The term ephebophilia is the sexual preference for adolescents around 15-19 years of age. In everyday English, the term pedophilia, strictly meaning sexual attraction to prepubescent children, is also colloquially used to refer to attraction to adolescents.

Ephebophilia is not listed as a paraphilia in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), unlike pedophilia, which is categorized as a disorder in the manual.


The term comes from the ἔφηβος (ephebos) variously defined as "one arrived at puberty", "a youth of 18 who underwent his dokimasia and was registered as a citizen (Athens)", and "arriving at man's estate"; and φιλία (-philia) "love". It has been used by Dutch psychologist and pro-pedophile activist Frits Bernard as far back as 1950, reprinted in 1960 in the gay support magazine Vriendschap under the pseudonym Victor Servatius, also crediting it to Hirschfeld though giving no exact date.

The term has been described by Frenchman Felix Buffiere in 1980 and Pakistani scholar Tariq Rahman in 1988, who argued that "ephebophilia" should be used in preference to "homosexuality" when describing the aesthetic and erotic interest of adult men in adolescent boys in classical Persian, Turkish or Urdu literature.


Attraction to adolescents is not generally regarded by psychologists as pathological except when it interferes with other relationships, becomes an obsession which adversely affects other areas of life, or causes distress to the subject.

Sexual desire that includes adolescents, as well as older individuals, is common among adults of all sexual orientations; this is not labeled "ephebophilia" because the attraction to adolescents is not exclusive. In some cultures, such as those in which adolescent girls are routinely married to older men, it is considered normal for adults to include adolescents among their sexual interests. In these cultures an attraction to adolescents is not necessarily thought to require an essentialist classification in terms of abnormality, deviancy or mental health, but is seen as a possibility or a taste.

See also

Endnotes, references and sources

  • Ames, A. & Houston, D.A. "Legal, social, and biological definitions of pedophilia." Archives of Sexual Behavior, vol. 19, 1990, pp. 333-342.
  • Dynes, Wayne R. (ed.) Encyclopedia of Homosexuality. New York and London, Garland Publishing, 1990.
  • Percy, William A. Pederasty and Pedagogy in Archaic Greece, Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1996.
  • Rahman, Tariq. "Boy-Love in the Urdu Ghazal", Annual of Urdu Studies, Vol. 7 (1990), pp. 1-20.

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