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Teachers’ and parents’ reports on 3- to 6-year-old children’s sexual behavior: a comparison
Linköping University, Department of Molecular and Clinical Medicine, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Molecular and Clinical Medicine, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
2002 (English)In: International Journal of Child Abuse & Neglect, ISSN 0145-2134, E-ISSN 1873-7757, Vol. 26, no 3, 247-266 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Objectives: The main purpose of the study was to compare observed range and frequency of sexual behavior in 3- to 6-year-olds in two different environments: the home and the daycare center. The study also aimed to investigate parental and staff opinions on child sexual behavior.

Methods: Parents and daycare teachers of 185 preschool children, from different socio-economic housing areas, answered extensive questionnaires about each child’s sexual and general behavior. They were also asked about their own opinions on child sexual behavior.

Results: Parents observed significantly more sexual behavior in their children at home compared to teachers’ observations at the daycare centers in all age groups, while teachers reported more general behavior problems. Significant gender differences on sexual behavior were displayed at the daycare centers but not at home. Rare behaviors at home were also very unusual at the daycare center. Parental and staff attitudes toward child sexuality were quite open, although 67% of the parents and 41% of the teachers never spoke to the children on sexual matters. One fifth of the adults used no term for genitals at all, and even fewer had a name for girls’ genitals.

Conclusions: The findings indicate that young children explore their sexuality more at home than in settings with groups of children where the daily activities may be more structured and monitored. It enhances the importance of looking at the context in which the sexual behavior is taking place when investigating problematic sexual behavior.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2002. Vol. 26, no 3, 247-266 p.
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-26515DOI: 10.1016/S0145-2134(01)00323-4Local ID: 11072OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-26515DiVA: diva2:247064
Available from: 2009-10-08 Created: 2009-10-08 Last updated: 2017-12-13Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Children and sexuality: "Normal" sexual behaviour and experiences in childhood
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Children and sexuality: "Normal" sexual behaviour and experiences in childhood
2001 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Child sexual behaviour has until recently remained largely unexplored in Sweden, despite theoretical interest in normal childhood sexuality. Issues about sexual abuse and its consequencies has, however, created a need for research on developmentally "normal" sexual behaviour and experiences among boys and girls, while growing up.

The overall purpose of the present thesis was to gain knowledge about sexual behaviour and experiences before adolescence, in normative groups of children in contemporary Sweden. The empirical work consists of five papers based on three separate quantitative studies. Two studies include preschool children (n=251 and n=185, and a sample from the USA, n=467) with questionnaires to parents and preschool staff. The thesis is also addressing adult views on child sexuality. One study focus on childhood sexual experiences up until the age of 13 (n=269), in which young adults (18-20 years old) answered questionnaires about solitary, mutual and nonconsensual childhood sexual activities.

A wide range of sexually related behaviour was observed, most of which was developmentally related. Parents reported more sexual behaviour in their children compared to preschool teachers' reports. Adult-like sexual behaviour, and behaviour of intrusive character, were extremely rare in the preschool children. Gender differences were explored and found on some aspects and there was a correlation between reported behaviour and family factors. A Swedish sample of preschool children's' behaviour according to parental reports, was compared to a similar sample from the USA, and similarities as well as cultural differences were found.

In self-reports from students, solitary experiences and mutual sexual activities together with a same-aged friend were common before adolescence. Non-consensual sexual activities, with same-aged children was relatively common. In other cases the non-consensual experiences happened together with an older teenager, or with an adult.

The results provide an incipient frame of reference for further studies on child sexual behaviour in Sweden. Observable behaviour is one very important factor to consider when clinicians and other child-care professionals are to make assessments of a child's developmental status and situation, and knowledge in this area therefore holds importantimplications. Child sexuality need to be addressed within paediatrics and child psychiatry, as well as in social work, not only in terms of risk andeffects after abuse, but also as an integral part of healthy child development.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköpings universitet, 2001. 91 p.
Series
Linköping University Medical Dissertations, ISSN 0345-0082 ; 689
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-28595 (URN)13749 (Local ID)91-7219-985-7 (ISBN)13749 (Archive number)13749 (OAI)
Public defence
2001-10-05, Berzeliussalen, Universitetssjukhuset, Linköping, 09:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Available from: 2009-10-09 Created: 2009-10-09 Last updated: 2012-09-04Bibliographically approved

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Larsson, IngbethSvedin, Carl Göran

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