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Pedophobic NGO vigilance campaign in the Philippines, 1984

In the context of MAPs, pedophobia is an abnormal and irrational fear of all things related to "pedophilia" (using a definition so broad as to ignore its actual meaning). Since this fear is a social phenomenon, the target is very broad - including irrational disapproval towards representations of teenage bodies, censorship, and antagonism towards acceptance of prevention-oriented mental health and fellowship programs for MAPs. The LGBT community are one highly prominent victim of displaced pedophobia, as per the 2020s grooming panic.


The term stems from the roots pedo ("child") and phobia ("fear or aversion"). So its literal morphological meaning would be "fear of children" or "aversion to children". Semantically, a more appropriate term for aversion to pedophiles would be pedophilophobia. However, the word is shortened to allow for a smoother pronunciation and spelling.

A very similar case occurs with the word "homophobia", whose literal meaning based solely on its morphology would be "fear of/aversion to (things that are) the same", while homosexophobia would more accurately describe aversion to homosexuals.

Mechanism and public awareness

Within a social media context, pedophobia manifests itself as a mental block, where the participant openly states that no amount of evidence will be able to convince them that attraction to minors can be acceptable. This failure to discriminate becomes apparent when anti-pedophiles react identically to anti-contact and pro-c MAPs - demonstrating their generalized, visceral disgust towards MAPs themselves, rather than their varying stances on Age of Consent reform and sex with minors. It is often suggested that reaction formation might be the cause of pedophobia. This has some support, based upon previous studies on homosexuals and the existence of numerous individuals who expressed loathing of MAPs prior to committing sex crimes involving minors.

A 2004 British study reported that 58% of participants agreed that the media had created a "witch-hunt" against pedophiles.[1]

Societal and Institution-level Pedophobia

Pedophobia, and its counterpart ageism, can be seen most notably at the societal level - in the form of consent and child pornography laws. Some states also prevent sex offenders from voting, even when other classes of criminal have been given the vote. This disproportionately targets and disenfranchises MAPs.

One example of almost ritualistic pedophobic "purgation" was the congressional condemnation of the Rind et al paper - a work that at no point mentioned the word "pedophile", but provoked multiple accusations of pedophile "propaganda". Institutional pedophobia is also observable in employment and education, with trustees of charities losing their positions, and teachers being fired or transferred after suspicions of non-criminal pedophilic orientation, or unfashionable views/statements on the topic (e.g. Alison Thorne, Peter Melzer, Mark Miner, Amber Parker, Richard Yuill).

As recently as 2022, the Russian state has passed pedophobic and censorious laws, imposing considerably more punitive fines on "pedophile", than "gay" "propagandists".[2][3] One obvious irony of this scheme of censorship, is that Russia has been accused of propagating hoax pedophilia advocacy in the US.

Slang terms

  • Paedo (British/Australian), Pedo (American)
  • Kiddy Fiddler/Diddler/KF
  • Baby-raper
  • Rockspider audio linked (Australian, not to be confused with use by Rhodesians, in reference to Boers - Dutch South Africans)
  • Nonce/Nonse (British, Sometimes said to derive from old English prison slang. Possibly a "backronym": not on normal courtyard exercise)
  • Pred or Predophile (American)
  • Uncle Chester/Chester the Molester/Herbert the Pervert
  • Podesta (Pizzagate, American, deriving from conspiracy theories surrounding the Podesta Brothers and the name's phonetic similarity to "pedophile" + "molester")
  • Perv
  • ChoMo/Cho (Child Molester, American)
  • Moe Lester (internet)
  • Chickenhawk/Chicken Chaser (70s-90s US reference to a pederast)
  • Bush Dodger (British, novel)
  • Diaper Sniper (American)
  • Pedovore (American, used by Absolute Zero commenters)
  • Paedosadist (British, Anonymous, largely redundant from mid-10s[4])
  • Pédocriminal(ité) (French)
  • Short Eyes (American)
  • Sexual Deviate (American, mid-20th Century/archaic, and intended to include molesters, transgenders, effeminate or publicly active homosexuals. Pronounced with a silent "e")


A stereotypical "Pedovan"

There are many pedophobic stereotypes, and their nature may vary according to locality. Often, pedophiles are imagined as basement dwellers, probably IQ <90, overweight or gaunt and rat-like with prescription-type spectacles. They hide behind a computer screen, using crude techniques to entrap the vulnerable, only retreating from these activities to watch re-runs of Star Trek.[5]


The infamous stereotype of a pedophile, with his trenchcoat, sweets in pockets, lurking around bushes in parks/near playgrounds or in a car waiting to lure some child off to kidnap, rape and then murder is one example of pedophobia, generally propagated by the gutter-press.

Brass Eye (British comedy series) released a 2001 special edition now casually referred to as Paedogeddon - a spoof-documentary scripted and in part performed by the reclusive comedian Chris Morris, airing on the UK's Channel 4. It exposed the pedophobic cultural/media trends prevalent at that time. The program was itself attacked in the press, fulfilling the prophecies of the scriptwriter.


An extension of the trenchcoat stereotype has been the Pedovan - a popular meme, related to psychopathic criminals such as Earl Shriner, who designed such a van in prison. This is usually a battered Ford Aerostar or similar standard wheelbase commercial, with the words "free candy" scrawled on the side. The interior of the pedovan is a child-pornography studio lined with shagpile carpet, and has a TARDIS-like quality. Owing to its absurdity and association with late 20th Century popular hysteria, the pedovan is used more often to mock the common cliches surrounding child abduction, than as an attack on pedophiles


Various online memes are used to signal pedophobic sentiment, including:

  • The woodchipper, or so-called "pedophile recycling center". According to online legend, the pedophile must be fed "feet first" into the woodchipper.
  • The "red flag", intended for use in situations where a person has not admitted to pedophilic inclinations, but has given off a strong signal.
  • Chris Hansen's face suddenly appearing as a riposte to "inappropriate" discussion of minors and age-gap relationships. His presence is synonymous with the Dateline: To Catch a Predator series, in which entrapment was practiced against men showing a sexual interest in fictional minors.
  • "Ok, groomer" (a variation of "ok, boomer") has also been employed in recent years, gaining popularity among the alternative-right.
  • Other memes place emphasis on the necessity of exterminating pedophiles, such as captioning guns and boxes of ammunition as a "cure" for pedophilia. One repeatedly used meme suggests gun violence as an answer to the work of Allyn Walker, which famously challenged the stigma on MAPs.



See also: Special Article: Adverse effects of hysteria.
  • Massacres such as the ClubQ mass shooting and Dunblane have resulted directly from the propagation of pedophobia in the media and throughout institutions. Gayle Rubin was targeted, albeit without success by the same vigilante known for his attack on Paul Pelosi.
  • The glorification of child-hating. This is because the hatred of children might be seen as excusing a person from being labeled a pedophile, particularly in situations where children are exposed to that person. Both Richard Griffiths and Jimmy Savile are known to have resorted to ritualistic expressions of child hating - the latter being both attracted to minors and paraphilic during a time the pedophile hysteria was gathering pace.
  • Minors may in some jurisdictions be persecuted for sex acts with other minors, or put into therapy against their will. We have seen examples of aversion therapy and penile plethysmography being used on boys.
  • Minors might become anxious about their own attraction to other minors, believing this to be abnormal.
  • Minors are never complimented on their appearance, due to social taboos. This may result in poor self-esteem, depression, self-harm and eventually the irrational hatred of MAPs, since they believe minors are meant to be unattractive. This is exacerbated when the person is harboring hebephilic/pedophilic tendencies as they grow up.
  • In turn, the resulting stunted and repressed adults deprive the next generation of affection, and the cycle continues.
  • Transgenerational transmission of values is made difficult as a result; the young miss mentoring opportunities and life skills that might benefit them in the future.
  • We see an increase in involuntary-celibate (incel) males who have internalized sexual neuroses in their childhood, and end up emotionally stunted. Counterintuitively, this contributes to the breakdown of traditional values, family structure and causes demographic decline. Increasingly strict Age of Consent laws are correlated with declining fertility.
  • The young are deprived of sexual pleasures during the time of their life where they are most receptive to it - their teen years. Those who are lucky enough to experience sexual pleasure are limited to inexperienced peers who are often unlearned like them, resulting in sometimes awkward and disappointing experiences.


See also - Research: The Dangers of Stigma

A small but growing body of research has been carried out, not only on the effects of stigma, but on the pedophobic attitudes themselves. Here, we focus on the latter.


Pedophobia is based on a complex negative stereotype which is a set of consistently repeated biased statements about a pedophile. James Hunter lists these common assumptions as following:[7]

1. He is set aside from most people in that he finds children sexually arousing.

2. He is a predator—a violent, dangerous man who forces himself on children.

3. His activities are always traumatizing and cause great harm to the victims.

4. He is unable to control himself and will always “re-offend.”

5. Although he may speak of himself as motivated by an ethic of love, the “pedophile” is actually driven by hate.

6. He is a brutish, disgusting, primitive, freak.

This goes along with constructing and sustaining the complementary stereotype of youth who is erotically sterile and in need of protection of their innocence.[8][9]

Politicians, the public, and the media feed into each other maintainig pedophobia. The media and popular culture, in particular, play a crucial role in shaping and perpetuating negative stereotypes surrounding MAPs and youth-adult sexual relationships. Both fictional and journalistic portrayals consistently reveal interconnected themes of “villains” (pedophiles), “victims” (innocent youth), and “heroes” (those who fight pedophiles).[10] Irresponsible media prevents any shift in public perceptions. Instead of taking responsibility for more accurate portrayal of the subject, the media tends to be simply mirroring the public lay perceptions that the media itself has previously created.[11] The longevity of these images can be attributed to their familiarity within society and their repeated use for entertainment purposes and as a voyeuristic outlet for forbidden desires.[7][8][9][10]

The politicians depend on the public for votes, so they feed back to the public, making harsh social policies and censorship, which in turn makes realistic views less accessible to the public. But pedophobia by itself has political uses by the religious right, the political and economic elite:[7]

  • to further agenda of sexual repression;
  • to distract people from dealing with social, political, and economic problems;
  • to establish a machinery of repression and control to keep all citizens in line.

Also, there are many additional perpetuating social factors mentioned by J.Hunter:[7]

• The sex abuse network that has grown up around this image provides both money and prestige to its workers—many of whom are able to rise to positions of prominence as “experts.”

• Individuals who may be in some subliminal way aware of their own pedophilic impulses need to project this shadow side of their nature onto someone else as a way of not owning these feelings.

• By distancing themselves from, and even joining in on the demonization of the pedophile, gay and lesbian groups can enhance the possibility of their acceptance in the mainstream of society.

• Some feminists may use the pedophile, who is usually male, as a whipping boy on which they can revenge themselves for the slights and insults they have experienced at the hands of men.

• Perhaps some politicians are concerned that the conflict between divergent groups within the United States might get out of hand and cause serious harm to the country and they might see an advantage in the existence of a common enemy to rally against as a means of attaining a national cohesion—much as happened in Germany in relation to the Jews.

Addressing pedophobic attitudes

A small number of researchers have started to address the topic of stigma against people with an attraction to minors, and how best to counter it.

"Several studies (Cacciatori, 2017; Grady et al. 2019; Lievesley et al., 2020; Moss, 2019a; Muir, 2018) identified a problematic secrecy-stigma paradox, that is, stigma generates secrecy of the sexual interest, but wider exposure of the existence of the attraction is highlighted as an integral element of stigma reduction. [...] Goffman (1963) proposes that over time, familiarization and increased frequency of contact leads to normalization and acceptance of the difference present in a stigmatized individual or group. It could therefore be argued that increased visibility has the potential to reduce the effects of stigma by encouraging more individuals to disclose their attraction"
"Harper et al. (2018) and Wurtele (2018 ) saw educational interventions [...] were able to decrease negative affective responses and improve attitudes toward treatment by decreasing support for punitive punishment. [...] Participants in Parr and Pearson (2019) discussed that education campaigns (through social media and sex education in schools) should emphasize the importance of the stable nature of the sexual interest, and behavioral choices and responsibility which shifts focus away from secrecy and shame."
narrative-based depictions:
" Boardman and Bartels (2018), Gunnarsdottir (2018), Harper et al. (2018), Harper et al. (2019), Jahnke et al. (2015), and Wurtele (2018) found narrative-based depictions of individuals with sexual interest in children had the effect of reducing stigmatization via the processes of humanization. These studies consistently found that presenting tangible and accurate representations of persons with sexual interest in children who had not offended (compared to conflating the attraction and offending) had a significant effect of improving attitudes toward this population".
person-first language for public discourse:
"Lowe and Willis (2020) found [...] that offense-based labels like “sex offender” or “murderer” were associated with less willingness among community members to do volunteer work with these groups as compared to neutral person first language (e.g., “people who have committed crimes of a sexual nature”). To challenge labels and reduce their effects, we recommend that researchers use person-first language, particularly if it is to filter through to public discourse."
usage of a positive framing instead of myth negation:
"The framing of questions and statements within measurement tools is of vital importance (particularly when challenging stigma) as evoking myths in an attempt to negate them, in fact, reinforces them (Schwarz et al., 2016). [...] Research on “valence framing” effects suggests that attitude intensity is increased by the use of negative frames (Bizer et al., 2011). [...] [C]onsider including statements such as people with sexual interest in children can control their interests, can achieve psychological wellbeing or can build relationships with adults."
narrative intervention may be preferrable than psychoeducation:
"Harper and colleagues (2022) compared two anti-stigma interventions, both 5-minute videos, one scientific fact-based video delivered by an expert, and the other using narrative humanization techniques. [...] Most notably, although reduced stigma was more pronounced in the information video in the immediate period following exposure, the narrative condition did not produce the same level of bounce-back, meaning that the longevity in attitudinal change may hold longer in narrative condition."
psychoeducation may increase negative responses but it's not a major problem:
"[S]imilar to Jara and Jeglic (2021) Harper et al. (2022) found purely fact-based education increased immediate negative effects in terms of increased perceptions of deviance, leading them to conclude that intervention relying only on factual information may inadvertently reinforce the negative perceptions of minor attraction. [...] [T]he present findings are inconsistent with Jara and Jeglic’s (2021) findings, and [...] goes some way to alleviate concerns raised by them regarding potential negative consequences of educating the public[...]"
The low prevalence of pedophilia [1,2,3,4,5] and secret-keeping due to fear of rejection (e.g., [42]) make it unlikely that most people will knowingly have first-hand experiences with individuals with pedophilia. Nevertheless, as previously described, most people have a concept of individuals with pedophilia in their mind which is rather pejorative (e.g., [34]). Based on communication science theories such as the cultivation theory [45,46], it can be assumed that these individual concepts of pedophilia are derived from media coverage since it serves as second-hand experience by informing society about pedophilia. Therefore, persons with pedophilia as well as recipients depend on the media reporting about pedophilia accurately, thus shaping appropriate second-hand experiences [47].
Media coverage is determined by news factors and/or news values. This means that characteristics such as proximity, damage, or personalization structure the selection of events, and thus certain events are more likely to be reported than others [48,49]. Hence, media reporting on some topics may be biased ([48], also see [47]). To counteract this bias and to protect people who are the subject of media reporting, ethical journalistic standards are established in many countries worldwide [50,51]. [...] However, in the case of pedophilia and pedophilic disorder, comprehensive recommendations are currently lacking. Typical media coverage of pedophilia is characterized by primarily mentioning the subject in the context of severe and current cases of CSA (news factor: damage [48,49]). Thereby, media coverage tends to conflate pedophilia and CSA in the public consciousness [14,15,56,57,58]. For instance, Marc Dutroux, who was found guilty of sexually abusing and killing several children and teenagers in Belgium, was referred to as a “pedophile” in the media, even though his psychological evaluation found that he was not sexually attracted to children, but had other motives for his crimes (e.g., antisocial personality disorder, making profit by selling child sexual exploitation material; [59], also see [60]).”
narrative and informative interventions are both effective:
“Previous research indicates that first-person narratives are more effective than informative interventions in reducing stigmatizing attitudes, by way of potentially reversing the process of dehumanization (Harper et al., 2018, 2021; Harper & Hogue, 2015; Jahnke, Philipp, et al., 2015). However, the humanizing narrative intervention in this study was equally effective in increasing pity and reducing negative affective responses, as well as decreasing social distance, deviance, and increasing supportive attitudes as the informative intervention.”
negative reactions to information may be a short term effect due to rigidity of attitudes, therefore persistence is necessary:
“Rydell et al. (2007) [...] suggested that the attitudinal shift was a result of the continued accumulation of information influencing the attitudinal process. Indeed, the results from Harper et al. (2021) showed negative affective responses continued and even increased, despite cognitive changes in understanding empirically accurate information regarding sexual interest in children. Similarly, Jara and Jeglic (2021) found psychoeducation intervention increased punitive attitudes within a public sample. Thus, as attitudes regarding people who have these sexual interests have developed over an extended period, it is recommended that future research employ repeated interventions in attempts to promote sustained attitudinal changes.”
benefits of stigma reducing:
“The process of reversing the effects of stigma has the bifold benefits of enhancing the psychological well-being of people with sexual interest in children and reducing the help-seeking barriers they face.”
a problem with labels in general:
"labels may also carry negative connotations (Mendelsohn et al., 2020), contribute to public stigma (Granello & Gibbs, 2016), or be experienced as derogatory or ill-fitting (Dunn & Andrews, 2015)"
person-first labels are problematic in professional discourse because of devaluing sexuality:
"person-first labels [e.g. "a person with pedophilia"] were the target of much criticism because of their implication that pedophilia is undesirable, unwanted, and innately pathological (see also Martijn et al., 2020 where this was among the least popular self-labels). Both qualitative and quantitative findings suggest that people who are sexually attracted to children prefer to embrace their sexuality as part of their identity and want this to be reflected in the professional discourse as well."
the "MAP" label may be better suited for public discourse because it is free of criminal connotations:
"there is evidence that interventions that educate about the distinction between a sexual attraction to children and sexual offending lead to a decrease in stigmatizing attitudes among students, health professionals, or members of the general public [...] Therefore, by shedding the criminal connotations of the label “pedophilia,” labels like “minor-attracted person” could help the public understand the difference between having a sexual attraction toward children and committing sexual crimes with child victims"
but "pedophile" label may be beneficial if used publicly by pedophiles themselves:
"Some participants in this study expressed views in favor of reappropriating the “pedophilia” label as a way to express ownership, pride, and agency in the face of a misinformed public.[...]There is nascent research on the effects of reclaiming a slur among self-labelers and observers (Galinsky et al., 2013). These studies suggest that self-labeling with a slur can lead to an increased sense of power among the self-labeled. Additionally, when others observed that members of a stigmatized group used a slur to refer to themselves, they became more likely to view the self-labeler as powerful. Galinsky et al. (2013) also demonstrated that reclaiming a slur can attenuate the negativity of the label via increased perceptions of the group’s power."
origins of pedophobia:
"Hatred of PWP [people with paedophilia] presumably serves psychological functions for those who harbour it. It protects their perception of self and community members and alleviates their anxiety through a process of denial (i.e., 'evils' are not around me). One reason debunking stereotypes and humanising PWP incites anger could be the threat it poses to this denial."
who is prone to pedophobia:
"Younger age, less education, and having younger children at the age of potential victimisation predict higher social distance towards PWP [people with paedophilia]. Also, women show higher levels of fear, anger, and perceived dangerousness towards individuals with paedophilic interests, compared to men (Jahnke et al., 2015a), along with greater levels of disgust and punitive attitudes (Jahnke, 2018a). Additionally, personality traits affect attitudes towards stigmatised groups (Yuan et al., 2018). For example, higher right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) scores predict more social distance from and more hostile attitudes towards PWP (Jahnke et al., 2014)."
for whom education will be effective:
"There are [...] Fence-Sitters. A group of commenters reacted to the video in an uncertain, ambivalent way or refrained from expressing a positive or critical opinion. [...] Fence-sitters have the potential to accept evidence-based empirical information (Lawrence & Willis, 2021)."
discursive shift for humanization:
"We observed that some commenters expressed interest in listening to or befriending PWP. This evolved to a discursive shift from “What if my child is a victim of CSA?” to “What if my child has paedophilic interests?” (Theaker, 2015) among the Supporters. The shift allowed some audiences to de-other individuals whose existence as human beings had been largely excluded from public discourses."
try to connect with shared public values:
"Cross disciplinary research on attitudes and values conducted by Hornsey and Fielding (Citation2017) proposed that to effectively convert people who reject scientific evidence (which research suggests is associated with strong affective responses), it is essential to identify attitudinal roots (vested interests, worldviews, identity needs which sustain and motivate attitudes, fears, and ideologies,) and then to develop or adapt communication tactics to work with rather than oppose these underlying causes (Hornsey & Fielding, Citation2017). [...] Therefore, dependent on how interventions are promoted, they provide the possibility to connect with and advocate shared public values of safe communities and family security. Engaging these values may give the public a reason to care about providing support to people living with these interests."
origins of pedophobia:
"paedophilia is often conflated as a psychiatric/mental health disorder and an extreme violent offence [...] These findings suggest that paedophilia is believed to be associated with severe forms of mental illness where an individual is not able to control their own state of mind."

See also

External links

  • Pedophobia - BoyWiki.
  • Pedophobia - Pedofili.eu.
  • Mapmisia - A similar coinage of some social media activists, that avoids the dual-use problem inherent to "pedophobia".