mood or personality disorder.
  • If married, the relationship is more "companion" based with no sexual relations in the early stages.
  • Vague about time gaps in employment which may indicate a loss in employment for questionable reasons or possible past incarceration.
  • Often talk to or treat children like adults.

Interests and Hobbies

  • Often fascinated with children and child activities, appearing to prefer those activities to adult oriented activities.
  • Often refer to children in pure or angelic terms using descriptive words like innocent, heavenly, divine, pure, and other words that describe children but seem inappropriate and exaggerated.
  • Hobbies are childlike, such as collecting popular expensive toys, keeping reptiles or exotic pets, or building plane and car models.

Specific Age Targets

  • Specific age of child they target; some prefer younger children, some older.
  • Often his environment or a special room will be decorated in child-like decor and will appeal to the age and sex of the child he is trying to entice.
  • Often prefer children close to puberty who are sexually inexperienced, but curious about sex.


In most cases, the pedophile turns out to be someone known to the child through school or another activity, such as a neighbor, teacher, coach, member of the clergy, music instructor, or babysitter. Family members like mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles, cousins, stepparents, and so on may also be sexual predators.


The pedophile will often be employed in a position that involves daily contact with children. If not employed, he will put himself in a position to do volunteer work with children, often in a supervisory capacity such as sports coaching, contact-sport instruction, unsupervised tutoring or a position where he has the opportunity to spend unsupervised time with a child.

The pedophile often seeks out shy, handicapped, and withdrawn children, or those who come from troubled homes or underprivileged homes. He then showers them with attention, gifts, taunting them with trips to desirable places like amusement parks, zoos, concerts, the beach, and other such places.

Pedophiles work to master their manipulative skills and often unleash them on troubled children by first becoming their friend, building the child's self-esteem. They may refer to the child as special or mature, appealing to their need to be heard and understood, to then entice them with adult activities with sexual content like x-rated movies or pictures. Grooming like this often goes along with consumption of alcohol or drugs to hamper the ability to resist or recall events that occurred. Minor children cannot consent, and sex without consent is rape.

Stockholm Syndrome

It is not unusual for the child to develop feelings for the predator and desire their approval and continued acceptance. They will compromise their innate ability to decipher good and bad behavior, ultimately justifying the criminal's bad behavior out of sympathy and concern for the adult's welfare. This is often compared to Stockholm Syndrome—when victims become attached emotionally to their captors.

Friendship With Parents

Many times pedophiles will develop a close relationship with a single parent in order to get close to their children. Once inside the home, they have many opportunities to manipulate the children—using guilt, fear, and love to confuse the child. If the child's parent works, it offers the pedophile the private time needed to abuse the child.

Fighting Back

Pedophiles work hard at stalking their targets and will patiently work to develop relationships with them. It is not uncommon for them to be developing a long list of potential victims at any one time. Many of them believe that what they are doing is not wrong and that having sex with a child is actually "healthy" for the child.

Almost all pedophiles have a collection of pornography, which they protect at all costs. Many of them also collect "souvenirs" from their victims. They rarely discard either their porn or collections for any reason.

One factor that works against the pedophile is that eventually the children will grow up and recall the events that occurred. Often pedophiles are not brought to justice until such time occurs and victims are angered by being victimized and want to protect other children from the same consequences.

Laws such as Megan's Law—a federal law passed in 1996 that authorizes local law enforcement agencies to notify the public about convicted sex offenders living, working or visiting their communities, have helped expose the pedophile and allows parents to better protect their children.

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Montaldo, Charles. "Profile and Common Characteristics of a Pedophile." ThoughtCo, Jul. 30, 2021, Montaldo, Charles. (2021, July 30). Profile and Common Characteristics of a Pedophile. Retrieved from Montaldo, Charles. "Profile and Common Characteristics of a Pedophile." ThoughtCo. (accessed August 4, 2021).