Whereas pedophilia and hebephilia refer to psychological propensities, child molestation and child sexual abuse are used to describe actual sexual contact between an adult and someone who has not reached the legal age of consent. In this context, someone who has not reached the age of consent is referred to as a child, even though he or she may be a teenager.
Although the terms are not always used consistently, it is useful to distinguish between pedophiles/hebephiles and child molesters/abusers. Pedophilia and hebephilia are diagnostic labels. Not all pedophiles and hebephiles actually molest children; an adult can be attracted to children or adolescents without ever actually engaging in sexual contact with them.
Child molestation and child sexual abuse refer to actions, and don't imply a particular psychological makeup or motive on the part of the perpetrator. Not all incidents of child sexual abuse are perpetrated by pedophiles or hebephiles; in some cases, the perpetrator has other motives for his or her actions and does not manifest an ongoing pattern of sexual attraction to children.
Thus, not all child sexual abuse is perpetrated by pedophiles (or hebephiles) and not all pedophiles and hebephiles actually commit abuse. Consequently, it is important to choose one's terms carefully.
Another problem related to terminology arises because sexual abuse of male children by adult men2 is often referred to as "homosexual molestation." The adjective "homosexual" (or "heterosexual" when a man abuses a female child) refers to the victim's gender in relation to that of the perpetrator. Unfortunately, people sometimes mistakenly interpret it as referring to the perpetrator's sexual orientation.
To avoid this confusion, it is preferable to refer to men's sexual abuse of boys with the more accurate label of male-male molestation. Similarly, it is preferable to refer to men's abuse of girls as male-female molestation. These labels are more accurate because they describe the sex of the individuals involved but don't convey implicit assumptions about the perpetrator's sexual orientation.
Typologies of Offenders
The distinction between gender of victim and sexual orientation of perpetrator is important because many child molesters don't really have an adult sexual orientation. They have never developed the capacity for mature sexual relationships with other adults, either men or women.
Over the years, this fact has been incorporated into various schemes for categorizing child molesters. For example, Finkelhor and Araji (1986) proposed that perpetrators' sexual attractions should be conceptualized as ranging along a continuum with exclusive interest in children at one extreme, and exclusive interest in adult partners at the other end.
Typologies of offenders have often included a distinction between those with an enduring primary preference for children as sexual partners and those who have established age-appropriate relationships but who become sexually involved with children under unusual circumstances of extreme stress. Perpetrators in the first category those with a more or less exclusive interest in children have often been labeled fixated. Fixation means "a temporary or permanent arrestment of psychological maturation resulting from unresolved formative issues which persist and underlie the organization of subsequent phases of development" (Groth & Birnbaum, 1978, p. 176). Many clinicians view fixated offenders as being "stuck" at an early stage of psychological development.
By contrast, other molesters are described as regressed. Regression is "a temporary or permanent appearance of primitive behavior after more mature forms of expression had been attained, regardless of whether the immature behavior was actually manifested earlier in the individual's development" (Groth & Birnbaum, 1978, p. 177). Regressed offenders have developed an adult sexual orientation but under certain conditions (such as extreme stress) they return to an earlier, less mature psychological state and engage in sexual contact with children.
Some typologies of child molesters break the fixation-regression distinction into multiple categories, and some include additional categories as well (e.g., Knight, 1989). For the present discussion, the important point is that many child molesters cannot be meaningfully described as homosexuals, heterosexuals, or bisexuals because they are not really capable of a relationship with an adult man or woman. Instead of gender, their sexual attractions are based primarily on age. These individuals who are often characterized as fixated are attracted to children, not to men or women.
There is some dangerous definition manipulation in all of this, to begin with. Also, the assumption that gay desire is normal skews the argument from the get-go.
With false premises intact, if someone is fixated only on children of the same-sex sexually, can you at least admit that it is a distortion of homosexuality, not heterosexuality? All perps in the group who only have sex with children, and only children of the same sex, should go in the homosexual category.
Furthermore, all persons who either have sex only with children of either sex and persons who have sex with both children and adults of both sexes should go in categories according to their act, not there so-called inclusive, sex-obsessed desires. Similarly, persons who only have sex with children of the opposite sex go in the hetero column.
As the studies itself confesses, if you draw the "orientation" line at a certain age, what age do you draw it at? Don't most of us limit ourselves to certain age groups (usually our own). It appears that the study, motivated by wanting to get gays off the accountability hook, want to take out the adolescent ages by drawing a distinction between cases that involve age of consent issues and pedophiles. That's sick. Age of consent laws are there for a reason. Hands off the adolescents.
The study goes on (I did not cut and past that part) to draw conclusions based on the "there is no data" argument. That's lame and -- surprise, surprise -- always ends up favoring their own liberal, pro-gay political view. It's a biased and dishonest analysis.