sexuality across the life span.doc

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University of Guelph
Family Relations and Human Development
FRHD 2100
Cindy Clarke

Childhood and Adolescent Sexuality Sexuality across the Life Span Learning about Sex When does sex education begin? Does it begin when an infant’s diapers are being changes and the infant plays with their genitals? Does it begin when a child starts to notice the anatomical differences between themselves and others? Does it begin when a child begins to ask questions? What do you thing? Prior to reading this chapter did you have an opinion? Is this something you thought about? Is your opinion different now? Putting the two pieces of knowledge together gives you the opportunity to assess your applied learning. In these notes we will speak about the focus of currently research with respect to sexual behavior in children, adolescents and seniors. We will also look at stages of development as their relate to sexual behavior. We will begin with issues related to sex education. There are various views on when to talk to children about sex. They vary from no discussion to various levels of information depending upon the comfort level of the adult. Children’s parents, their church, peers and teachers all contribute to their sexual education. Each person or institution brings their own values and viewpoints to it. Does this cause any confusion for children? Think back to your childhood and consider the following questions? What did you learn about sex during childhood? What did you learn from your parents? What did you learn from same-sex peers? Other sex peers? Where else did you learn about sex (doctors, siblings, media, school, religion)? Did you ever get caught playing sex games? What happened? How did you feel about it? Sexual knowledge and attitudes: Secrecy surrounding sexuality is typically taught to children during early childhood as they learn about covering up the genitals and not touching them in public Children are rarely taught the anatomically correct names for their genitals Due to visibility of penises, boys and girls express more excitement in boys’ bodies, and boys learn more about sexual pleasure and penises, while girls learn very little about their clitorises What do you see as the implications of this? Do you think boys may become more comfortable with their bodies earlier than girls? Why or Why not? Abstinence only Sex education Consider whether or not you would choose this option for your family. Consider the thoughts about this approach listed below. Abstinence-only program emphasize abstinence from all sexual behaviours without providing information about contraception or disease prevention Abstinence-only-until-marriage programs present marriage as the only morally acceptable context for sexually activity Abstinence only programs often exaggerate the negative consequences of sexual behaviour, portraying sexuality as dangerous and harmful Many believe information on contraception and STI’s should be included in abstinence education Some abstinence only programs are fear based Sexuality Education Programs Most sexual education programs focus on are not inclusive: meaning the underlying assumption is that human sexuality is heterosexuality. This is not correct. An inclusive education program would better address the needs of all individuals. Examples of current research in the area of human sexuality These include but are not limited to: Frequency of sexual behaviour other than intercourse Differences in gender, ethnicity, race, religion, and social class Same-sex preferences and behaviour Cross-cultural research Meaning of sexuality for young people • Meaning of sexuality for older people Life Cycle Phases of Development are: Infancy (Birth to age 2) Early childhood (Ages 2 to 5) Childhood through Preadolescence (Ages 6 to 12 Adolescence (Ages 13 to 19) Adulthood Senior years Sex and disability Infancy Why might you need to have information about infant development? Parents often wonder if the behavior of their child falls into the “typical” category and this includes their sexual behaviour. When assessing developmental milestones in the area of child development this is a key area. Also, should you be a counsellor working with families it is helpful for you to know what is “typical” sexual behaviour. Physical development: Ultrasound has shown that male fetuses have erections in the uterus Female babies are capable of vaginal lubrication from birth Kinsey established half of boys between 3 and 4 could achieve spasms of orgasm, though no fluid is ejaculated Kinsey did not collect evidence on girls Anecdotal evidence suggests that girls do experience orgasm Psychosexual Development Single most important aspect of infant development in the is the child’s relationship to its parents or caregivers Baby’s crying helps stimulate the secretion of the hormone oxytocin in the mother, which releases her milk for nursing Between ages of 1 and 2, children begin to develop their gender identity Develop gender constancy a bit later when they come to understand that they will not become a member of the other sex sometime in the future Develop a strong identification with one gender, they learn about gender role behaviours through modeling. Sexual behaviour: Body pleasures such as nursing or other stimulation can create a generalized neurological response that stimulates the genital response (erections or vaginal lubrication) Masturbation: Many infants start touching their genitals as soon as their hands are coordinated enough, around 3 or 4 months of age Masturbation is normal and common, signals a natural curiosity about exploring the world and their bodies Early Childhood (Ages 2 to 5) Physical development: Early childhood is a crucial period for overall physical development from walking to talking Children may learn more in the first few years of childhood about the nature of their bodies than they learn in the entire remainder of their lives Psychosexual Development: Toilet training leads to an intense interest in genitals and bodily wastes During early childhood, children begin to ask basic questions about sexuality Children are also exploring what it means to be boys and girls Sexual behaviour: Masturbation A) over 70% of mothers in one study reported that their children under six masturbate B) masturbation in early childhood may be deliberate and obvious and may become a preoccupation C) parental reaction is very important because parents who are tolerant can teach them to respect and take pride in their bodies D) setting socially acceptable limits to touching genitals can be one way parents can teach responsibility Sexual Contact: Childhood sex pla
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