Sexual health is more than the absence of sexual pathology. The anatomy, gender and function of the human body is the foundation of identity. The awareness of the sexual self as an integrated aspect of identity begins in infancy with the attitudes about the physical body communicated by the caretakers.
So begins a wonderful resource by Dr. Loretta Haroian, a former professor at the Institute (where I am earning my Master’s), on the sexual development of children. She details a child’s general development year by year, with special focus on the development of sexuality.
I have read this unpublished manuscript as well as watched about 10 hours of her lectures about the subject. It’s really fascinating stuff and has helped me to understand my kids’ development so much better. Every parent and person who works with children needs to understand and appreciate that children are sexual creatures and that our interactions with them affect the development of their sexual behaviors and attitudes. That’s not to say that one wrong word will ruin them for life, but if we can try to love and accept the WHOLE being and body of a child we go a long way towards helping them be a healthy sexual adolescent and adult.
Also, let me say that I do not *think* I agree with everything she believes. This was written in the 80s and I expect that recent study and work in the field may have made some of her points obsolete. However, it’s worth a read.