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Bringing the two sensitive areas of childhood and sexuality together ends a dominant and ideological taboo, especially when the issue of childhood sexuality highlights the rights of all children to make informed choices about their own bodies, sexual desires, practices, and identity and when it challenges heterosexual norms. There is a limited understanding of childhood sexuality due to methodological, practical and ethical dilemmas. Publications on this sensitive and controversial issue are predominantly concerned with child sexual abuse. Childhood sexuality is conceptualized in two essential ways. One view is that children are naturally sexually innocent beings in danger from abuse from adults on whom they are also dependent for protection. The second view is that children are naturally sexual beings who need adult guidance to protect and guide them through their sexual development. In the USA and the UK explanations of childhood sexuality predominantly focus on childhood development models which presume that biological developments are signifiers of a child s capacity to make sense of, and to make appropriate decisions regarding, sex and sexuality via adult guidance. Contemporary approaches within social science have problematized these conceptualizations and developmental models of childhood sexuality.
More radical approaches contextualize childhood sexualities in relation to external individual and structural influences. Concerns with childhood sexuality in the USA and the UK concentrate on two key areas. One, adolescent (hetero)sexual activity, can be seen in discussions and interventions regarding teenage pregnancies. In other words what children are doing with/to each other sexually.
Two, pedophilia and child pornography, hence what adults are doing to children sexually. Socially, politically, and legislatively, protectionist and welfarist discourses prevail concerning the protection of pre (hetero)sexual children and ”childhood innocence together with the natural trajectory of heterosexuality. Resistance to dominant conceptualizations and constructions of childhood (hetero) sexuality such as oppositional desires, practices, and identities, including among children themselves ought to be acknowledged.
- Plummer, K. (1991) Understanding childhood sexualities. In: Sandfort, T., Brongersma, E., & van Naerssen, A. (eds.), Male Intergenerational Intimacy: Historical, Socio-Psychological, and Legal Perspectives. Harrington Park Press, New York.
- Sandfort, T. & Rademakers, J. (eds.) (2000) Childhoood Sexuality: Normal Sexual Behavior and Development. Haworth Press, New York.
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