Theories have been proposed to explain preferential sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children, but not to adolescents. Thus, there is no literature regarding possible causes of ephebophilia.
Most theories of pedophilia are those that attempt to explain all types of deviance.1 Sexual deviance or paraphilias refer to sexual feelings or behaviors involving objects, animals, or non-consenting people, with pre-pubescent children defined as non-consenting. Thus, deviance includes exhibitionism, fetishes, voyeurism, pedophilia, zoophilia, sexual sadism/masochism, and rape, among other phenomena. Until recently, homosexuality was included, but ephebophilia never has been.2
Because theories of deviance assume the same mechanism underlies them all, they do not distinguish between attraction to children and rape, let alone between attraction to boys and attraction to girls.3
Most of the theories below are taken from the literature on sexual deviance.4
2. American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders DSM IV-TR, Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 2000.
3. Hall, 1996; Howells, 1981.
4. Feierman, 1990a; Garland & Dougher, 1990; Hall, 1996; Howells, 1981; Langevin, 1983; Li, 1990a.