National attention about pedophilia has grown because of recent high-profile cases of child sexual abuse. In this special article in the April issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Ryan Hall, M.D. and Richard Hall, M.D., son and father, take an in-depth look at the definition of pedophilia, characteristics of offenders, recidivism, treatment outcomes and forensic issues. Dr. Ryan Hall is a resident in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Dr. Richard Hall is in private psychiatry practice in Florida.
The authors address research that defines the various types and categories of pedophilia, review data on child molestation and pornography, and briefly discuss the theories on why an individual develops a sexual orientation toward children.
The article also examines how researchers can determine whether someone is a pedophile, potential treatments for the victim and the abuser, and the effects of mandatory reporting laws.
The authors hope knowledge of this issue will result in better treatments, improved allocation of resources, and most importantly, a reduction in the number of abused children.