It is estimated that from one in five to most men exhibit some attraction to children or pubescent adolescents (Goode, 2010, pp. 19-20; Blanchard, 2012), and that for 0.5% to 7% of all males, this attraction is preferential (Abel & Harlow, 2001; Farella, 2002; Feierman, 1990; West, 1998). Minor attraction in females is not well-researched, but what few studies have been done generally conclude a lower prevalence. This lower prevalence has been attributed to a number of factors — for instance, the general tendency of women to prefer older partners (Pedersen, 2017; Joyal, Cossette, & Lapierre, 2015; Smiljanich & Briere, 1996).

The mechanisms by which minor attraction develops are unknown, but it is currently speculated that the further the attraction is from the teleiophilic (adult-attracted) standard, the rarer it is. Thus, an attraction to pubescent adolescents (hebephilia) may be more common than an attraction to prepubescent children (pedophilia), and an attraction to infants and toddlers (nepiophilia) is assumed to be rarer than an attraction to prepubescent children (Seto, 2016).

References

Abel, G. & Harlow, N. (2001). The Stop Child Molestation Book. Xlibris.

Blanchard, R., Kuban, M.E., Blak, T., Klassen, P.E., Dickey, R., & Cantor, J.M. (2012). Sexual Attraction to Others: A Comparison of Two Models of Alloerotic Responding in Men. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 41, 13-29.

Farella, C. (2002). The unthinkable problem of pedophilia. Nursing Spectrum. July 1, 2002. Retrieved from http://community.nursingspectrum.com/MagazineArticles/article.cfm?AID=7084.

Feierman, J. (1990). Pedophilia: Biosocial Dimensions. New York: Springer-Verlag.

Goode, S. (2010). Understanding and Addressing Adult Sexual Attraction to Children: A study of paedophiles in contemporary society. Oxford, UK: Routledge.

Joyal, C.C., Cossette, A., & Lapierre, V. (2015). What Exactly Is an Unusual Sexual Fantasy? The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 12(2), 328-340.

Pedersen, M.R. (2017). The Politics of being a Pedophile: An anthropological exploration of political engagements and narratives among minor attracted people (Master’s thesis). Aarhus University, Aarhus, DK.

Seto, M.C. (2016). The Puzzle of Male Chronophilias. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 46, 3-22. doi: 10.1007/s10508-016-0799-y.

Smiljanich, K. & Briere, J. (1996). Self-reported sexual interest in children: Sex differences and psychosocial correlates in a university sample. Violence & Victims, 11(1), 39-50.

West, D. J. (1998). Boys and sexual abuse: An English opinion. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 27, 539-559.