Understanding Variation in Normative Childhood Sexual Behavior: The Significance of Family Context

Thigpen, Jeffry W.,
Fortenberry, J. Dennis
Journal Article
Year Published: 2009
Indiana University
Social Service Review, 83(4): 611-631, December 2009.
The Sexuality Research Fellowship Program of the Social Science Research Council, Ford Foundation

The sexual behavior of children is understudied and not well understood. Applying a social constructionist perspective to childhood sexual behavior, researchers in the present study investigate familial factors that influence the normal expression of such behavior. Analysis of data from primary caregivers of preadolescent African American children shows that childhood sexual behavior varies in accordance with the sexual beliefs and customs of the family. The family structure and the educational status of the primary caregiver also are found to be correlated with childhood sexual behavior. The authors suggest that although the findings must be interpreted cautiously, they provide evidence for the usefulness of a social constructionist perspective, thus illustrating the importance of considering the familial context in assessing childhood sexual behavior. Modified Author Abstract.

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