Understanding variation in normative childhood sexual behavior: The significance of family context

Jeffry W. Thigpen, J. Dennis Fortenberry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

The sexual behavior of children is understudied and not well understood. Applying a social constructionist perspective to childhood sexual behavior, the present study investigates 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. 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)611-631
Number of pages21
JournalSocial Service Review
Volume83
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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