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Human sexuality is characterized by a wide variety of sexual preferences. Each individual has specific erotic particularities that are realized first as a fantasy and sometimes as an urge to act it out as a behaviour.

Definition of Sexual Categories

What is pedophilia? What is hebephilia?

Pedophilia is the term used to describe the sexual preference for prepubescent children, who, in terms of bodily development, have not yet entered puberty. That means that they have no pubic and/or armpit hair, a small vulva, a small penis or no or minimal breast development, and are in general not older than 11 years old. People with pedophilia can be sexually attracted to girls` and/ or boys` bodies.

People with hebephilia feel sexually attracted to children whose bodily development shows first signs of puberty (e.g. beginning growth of pubic and/or armpit hair, vulva in the early stage of development, penis in the early stage of development, or onset of breast development). The following self-observations can be indicators for pedophilia/hebephilia:

  • sexual arousal while observing prepubescent and/or early-pubescent children, or during contact with them

  • Sexually arousing fantasies involving children with a prepubescent and/or early-pubescent body scheme

  • usage of child sexual abuse images online (commonly referred to as "child pornography").

  • Sexual acting out with or in front of children


There are individuals, who suffer greatly as a result of their disposition, which causes clinically significant distress.

Having a sexual interest in children with prepubertal or early pubertal body schemes does not necessarily mean that these people commit sexual assaults or automatically consume child sexual abuse images (so-called child pornography) on the internet.


That is why the expressions pedophilia and hebephilia need to be notably distinguished from child sexual abuse. Under criminal law, the designation “child sexual abuse” exclusively refers to sexual acts with/involving children, whereas pedophilia and hebephilia describe sexual arousal or excitation in relation to prepubertal or early pubertal minors.

Are all people who commit child sexual abuse offenses either pedophiles or hebephiles?

No. It is necessary to distinguish clearly between people who are sexually attracted to children and/or early adolescents and commit child sexual abuse and people who are attracted to adults and offend against children. The latter often offend in connection with other difficulties as a surrogate action, or due to mental illnesses.

Do all people with a pedophilic or hebephilic sexual preference commit child sexual abuse offenses?

No, definitely not.


The term 'indecent images of a children' mean a sexual image of a child (anyone under the age of 18). It includes:

  • nude or partially clothed children

  • children sexually posing

  • self-generated images by children (‘selfies’)

  • images depicting children engaging in both penetrative and non-penetrative sexual activity

This definition applies to still images, videos, and pseudo-photographs (an image which appears to be a photograph and that may have been created by a computer).

'Indecent images of children' is the legal term for these types of images. On this website, we refer to them as ‘sexual images of children’. In addition, the term ‘sexual image’ is a collective term which comprises of sexual images, videos, and pseudo-photographs of children. 

Offence Cycle Definitions by Christabel Chamarette - Clinical Psychologist



This refers to all of these events, both internal (thoughts, feelings) and external (a situation, environment, the influence of others) which played a role in the build-up to your offence.


These are events, or situations, which were happening around you in your environment. These include chains of events prior to the offence, including factors relating to the state of your relationship, work, financial, substance use, and family. Examples include loss of a job, lack of money, unhappy home life, arguments at work, use of alcohol or other drugs, having problems in a relationship, previous offences, events that happened in childhood, a block of normal sexual outlet.

Remember to include thoughts and feelings you were having about these events in the thought and feeling categories. e.g. I was having problems at work (a situation I feel angry, stressed and frustrated) feeling; and I need something to take my mind off my problems (thought).


These are beliefs, attitudes, or thought you were having before your offence. How are you thinking about the events in your life as listed above? EG working sucks; my partner doesn't love me anymore; life is out to get me, I've always been a victim; if no one cares about me, I won't care about anyone; I deserve more; I need some excitement in my life; I don't care if I get caught; I don't think I'll get caught, I'm not going I'm not doing anything really wrong, etc. 


These are the feelings you were experiencing before the offence. Think about the thoughts of situations you were experiencing before the offence, how are you feeling about them and how strongly? these could be immediately prior to the offence as well as I'm going feelings experience in the long-term.


  • anger

  • depression

  • frustration

  • aroused 

  • rage

  • karma

  • self-pit 

  • loneliness

  • stressed

  • isolated

  • helpless

  • confident

  • tired etc.

ACTING OUT (the actual offending)



What were you feeling throughout your offence? think of the changes in feelings as you progress through the offence (before and during the offence). the feelings described here are those you had once you had made your decision to offend. Feelings could be anticipation, excitement, arousal, need, or anxiety.


These are the thoughts that you were thinking while your offence was occurring (before and during the offence). Again, the thoughts mentioned here are those that you had once you had made your decision to offend. it couldn't be quotation I shouldn't be doing this; I need it; just one more time; no one will find out, etc


These are the belief, babies and thought you had after the offence had finished.

How did you justify minimise your offending behaviour question mark which category do the thoughts fit into (denial, minimization, justification) or what kinds of excuses were they?

what kinds of reasons did you give yourself for behaving the way you did?

what made it ok in your own mind for you to do what you did?

how did you resolve the fact you knew it was wrong but did it anyway?,

  • e.g. no one got hurt;

  • I don't pay for porn;

  • I didn't really hurt him/her; it didn't harm me when it happened to me as a kid

  • I needed it;

  • I was drunk using drugs;

  • I didn't just have child pics;

  • the pics came as part of the group of other images I downloaded;

  • I had a bad upbringing;

  • it happened at a bad time in my life;

  • I thought I’d get away with it;

  • I don't do it often. (remember the denial, minimisation, justification session we did)


This looks at the way you felt thought after the events.

  • How did your body feel?

  • what emotions were you were experiencing?;

for example, confidence, relaxed, shame, happy, etc.

What was the emotional reward you were getting for the behaviour

  • where there any ways of thinking that became normal to you?

  • EG I can't stop it;

  • it's just the way I am;

  • I'm smart enough not to get caught;

  • I can't control it, etc.


It is important to recognise high-risk situations, thoughts, and feelings in your offence cycle, which can contribute towards offending behaviour.

Once we recognise them it is important for us to put in strategies to avoid these situations or to get out of them.

They should be clear, practical and achievable. For example, or strategy to avoid computers is not necessarily an achievable thing, so a more realistic strategy is to only use computers in areas where others can clearly view what you were looking at.

The strategies had to have a plan of action (how you're going to achieve them).

For example;

  • I will move my computer into the family area immediately;

  • I will ring and or talk to my sister when I'm feeling down;

  • I will tender the Tuesday night follow-up group and be accountable to them.

  • You may need to look at questions such as;  

What high-risk situation, thought, feeling are you trying to manage?

  • what are you going to do?

  • when and how often?

  • where can you access help?

Your step offs are your toolbox to take with you into the community to avoid or get out of situations that could lead you to re-offend, or even be accused of behaving inappropriately. The factors that lead to your offending are likely to be different from others so the strategies you will include will be different from everyone else because everyone's offending is different.