Adult reporting on childhood sexual experiences often forget; error prone.

Interviewing a child about sexual experiences if met with great opposition; computer interviews are used.


A boy has been shown to have reflex boners during the prenatal period and girls have vaginal lubrication after birth.

First intimate relationship child has is with mother (i.e bathing, holding, breast feeding etc.)

Self Stimulation. Infants will often fondle their genitals. Children progress from careless fondling to systematic masturbation. Self-stimulation in babies occurs and is encouraged in some cultures. Optimal mother-child relationship- more masturbation.

Infant-Infant Sexual Encounters. Babes are egocentric. Will stimulate themselves over others. However, in latency developments, babies will kiss, hug, pat each other.

Non-Genital Sensual Experiences. Many children enjoy sensual non-sexual experiences. I.e breastfeeding, thumb sucking, rocking to bed, cuddling. Some children prefer not to be handled or cuddled.

Attachment. The biological bond that forms between infant and mother, father or caregiver. The capacity of this biological (i.e stable, secure, loving vs. unstable, unsafe, frustrating) can affect a child’s ability to maintain emotional attachments in adulthood.

Boy vs. Girl. By 2-3, the child knows what gender they are; they try to associate and by like that gender. Understand the biological differences as they grow, by age 6 beliefs are rigid.


Marked increased in sexual activity and interest.

Masturbation. An increasing number of children begin to masturbate or perform more frequency stimulation of their genitals. Learn masturbation should be done in private.

Children become more social and engage in hand holding, hugging etc. Children form a concept of marriage.

Primal scene experience. Child observed parents having sex. Freud believes reduce child’s psychosexual development.

However at this age sexual play/ touching is more likely to occur with members of the same sex.

Children’s sexual play and activity at this age is largely the result of curiosity and this does not negatively affect their social adjustment as young adults


Children’s sexual interest and expression of sexuality remains lively thought out this period.

At this point, puberty may start, androgens increase,

Children often have their first experiences with a sexual attraction which helps to determine their sexual orientation. Children who are attracted to the same gender will undergo sexual questioning- a time of assessment and interpretation of features of their sexual attraction that violates sexual norms.

Masturbate. More children will begin to systematically masturbate at this age; boys often before girls. Boys often learn about it from male peers and girls discover it by accident. No difference in sexual adjustment or enjoyment between children who started masturbating at this period and children who didn’t.

Sexual behavior with another gender during this age is often limited because of division between boys and girls. Sex is usually learned about at this period. Some children may engage in hand-oral sexual contact.

Gender Segregated. Same-sex sexual activity is very common in the normal sexual development of children. Boys and girls segregate from each other and play with children of their own gender. Boys are more likely than girls to engage in behavior of a sexual nature with the same gender (i.e circle jerk), because female masturbation is (1) less impressive (2) girls may sense the greater societal restriction placed on them.

However, during the latency period of this age group; children start to engage in more gender mixing and going to more social events with each other (i.e parties, sporting events, clubs etc.). By grade 7, the majority of children proclaimed to have had a boyfriend or girlfriend. Children will then start to go on dates alone with their “girlfriends/boyfriends”. However homosexual children will not because they will be ridiculed or harassed.

Sexualization of Girls. When girls are valued only for sex appeal or behavior; held to a standard physical attractiveness with being sexy; sexually objectified, or sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person. This is primarily done through media, the internet, movies, even toys (i.e Barbie). This leads girls to seek self-sexualization: starving themselves to prevent weight gain, buying sexy clothes, cosmetic surgery- all of which can greatly reduce a girl’s self-esteem. Support groups, educators, and parents can help buffer this effect.


Highest levels of sexual interest and development (i.e puberty), androgens.

Adolescence’s level of sexuality can be attributed to a variety of biological and sociological factors. Sociological factors include: parent’s education, attitudes toward sex, attachment to religious groups; greater effect on girls, lesser effects on boys. Biological factors include: levels of testosterone in boys and girls promoted sexuality; the effect is weaker in girls. The two factors interact with each other.

Masturbation. The sharp increase in the frequency of masturbation in both girls and boys. Boys begin masturbating to orgasm earlier than girls. Masturbation is undergone a dramatic change & acceptance in the 20th century. Now prescribed in sexual therapy and promoted.

Same Sex. Most teens sexual experiences with peers are few and out of curiosity. Some teens fear coming out to avoid ridicule; mothers are more receptive than fathers. More teens are becoming aware and receptive to same-gender relations.

Sexual behavior and experience is rapid and developing during highschool years.


Most young adults engaging in premarital sex than ever before. Young adults have more sexual partners and sex earlier than compared to decades before. (1940s: men: 18, women: 20) (1990s: men/women: 17). The average age of intercourse is no longer lowering, which may be increasing. Western society has the lowest ages of first sexual experience as well as the highest # of partners in the 18-24 age range.

1) Both Canada and other countries have more adolescents participating in sex.

2) More females are participating in sex, narrowing the gap between males and female

3) First age of intercourse is occurring somewhat lower

4) Moderate variation in ethno-cultural groups

5) Substantial variation from one country to another.


Of great psychological and social significance. Children with poorer child-parent relationships were more likely to initiate sexual intercourse than those who had a strong one. Men reported more pleasure and less guilt than women. Partners who had intercourse in a strong relationship have a more emotional reaction/ attachment than those who didn’t.

Virginity is not a rigid construct; can have many different definitions and meanings to people; those that view it as a “gift” want to lose to a lover, those that see it as a “stigma” want to lose it, anyone.

1) Abstinence. Intercourse outside the construct of marriage to wrong for both gender

2) Permissiveness with affection. Intercourse between male/ female as long as love/ affection is present in a relationship (most common and believed in notion among youth in Canada today..82%)

3) Permissiveness without affection. Intercourse is permissible for both genders simply based on physical attraction.

4) Double Standard. Intercourse outside of marriage is acceptable for males but is not for females.

More men think it is appropriate to have sex on the first date than women. Approval for most sexual activity (i.e kissing, holding hand) is receptive by youth as well as premarital sex.

Reason for engaging in sex. Women= love, Men= pleasure. Then followed by curiosity. The most common reason why we are not are: we’re not feeling ready, not the right opportunity or the right person.

The most common adolescent sexual partner is Serial monogamy. The premarital sexual pattern in which there is the intention of being faithful and committed to a partner, but the relationship may end and the individuals will find new partners.

Friends with benefits or hooking up can occur as well. Hooking up can vary in definition and magnitude. Kissing -> Sex. Men report sex more frequently.

Many teens have been found, not to wear condoms. Or wear it during the beginning of a relationship and switch to birth control. Many teens underestimate the risky behavior of not using a common and rely on science to find a “cure” or that fact that have a romantic sexual script; which doesn’t include the use of condoms with their trusted, loving partner.

Alcohol myopia theory; intoxicated individuals are more likely to engage in sexual behavior because impelling cues (increased sexual arousal) are more immediate than inhibiting cues (sex without protection= STDs or pregnancy). Effect not seen in sober people

Teen pregnancy. Rates of sexual activity don’t vary greatly among western nations but the rate of teen pregnancy is much higher in American and Canada than in comparative European nations. Due to 5 factors:

1) Higher rates in countries where teens were less likely to use effective contraceptive methods

2) Teenagers from poor/ disadvantaged families.

3) National programs that support the transition to adult roles/ jobs and provide incentives (careers/ money) to delay childbirth.

4) Greater sexual acceptance have LOWER rate of teenage pregnancy.

5) Information services/ educators available to educate teenagers on use of contraception.

The negative consequences of teenage pregnancy would more likely come from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds rather than the age of the mother; It was important that the mother finished high school and postponed any further childbirth.

Conflicts. Adolescents experience conflicts between their own behavior and their standards/ attitudes. Therefore they engage in sexual activity will being disapproving of it.

Sexuality/ Adolescent Development. Relationships provide the context in which the individual develops the skills and learns the scripts needed to sustain long-term intimate relationships. Dating, group dates, and social events; provide the opportunity for peers to learn about sexual scripts and behaviors; then enact them later. Sexuality plays an integral part in adolescent development.

author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0


    • It is a part of a human being’s development and self-exploration. You don’t wake up as a 20 something year old and suddenly have a preference. It develops over time as any other preference does.

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