The experience and effects of hatred of people with pedophilia

Project Synopsis

Title: The experience and effects of hatred of people with pedophilia

Adults attracted to minors are among the most despised groups in contemporary societies. If this sexual/romantic attraction is aimed specifically at prepubescent children, it is termed pedophilia. Acting on this attraction is a criminal offence. Although someone can have pedophilia without having acted on their attraction, the term pedophilia is often mistakenly used as a synonym for someone who has committed the crime of child sexual abuse. The term “pedophile” has passed from sexology and psychological discourse into the media and popular language while becoming demonised. Different studies suggest that barely half of those who have committed contact sexual offences involving children have pedophilic motivations. Also, many of those attracted to minors refrain from offending and seem socially well-adapted. However, it is a common misconception to consider people with pedophilia (PWP) as the main and exclusive perpetrators of child sexual abuse. Misunderstandings about pedophilia can contribute to self-stigmatization, heightened distress, feelings of shame and fear among non-offending individuals with pedophilia. Consequently, these misconceptions can discourage them from seeking the help and support they may need. 

This qualitative exploratory project aims to understand the hatred towards PWP. We examine the phenomenon of societal disgust from the perspectives of mental health professionals, individuals who experience attraction towards children, and the general public, which enables us to provide a conceptual triangulation, guiding policy and practice. We will explore how this knowledge can enhance service provision and help PWP live productive, offence-free lives and contribute to the prevention of child sexual abuse. 

host institution
partner organization(s)
early stage researcher

ESR5 Azadeh Nematy, PhD Candidate at Trinity College Dublin


Dr. Simon Mc Carthy-Jones, Trinity College Dublin, Clinical Psychology and Neuropsychology


Nematy, A. (14 November 2023). The families of people who commit sex crimes need care and support. Psyche. 

Nematy, A; Flynn, S; McCarthy-Jones, S.(2023). YouTube Commenters’ Discourse of Pedophilia: A Qualitative Social Media Analysis. Journal of Sexuality and Culture.