Sexual Behavior During Infancy and Childhood

What common patterns characterize emerging sexuality during childhood?

What is the nature and meaning of sex play with friends during childhood?

The Physical Changes of Adolescence

What major physical changes accompany the onset of puberty in boys and girls?

How do the physical changes of adolescence affect sexuality?

Adolescent Pregnancy

What are the major trends in and causes and implications of teenage pregnancy in the United States?

What strategies might be effective in reducing teenage pregnancy?

Sex Education

How can parents provide valuable and effective sex education for their children?

How does sex education influence young people’s sexual experimentation?

Sexual Behavior During Adolescence

What behavior patterns are characteristic of teenage sexuality?

What trends have been evident in adolescent coital activity over the last several decades?

© Paul Steel

My earliest recollection of an experience that could be labeled as sexual in nature involved thrusting against the pillow in my crib and experiencing some­thing that felt really good, which I now believe must have been an orgasm (actually, I remember doing this many times). I was probably around 2 at the time, give or take a few months. What is odd about these early experiences is that I distinctly remember sleeping in my parents’ bedroom but never being reprimanded for this "self-abuse" behavior. Either my parents were very heavy sleepers, or they were very avant-garde in their view of sex. Knowing my par­ents, I presume the former is true. (Authors’ files)

In many Western societies, including the United States, it was once common to view the period between birth and puberty as a time when sexuality remains unexpressed. However, as many of you can no doubt attest from your own experiences, the early years of life are by no means a period of sexual dormancy. Perhaps you can even recall sensual or sexual experiences similar to the quoted account that date from the early years of your life. In this chapter, we outline many of the common sexual experi­ences and behaviors that take place during the formative years from infancy through adolescence.