La investigación sobre sexualidad infantillimitaciones y recomendaciones

  1. González Ortega, Eva
Summa Psicológica UST

ISSN: 0718-0446

Year of publication: 2020

Volume: 17

Issue: 1

Type: Article

DOI: 10.18774/0719-448X.2020.17.455 DIALNET GOOGLE SCHOLAR lock_openDialnet editor

More publications in: Summa Psicológica UST


Children may display behaviors and have feelings of a sexual nature. However, due to the paucity of research, society often fails to acknowledge developmentally-appropriate sexual experiences in childhood, and there is no consensus on which behaviors are normative. This review aims to describe the main conclusions of studies in this field and to analyze the gaps in knowledge, the existing methodological shortcomings, and the resulting recommendations for future research. According to findings, studies should pay more attention to thoughts and feelings related to sexuality, the children’s perspective; normative, healthy sexual expressions; and the relevant sexual socialization factors. Both direct and indirect methods, quantitative and qualitative techniques, should be combined to enhance the richness and validity of findings. The article also presents ethical tips. In conclusion, there is a need to further examine childhood sexuality from a comprehensive, ecological approach that provides an empirical basis for the development of interventions in children´s sexual health.

Bibliographic References

  • Allen, B. (2017). Children with Sexual Behavior Problems: Clinical characteristics and relationships to child maltreatment. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 48(2), 189-199.
  • Ballester, R., & Gil, M.D. (2006). La sexualidad en niños de 9 a 14 años [Sexuality in children 9-14 years old]. Psicothema, 18(1), 25-30.
  • Balter, A. S., Van Rhijn, T. M., & Davies, A. W. J. (2016). The development of sexuality in childhood in early learning settings: An exploration of early childhood educators’ perceptions. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 25(1), 30-40.
  • Bazán, D. (2016). Entre los dichos y los trazos infantiles. Reflexiones sobre las construcciones sexuales de niños y niñas. Revista de Estudios de Antropología Sexual, 1(7), 16-28.
  • Bonilla, C. B. (2010). Justificaciones morales de los niños y niñas acerca de la sexualidad. Revista Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales, Niñez y Juventud, 8(2), 1013-1023.
  • Bancroft, J. (Ed.) (2003). Sexual development in childhood. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
  • Bancroft, J., Herbenick, D. L., & Reynolds, M. A. (2003). Masturbation as a marker of sexual development. Two studies 50 years apart. In J. Bancroft (Ed.), Sexual development in childhood (pp.134-155). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.
  • Brilleslijper-Kater, S. N., & Baartman, H. E. M. (2000). What do young children know about sex? Research on the sexual knowledge of children between the ages of 2 and 6 years. Child Abuse Review, 9(3), 166–182.
  • Colucci, E. (2007). “Focus groups can be fun”: The use of activity-oriented questions in focus group discussions. Qualitative Health Research, 17(10), 1422-1433.
  • De Graaf, H., & Rademakers, J. (2006). Sexual behavior of prepubertal children. Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality, 18(1), 1-21.
  • De Graaf, H., & Rademakers, J. (2011). The Psychological measurement of childhood sexual development in western societies: Methodological challenges. The Journal of Sex Research, 48 (2-3), 118-129.
  • Ethical Research Involving Children –ERIC (n.d). Ethical guidance. Retrieved from:
  • Fargas-Malet, M., McSherry, D., Larking, E., & Robinson, C. (2010). Research with children: Methodological issues and innovative techniques. Journal of Early Childhood Research, 8(2), 175-192.
  • Flanagan, P. (2012). Ethical review and reflexivity in research of children’s sexuality. Sex Education: Sexuality, Society and Learning, 12(5), 535-544.
  • Friedrich, W.N. (1997). Child Sexual Behavior Inventory: Professional manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.
  • Friedrich, W. N., Fisher, J., Dittner, C., Acton, R., Berliner, L., Butler, J., … Wright J. (2001). Child Sexual Behavior Inventory: Normative, psychiatric and sexual abuse comparisons. Child Maltreatment, 6, 37–49.
  • Gilbert, J. & Lamb, S. (2018). Interdisciplinary Approaches to Sexual Development in Childhood and Adolescence. In S. Lamb and J. Gilbert (Eds.) The Cambridge Handbook of Sexual Development: Childhood and Adolescence (pp. 1-13). Cambridge University Press
  • Kaeser, F., DiSalvo, C., & Moglia, R. (2000). Sexual behaviors of young children that occur in schools. Journal of Sex Education and Therapy, 25(4), 277-285.
  • Kastbom, A., Larsson, I., & Svedin, G. (2012). Parents’ observations and reports on the sexual behaviour of 7 to 13 years old children. Reproductive System & Sexual Disorders, 1(2), 1-6.
  • Kenny, M. C. & Wurtele, S. K. (2013). Child Sexual Behavior Inventory: A comparison between Latino and normative samples of preschoolers. Journal of Sex Research, 50(5), 449-457.
  • Lamb, S., & Plocha, A. (2014). Sexuality in childhood. In D.L. Tolman & L.M. Diamond (Eds.), APA handbook of sexuality and psychology: Vol. 1. Person-based approaches (pp. 415-432). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  • Larsson, I., & Svedin, C. G. (2002a). Teachers’ and parents’ reports on 3 to 6-year-old children’s sexual behaviour. A comparison. Child Abuse & Neglect, 26(3), 247-266.
  • Larsson, I., & Svedin, C. G. (2002b). Young adults’ recollections of sexual behaviour and experiences in childhood. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 31(3), 263-273.
  • Larsson, I., Svedin, C. G., & Friedrich, W. N. (2000). Differences and similarities in sexual behaviour among pre-schoolers in Sweden and USA. Nordic Journal of Psychiatry, 54(4), 251-257.
  • López, F., Del Campo, A., & Guijo, V. (2002). Prepuberal sexuality. European Journal of Medical Sexology: Sexologies, 11(42), 1-12.
  • López, F., Fernández-Rouco, N., Carcedo, R.J., Kilani, A., & Blázquez, M. I. (2010). La evolución de la sexualidad prepuberal y adolescente: Diferencias en afectos y conductas entre varones y mujeres. Cuestiones de género: De la igualdad a la diferencia, 5, 165-184
  • Lussier, P., McCuish, E., Mathesius, J., Corrado, R., & Nadeaus, D. (2017). Developmental trajectories of child sexual behaviors on the path of sexual behavioral problems. Evidence from a prospective longitudinal study. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 1-37.
  • McCosker, H., Barnard, A. & Gerber, R. (2001). Undertaking sensitive research: Issues and strategies for meeting the safety needs of all participants' Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 2(1), 2–6.
  • Miragoli, S., Camisasca, E., & Di Blasio, P. (2017). Child sexual behaviors in school context: Age and gender differences. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 26(2), 213-231.
  • O´Sullivan, L. F. (2003). Methodological issues associated with studies of child sexual behaviour. In J. Bancroft (Ed.), Sexual development in childhood (p. 27). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press
  • Reynolds, M. A., Herbenick, D. L., & Bancroft, J. (2003). The nature of childhood sexual experiences. Two studies 50 years apart. In J. Bancroft (Ed.), Sexual development in childhood (pp.134-155). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.
  • Simmons, K. (2014). Childhood sexual behavior: An integrated developmental ecological assessment approach. Antioch University Dissertations & Theses, 276.
  • Thigpen, J. W., & Fortenberry, J. D. (2009). Understanding variation in normative childhood sexual behavior: The significance of family context. Social Service Review, 83(3), 611-631.
  • UNICEF (n.d.). Fact sheet. The right to participation. Retrieved from:
  • Vizcarral, M. B., Balladares, E., Candia, C., Lepe, M. and Saldivia, C. (2004). Conducta sexual durante la infancia en estudiantes chilenos. Psicothema, 16(1), 58-63).
  • WAS (2014). WAS Declaration of Sexual Rights. World Association for Sexual Health
  • WHO (2006). Defining sexual health. Report of a technical consultation on sexual health, 28-31 January 2002. Geneva: World Health Organization.
  • WHO Research Ethics Review Committee – ERC (n.d). Informed consent form templates. Retrieved from:
  • Wurtele, S. K., & Kenny, M. C. (2011). Normative sexuality development in childhood: Implications for developmental guidance and prevention of childhood sexual abuse. Counseling and Human Development, 43(9), 1-24.