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Arch Sex Behav. 2002 Jun;31(3):263-73.

Sexual experiences in childhood: young adults' recollections.

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Department of Health and Environment, Faculty of Health Sciences, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, BUP-Elefanten, Linköping, Sweden.


Childhood sexuality and children's sexual experiences have become increasingly important to study because our knowledge on the impact of sexually abusive experiences on children's developing sexuality has increased. The main aim of this paper was to study aspects of young adults' recollections of their sexual experiences before the age of 13, solitary and shared, mutual as well as coercive. Anonymous questionnaires were answered by 269 final year, senior high-school students, mean age 18.6 years; 82.9% of the students reported solitary sexual experiences and 82.5% had mutual experiences together with another child. Most of the children had their experiences together with a same-age friend. Girls had more same-sex experiences than boys did. Thirteen percent reported coercive experiences where they had been tricked, bribed, threatened, or physically forced into participation. Some children, 8.2%, had coerced another child into participation in sexual activities. The majority thought of their childhood experiences as normal. There were also 6.3% of the respondents who had had inappropriate sexual experiences with someone at least 5 years older, the majority being girls. Gender differences were evident in several respects: girls were more often coerced, they felt more guilt, and they had far less experience of masturbation, whereas boys were somewhat more active in explorative activities on their own as well as with peers. Some kind of coercive sexual experiences appears to be part of growing up for quite a few children, although in general the years before puberty seem to be years of frequent mutual sexual exploration and experimentation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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