A hebephile is a person who is primarily attracted to adolescents, or children who have at least started puberty and have signs of adult sexual maturation, but are still young and developing both mentally and physically. Generally, this means teenagers and preteens between 11 and 14 years old. The term and classification has some overlap or even confusion with the term "ephebophilia", which refers to the primary attraction to late- or post-adolescents ages 15-19.
The term is based on the Greek goddess and protector of youth Hebe, but in ancient Greece also referred to the time before manhood in Athens (depending on the reference, the specific age could be 14, 16 or 18 years old). The suffix -philia is derived from -phil-, implying love or strong friendship.
The use of the term has been a matter of confusion and controversy, both in the variations of the definition used by early mental health professionals, and in whether or not it constitutes a mental disorder like pedophilia. Regardless, today the model of an adolescent-attracted perpetrator is a recognized part of profiling offender psychology.
Hebephilic perpetrators are characterized by their primary sexual interest in adolescents to the exclusion of pursuing relationships with adults, other than to use the adult relationship as a cover or placeholder. While adolescents are in many ways sexually mature, they still share many characteristics with children and are as such not usually considered mentally capable of understanding the consequences of a sexual relationship. In addition, their lack of legal rights and autonomy when under 18 renders them vulnerable to manipulation and abuses of power by adults, especially those in positions of authority over them.
Often, a hebephile seeks out such positions in order to have access and exercise this control over victims. A hebephile's actions may constitute statutory rape in certain jurisdictions.
On Criminal Minds
- Donald Curtis (What Fresh Hell?)
- Jacob Dawes (Riding the Lightning) (also an ephebophile)
- George Foyet (Omnivore)
- Hugh Rollins (A Shade of Gray) (also a pedophile)
- Shane Wyland (Into the Woods) (also a pedophile)
- Bill Rogers (Hope)
- J.B. Allen (Foundation) (also a pedophile)