Exploring Culture as Context
This chapter examines how preteens' sexual attitudes and experiences both coincide and differ across gender and racial backgrounds. Age as an index of physical, cognitive, and social development has been found to be related to childhood sexual behavior both qualitatively and quantitatively. For example, a study of 2- to 7-year-olds found that older children were significantly more knowledgeable about aspects of sexuality such as sexual behavior, pregnancy, and sexual abuse prevention. Meanwhile, genital manipulation and masturbatory behaviors are more prevalent among boys, suggesting behavioral differentiation by gender. Factors other than gender and age that influence sexual expression in childhood have been investigated in only a few studies. Liberal parental attitudes regarding sexuality have been found to be associated with specific behaviors such as increased masturbation, frequency of touching parents' genitals, and frequency of sexual behavior overall.
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