What is Pedophobia?

Pedophobia, also spelled “paedophobia”, is the intense and irrational fear of children, including babies. Negative childhood experiences are often the basis for this fear and phobics commonly have a low tolerance for ill-behaved or noisy children.  In extreme cases, any encounter with children (or even the prospect of running into children) can induce anxiety attacks.

Left untreated, pedophobia may lead to social isolation and loneliness. As a pedophobe takes care to avoid situations or discussions involving children, they may end up isolating themselves from important family or social events. Other mood or anxiety disorders may be involved.

Pedophobia may originate from an inherent mistrust of children and adolescents. A mid-20th century concern and study of child psychology resulted in a slew of Hollywood films and novels dedicated to the theme of children being disobedient, unholy, bad, and intrinsically evil, like The Omen and The Bad Seed. Ever since, the “evil child” has been a recurring theme in the horror genre. The thought that all children are miscreants, untrustworthy, and capable of vile acts of violence and destruction is an indirect response to the political landscape of the time of its heyday, and the relationship between nature and nurture. Pedophobia is different from a fear of or aversion to teenagers, or Ephebiphobia, although the phobic may suffer from both phobias.

Children’s roles in society have evolved over ages. Today, children enjoy more rights, freedoms, and privileges than ever before. Prior to child labour laws and changing societal perspectives on human rights, children were not seen as intrinsically valuable, and were historically bred to secure lineages, create free labour, and form socio-political alliances through marriages. There may be an argument for pedophobia originating from a collective memory of a time when children were not valued as human beings. There are many global organizations that seek to abolish pedophobia in countries where children are not easily given access to education, healthcare, or even safety. Childhood may not be treated as something to be cherished in all cultures, and there are many nations that continue to exploit children as cheap wage earners and soldiers.

It originates from the Greek word pedo meaning “children” and the word 'phobia' comes from the Greek word ‘phóbos’ meaning 'fear.'

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Symptoms of Pedophobia

  • Extreme Anxiety, Dread

  • Shortness of Breath
  • Rapid Breathing
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Excessive Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Dry Mouth
  • Confusion / Inability to Articulate Clearly
  • Lack of Focus
  • Irritability
  • Shaking
  • Feelings of Powerlessness
  • Obsession with the Subject of the Phobia
  • Fear or Feelings of Losing Control
  • Avoidance Behavior
  • Headaches

Learn more about phobia symptoms ›

Causes of Pedophobia

Pedophobia is a specific (or “isolated”) phobia, centered on non-social key factors. Isolated phobias tend to have some previous trauma (often in childhood and often physically injurious) as a root cause; a fear of bees may stem from an injury in childhood, for instance.

Upbringing can also play a role, such as parental warnings about a direct threat (e.g.  “snakes can bite and kill you”) which is especially notable in cases where a threat is more imminent. An allergy to bees or peanut butter, for instance, would naturally reinforce a real medical concern.

Pedophobia, like most phobias, stems from a subconscious overprotection mechanism, and as with many phobias can also be rooted in an unresolved emotional conflict.

In all kinds of phobias, external experiences and / or reports can further reinforce or develop the fear, such as seeing a family member or friend who is affected. In extreme cases, indirect exposures can be as remote as overhearing a reference in conversation, seeing something in the news, on TV, or in the movies.

Learn more about the causes of phobias ›

Treatments for Pedophobia

  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

  • Habit Strategies To Relax
  • Cognitive Therapy (CT)
  • In Vivo Exposure
  • Response Prevention
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Group Therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Energy Psychology
  • Medication
  • Meditation

Learn more about phobia treatments ›