How to Identify a Pedophile?

It can be very easy. Your child will tell you who it is if you listen to them. 

Pedophiles are adults, typically men, who are sexually attracted to pre-pubescent boys and girls, typically under age 10. They are differentiated from hebephiles, who are adults sexually attracted to early-pubescent boys and girls, about ages 11 to 14. Pedophilia is one of the paraphilia’s, which are mental disorders characterized by aberrant sexual desires and behaviors. Pedophiles are mentally ill, and according to some theories, born to desire children as a deviant sexual preference. Other theories say something in their developmental years led them to pedophilia. Neither these theories, nor any others, are excuses or valid criminal defenses. Rather it is to understand them so they can be detected and Pedophiles are sexual predators from whom children must be protected.

How to Identify a Pedophile?

Pedophiles may gradually escalate their behavior over time, or their offending behavior may self-arrest at a certain level. Pedophiles may express their desire for children by looking. They may store these images in their head and masturbate to them later. Others will take photos of children, and trade them on line with other pedophiles. Others will expose themselves to children. Others will make physical contact with a child, groping them or engaging in frottage. Other will perpetrate through penetration. Some pedophiles will progress through all four stages. 

Like all predators, pedophiles use camouflage to hide their appearance and get close to their prey. The camouflage pedophiles use is normalcy. Most of them are not weirdos in raincoats sitting near a park in a white van with FREE CANDY AND ICE CREAM written on the side. This is a Hollywood fueled stereotype. Most pedophiles have jobs, girlfriends or wives, a vehicle, they dress well or casually, they are neat and clean, and polite and well mannered, and friendly, and courteous. They are nice. They lead dual lives, keeping their deviance a secret. 

Behavioral profiling is one method that can be used to detect pedophiles. Behavioral profiling involves identifying the common characteristics of a group of individuals, based on their demographics and behaviors. The value of such profiles is very questionable. Behavioral profiling has many inherent flaws and limitations, and can generate false positives. The fundamental reason for this is people are complex, unique, and dynamic. There are many components to who we are, we are all different from each other, and we change over time. It is very difficult to accurately quantify human beings with a behavioral profile. The profile will catch many people so to speak who are not pedophiles. This is a false positive, finding something which is not really there. In this case, it can have significant social consequences to make such an accusation without just cause. In the court of social and mainstream media, you are guilty, whether you did it or not. 

kids playing in playground

Here are some proverbial red flags, or warnings, which need attention, but are absolutely not definitive indicators that someone is a pedophile. 

  1. The more obvious people to notice are men loitering around schools, playground or other areas where children are likely to be. This can also include malls. Anyone with a camera should get attention, especially if they are surreptitiously photographing children. 
  2. Pedophiles will often have what are called child friendly homes. They will be a single adult without children, who has toys and children’s books. 
  3. Pedophiles will gush over children with an inappropriate adoration, dramatic speech and excessive terms of endearment. “Oh my gosh, look at this sweet, precious little angel”. They may also become noticeably uncomfortable and flustered around children. 
  4. Parents should beware of any adult who shows too much interest in their child. The adult may have honorable intentions, and want to be a mentor or avuncular figure, but this interest warrants attention. This applies to adult in real life, and incudes teachers, coaches, neighbors, co-workers, family friends, and most painful and difficult, members of the family. Such people would be examined with a genuine curiosity as to their intentions and motives toward your child. It should go without saying that a parent should be aware of other adult interactions with their children, and exercise reasonable caution, but consider this: Most pedophiles are known to the child and the family. 
  5. Pedophiles often choose employment which will put them in contact with children. Swim coaches and gymnastic coaches are examples. They have a role in which they are not only in authority, but a degree of physical contact in an expectation, the child athletes will be wearing minimal or tight clothing, they may be isolated with the coach, and the coach will be in a position to open or close the door on the child for opportunities. This is a situation and position of such power differential, that only the most ethical and trustworthy adults should be occupying it. 

What Do You Do If You Identify a Suspected Pedophile?

If there is someone specific you suspect because they have met the criteria listed above:

  • Do not allow them to have any further contact with your children.
  • Check the sex offender registry to see if they appear
  • If your child tells you they have been touched: 
    • Believe them. Do not deny it or minimize it. 
    • Contact law enforcement
    • Do not take matters into your own hands by confronting the suspect directly 
    • Take your child to a pediatrician for an exam
    • Take your child see a counselor experienced in child molestation


Parents send their children off to a building five days a week to the care of adults whom they have never met, and may get to know only superficially over time. Parents do this because they trust those adults to have the best interest of their children in mind, and keep the, safe. Most of these adults are responsible, conscientious, ethical, and do their job because they want to pass on their knowledge and skills to the next generation, and be a guide and mentor to younger people, giving them the benefit of their life experience, and hoping to see them succeed. Others are using their position to act out their deviance. 

Consider Googling anyone who has contact with your child. This includes coaches, teachers, Boy Scout leaders, and Church leaders. Check the sex offender registry, and their work history, any criminal record, and their general reputation. 

Pedophiles groom or court their victims. They will show a child kindness and empathy. They will seek to drive a wedge between them and their parents. Open communication with your child is critical. Pedophiles want children to keep what they are doing a secret. If your children trust you implicitly, it will be difficult for your child to keep a secret. 

Related Reading:

How to File a Police Report?

How to Protect Your Children from Predators?

How to Identify Sex Trafficking Victims?

How to Identify a Sex Offender?