A large-scale, community-based survey was done to assess the frequency of a wide variety of sexual behaviors in normal preadolescent children and to measure the relationship of these behaviors to age, gender, and socioeconomic and family variables. A sample of 880 2-through 12-year-old children screened to exclude those with a history of sexual abuse were rated by their mothers using several questionnaire measures. The frequency of different behaviors varied widely, with more aggressive sexual behaviors and behaviors imitative of adults being rare. Older children (both boys and girls) were less sexual than younger children. Sexuality was found to be related to the level of general behavior problems, as measured by the Achenbach Internalizing and Externalizing T scores and to a measure of family nudity. It was not related to socioeconomic variables.
- Received March 1, 1990.
- Accepted July 23, 1990.
- Copyright © 1991 by the American Academy of Pediatrics