Attune

Attune means harmony. This blog is about harmonizing ourselves in our connection to others and to our planet. I bow to basic goodness in our world and in relationships encourage opening our hearts with love and compassion.

UNDERSTANDING THE EARLY SEXUAL PROBLEMS OF CHILDREN

By:   Susan Grey Smith, PhD, LMFT

March 3, 2014—Part 2:

Most of the sexual problems that children encounter involve other children.  As adults we mostly don’t even recognize that a child has sexual feelings in early childhood that are inherent and spontaneous.  We are not at all involved in our children’s sexual life as they play out with each other what they have learned.  This can be though normal exploration with peers, mutual sexual behavior with age mates who have already encountered exposure to adult sexuality, or with older or more powerful children.  Statistics vary but as much as 75-80% of the sexual abuse of young children is committed by other children or adolescents.  

As a society we are facing an epidemic of children following in our footsteps—uninformed about all the ways our sexuality can cause problems and engaging in problematic behavior early that sets us up for a potential lifetime of sexual problems.

Getting off track with sexual development as originally conceived by Dr. Johnson and Dr. Gil in 1993 is modified here as part of my clinical research.  Children with sexual behavior problems can generally be categorized into three groups of behaviors.  The first group of children’s problematic behavior is reacting to sexual behavior they have either discovered on their own or have been exposed to by other children, adolescents or adults. 

Children in the first group may be reacting to recent or present sexual victimization or exposure to adult sexuality from the most casual and unaware to the most intentional.  This hallmark of this type of behavior is related to exposure to adult sexual themes and is thought of on a continuum—there are many forms of exposure.  One example is unintentionally allowing a child to have access to adult language or sexual scenes in the home (particularly watching older siblings) or on TV, or allowing access to soft porn on late night TV, or allowing access to all types of porn on the internet.  Their sexual curiosity is out of balance because these scenes play in their mind and as a consequence, they become more active sexually than their peers. 

Sexually reactive children may show compulsive, self-stimulating behaviors, imitate adult sexual behavior or talk, try to initiate sexual behavior with both younger and older children, or act sexually suggestive with adults.  The child is acting out his or her confusion because what they have seen or heard is not understandable to the developing child’s mind.  These children may feel shame, guilt and anxiety about their developing sexuality.

Posted 466 weeks ago

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