Large photo

Home | Index of articles

---

East Syracuse, New York: Child sexuality and sexual behaviour

Steven M. Freeland 1794 Oak Street East Syracuse, NY 13057

Child sexuality has always been and still is, to a large extent, a problem for both parents and professionals world-wide. Irrespective of cultural assumptions, great effort is put into defining the limits of normal sexuality in childhood compared with deviant/problematic behaviour. The solutions vary depending both on family norms and the prevailing social and cultural context (Heiman et al, 1998). We all have an attitude to sexuality and the way this is expressed. We may be negative, positive, possibly reluctant or embarrassed but never entirely indifferent (Larsson, 1994). In particular, expressions of sexual desire, curiosity and behaviour in children have aroused many feelings in adults. Since Freud, almost a century ago, we have to a certain extent, accepted that children are sexual beings from birth. How this sexuality can and should be expressed has interested teachers, doctors, behavioural scientists, sociologists and other professional groups for a century. Despite this, empirical research on child sexual abuse has been lacking.

Purpose, methodology and terminology

The aim of this report is to shed light on various aspects of child sexuality. The question of what is to be considered “normal” or “deviant” and problematic sexual behaviour in children has become increasingly relevant in recent years due to the attention paid to the problematic area of child sexual abuse. Many professional groups working with children are faced with situations where they are expected to be able to assess the behaviour of children and take the action necessary. It is therefore important to seek to reduce the uncertainty in interpreting behaviour, by increasing awareness of the psychosexual development of children and what can disrupt this as well as the external factors which affect socialisation and behaviour. It is also hoped that the report will stimulate further reading of the research which is currently growing in this field.

This report provides an overview of current Western research into children’s behaviour of a sexual nature and the state of knowledge on sexual behaviours which are viewed as problematic from some point of view. The term “sexual behaviour” is here used in a broad way, referring to behaviour which concerns the body, touching, sexual identity, exploring one’s own body and that of others, sexual language, masturbation and games and interaction which can have sexual connotations. The term “child” is here primarily used to refer to the period up to puberty.

This report focuses on reporting research into observable behaviour in children and on reporting some angles from which one can approach the various sexual behaviours of children. The starting point for the literature searches which have been carried out was to document as up-to-date empirical research results and structured categorisations as possible. The selection has then been steered by the aim of describing the most thorough and most often cited international studies and providing an overview of the results of Swedish studies carried out in recent years. To create a platform for this, various perspectives on child sexuality through the twentieth century are also described in brief.

Basic assumptions on children, sexuality and gender

The assumptions and norms in the Western world today regarding children’s sexuality are largely based on assumptions and theories which derive from Freud’s (1905/1965) psychoanalytical view of infantile sexuality and psychosexual stages of development. His followers and his critics have largely used his theories as a springboard, which has meant that we today have internalised the Freudian conceptual apparatus to such an extent in our language that it is now one of our most important symbols concerning sex, and thereby no longer seen in its original context (Gagnon & Simon, 1973). The basic theory was that children are born with sexual energy and are initially entirely controlled by seeking sexual experiences. Development then progresses through various stages, which at the same time involves adapting to the surrounding world and controlling sexual impulses. If something goes wrong during the various stages, the child’s sexuality can stagnate, resulting in deviations in adult sexuality. In recent research Freud’s description of the development phases has been seen as too narrow and in some respects misleading (Rutter, 1971).

In traditional developmental psychology gender has been practically absent but in recent years empirical studies have shown that there are major differences in the development of boys and girls through childhood and adolescence (Bjerrum Nielsen & Rudberg, 1991). Karen Horney and Melanie Klein were two of Freud’s successors who chose to develop the start of alternative female images in psychology. Nancy Chodorow (1988) is a current, often cited representative of a gender theory perspective based on psychodynamic theory. Bjerrum Nielsen & Rudberg (1991) also use psychological theories in their comprehensive description of gender socialisation in boys and girls. Gender socialisation addresses how biological gender gradually becomes social and psychological gender, i.e. how our thinking and behaviour is shaped on the basis of the expectations for our gender. A child is not only a child but also a boy or a girl.

Early literature primarily studied the sexual development of boys. Girls were seen only as a negation of the boy (Frithiof, 1985). Girls’ sexuality is invisible to a greater extent than that of men due to anatomical as well as social factors (Frithiof, 1985; Fredelius et al, 1994; Langfeldt, 1987). Much of boys’ sexual identification is linked to the fact that they have a penis; parents often express appreciation when a boy displays his penis at the ages of two or three, which gives the boy the opinion that he has a valuable body part (Chodorow, 1988). When girls are seen to touch their sexual organs, however, reactions are often more negative. These differing values we carry with us on what is suitable or unsuitable behaviour for boys and girls are passed on to the child right from birth as conscious or unconscious aspects of the conceptual world of their mothers and fathers and later from other adults and surrounding society. Turner and Gervai (1995) claim that gender is one of the first and probably the most obvious characteristic children learn in categorising other people. Therefore, gender is also crucial to the development of self-esteem and sexual identity.

The cognitive perspective, which is prevalent, for example, in social psychology (Nilsson, 1996) has so far emphasised sexual development to a lesser extent but this does appear, for example, in Goldman & Goldman’s cross-cultural study on children’s understanding, knowledge and thinking concerning the body, reproduction, sexual identity and nudity (1982).

Sociological theorists prefer instead to describe sexuality from a social perspective. Foucault (1976 – 84) emphasises the power element in sexuality and describes how from the start the church and subsequently science have influenced how sexuality has been expressed. Theories of sexuality as a social construct have gained ground in recent years. According to this view the social system and the economic, religious, medical, social as well as the cultural spheres determine the position held by and the nature of sexuality. From a constructivist point of view, sexuality is a relational and contextual concept, in which social processes are assumed to control as well as construct sexuality (Gagnon & Simon, 1973, Weeks, 1981, 1985). The main criticism of this view is that it does not pay sufficient attention to historical processes of change (Jackson, 1990). A modified form of the constructivist approach accepts that the child has a biological body with the opportunity to react to physiological sensations, but still sees social processes as the most important element in the child’s development into a member of society (Vance, 1991).

In this view, each society constructs and shapes a suitable and rewarding sexuality for its own society. The sexuality of girls and boys develops on this basis in an interplay with their surroundings, in accordance with society’s expectations and assumptions. They are part of the society in which they grow up and thus internalise its norms and values concerning sexual behaviour. Our assumptions on sexuality and gender also form the basis for the way in which we address children’s sexual behaviour and their socialisation in becoming women and men which is consciously or unconsciously part of our child-rearing (Bergenheim 1994). Through this socialisation process children learn to look on the sexuality constructed by society as “normal”.

What we term healthy and natural sexuality is thus formed from the society we live in and depends on our gender. Put simply, we could say that children learn the rules of sexuality in the same way as they learn everything else, by picking up hints from their surroundings. In this way children learn which sexual activities are permitted, just as they learn that knives are sharp, that ovens are hot or that one should not belch at the dinner table (Helmius, 1990). Sexuality is thus derived from the functions of the physical body but gains meaning for the child through interplay with his or her surroundings, thus giving the child the opportunity to determine his or her own identity and what his or her own sexuality really is.

Normal and deviant behaviour as terms

The conceptual apparatus surrounding what is meant by “normal” or “deviant” sexual behaviour is somewhat unclear. The term “normal” tends to be used most by researchers and practitioners in the field with links to the worlds of psychology, medicine or education. “Normal behaviour” here denotes sexual behaviour as a result of a natural human biological and psychological development process. The terms “pathological” or “abnormal” are used to describe behaviour which indicates that something has happened to disrupt or change expected sexual behaviour or the natural development process. When sexual behaviour is defined in socio-cultural terms, the term “normative” is used to indicate what is considered to be the norm in a given society, culture or group. The latter term is primarily used by sociologists, social work professionals and those connected with the legal system. Researchers and practitioners in these fields tend to use terms such as “deviant” or “criminal acts” more frequently to describe sexual behaviour outside social norms or legislation (Araji, 1997).

Article continues below the image

---

Large photo

---

The term “normal” can also have several meanings. Lamb & Coakley (1993) refer to the term as meaning normal, typical, that which appears in a general population. Here we are looking at “statistical normality”. In another sense the term “normal” is more value-based, indicating that the behaviour in some way promotes health or at least does not harm opportunities for achieving wellbeing and health. Thus a sexual behaviour can be seen as normal and not typical but still healthy or, on the other hand, a behaviour may occur often and still not be accepted or seen as healthy. Normality therefore does not exist as an absolute or a fact, instead it is about how we see each other and ourselves. What is seen as “normal” in one generation can be labelled “problematic” in the next. Normality is also culturally bound. What is seen as normal in one culture can be seen as deviant, bizarre or even as abuse in another (Rosenfeld & Wasserman, 1993; Larsson, 1994, Söderquist, 1995).

The same sexual behaviour can, confusingly enough, be labelled normal, abnormal or pathological by authors taking a developmental view but described as normative, deviant or criminal by those who prefer an anthropological or sociological approach. Araji (1997) takes the example of masturbation to illustrate the above. A child psychologist may see masturbation as a normal sexual behaviour as in many societies it is observed as part of the normal development process. Sex therapists may also consider masturbation to be a positive factor for healthy or satisfactory sexual relations. From a sociological perspective on the other hand, masturbation can sometimes be defined as a deviant or unsuitable behaviour if it contravenes the norms of a group or society. The above is based on the view of masturbation as an expression of sexual desire, while Gagnon & Simon (1973), for example, consider instead that masturbation can be described as a non-sexual act for the child, as the child has not learned that the masturbation behaviour has sexual connotations. According to Gagnon & Simon, the behaviour is given sexual connotations by the adult world.

Finally, as the terms dealing with normality and deviation tend to be used interchangeably in texts, it is often up to the reader to determine the criteria on the basis of which the writer is using the term. In this report the term “normal” is used primarily to describe that which commonly occurs in different groups of children, while the terms “deviant” or “problematic” are used for behaviours which are uncommon among nontraumatised children and which counter our cultural norms on child sexuality and cause concern to adults in the child’s surroundings.

---

Large photo

---

Keauhou, Hawaii: Five Nigerians arrested in Ghana for selling penis, buttocks enlargement drugs

Orval F. Dumont 4379 Stratford Drive Keauhou, HI 96740

Western Regional Police, Ghana, has arrested five Nigerians for allegedly trading in contraband and over the counter medicines, mostly for penis and buttocks enlargement.

The country’s Pharmacy Council, the body that regulates the sale of medicines had observed the increase in itinerant drug peddling business across the country and vowed to clamp down on their operations.

The Nigerians were arrested after a swoop by the Western Region Office of the Council with the support of the Police.

2017 budget to be partly financed by recovered loot – Buhari’s aide

The five of them were arrested in the Prestea Huni-Valley District while a Ghanaian woman among them, who escaped had her wares running into thousands of Ghana cedis confiscated.

Empire FM reported that most of the drugs being sold by the Nigeriens are meant for the enlargement of male organ and female buttock.

However, ASP Simon Deta, the Huni-Valley District Crime Officer in an interview with the radio starion stated that the five arrested will be investigated and prosecuted.

---

Large photo

---

Norwood, Ohio: Does Botox help with penis enlargement?

Brian E. Noble 3363 Jenna Lane Norwood, OH 45212

Patient : My question is about Penis enlargement and botox. I have heard you can inject botox onto the penis to make it look fatter. Is this true and does it help enhance performance.

Doctor : Thank you for your question. I would caution you to be very careful when anyone makes these types of claims. Botox is a neurotoxin that paralyzes muscles for a period of 4-6 months. It is used primarily on muscles throughout the body for a variety of cosmetic and functional issues. It is important to understand that there are no muscles in the penis, rather chambers known as corpora that fill with blood during an erection. The use of botox in the penis has no proven effect in enlargement. I would be extremely cautious if any spa or physician gives you this information as there could be serious complication with injection into the penis.

---

Large photo

---

Home | Index of articles