I’m a 23 year old male, and I have kind of a strange question for you. So, when I was younger and growing up, I was improved in a youth leadership development program. When I got too old to participate in it as one of the kids, I became one of the adult leaders. I am now finding myself getting involved in more and more youth groups, everything from youth leadership development groups to youth community service groups. I do have feelings for these kids, but not in any sexual way. These feelings are more like the way I feel about family or close friends. I don’t have any types of “sexual fantasies” about these kids, and I would never hurt one of them in any way. I want to help them and see them be the absolute best person that they can be. In my occupation as a firefighter/paramedic, I always want to be the one on the pediatric calls just because in my mind I believe that I can care for them better than others at my department and I want the kids to get the best possible care (which in all reality, the other paramedics can give just as good of care). So, my question is, since I am obsessed with kids and youth groups, am I becoming a pedophile?
A. Pedophilia involves the sexual attraction to prepubescent children, generally under the age of 13. According to the DSM-IV-TR, the onset of pedophilia typically begins in adolescence though some have reported that they did not experience arousal by children until middle age. To be diagnosed with pedophilia, an individual would have had to experience, over a period of at least six months, recurrent and intense sexual arousal, fantasies or sexual urges toward a child 13 years old or younger, and to have acted upon those sexual urges.
No information was provided about your sexual history or sexual orientation but you did explicitly state that you do not have sexual fantasies about children. You also stated that you feel about these children the way you feel about close friends and family. I cannot know this with certainty because of the very limited information provided but in the absence of sexual attraction toward children, it seems unlikely that you are at risk of becoming a pedophile.
Pedophilia is a horrific crime that ruins the lives of innocent children, families and communities. If you continue to be concerned about this issue, then meet with a mental health professional for an evaluation. Let me emphatically state that you have a responsibility to take every conceivable precaution to prevent the harm of innocent children. Please take care.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 5 Aug 2012
Randle, K. (2012). Am I Becoming A Pedophile?. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/08/05/am-i-becoming-a-pedophile/