Sexual Curiosity is one of those tricky experiences that can by perceived as normal childhood curiosity or sexual abuse.
In one of my teaching classes, my classmates and I did an exercise that would help us recognize listening blocks. Listening blocks are actions that people do that prevent active listening. Some examples of listening blocks include daydreaming and sparring.
The exercise went like this: one student told a story, and the rest of the other students and I had cards that had a listening block. We had to role play the listening block. I roleplayed a listening block where the speaker said a “trigger” word, (alcohol) and I sparred with him by reacting badly to it.
My Classmate’s Story
The exercises were fun, but what intrigued me was the speaker’s story. His story was that at a school he taught, two fifth grade students performed oral sex with each other in a pool. Another classmate of mine chimed in and said that she had a female fourth-grade student who profusely masturbated in the class by rubbing her genitals on the chair corners, and how her parents took her to the pediatrician to get help. I wondered how far childhood sexual curiosity could go before it reached abnormality.
Sexual Acts Done Out of Curiosity?
There are tragic stories of sexually abused children, but what about sexual acts that committed out of curiosity? Is there a fine line between inquisitiveness and sexual abuse, or can it be blurry? Can sexual abuse happen between two kids who are eight years old and ten years old? Would the child get charged? Can a child even understand what they’re doing?
It Doesn’t Matter if it’s Consensual, Sexual Abuse is Sexual Abuse
I spoke to my writing group about sexual abuse. The members said that it doesn’t matter if an act was consensual or not, sexual abuse is sexual abuse. If a child was exposed to sexual acts and acts it out towards their peers, that’s the fault of the parents.
Children need protection, or else people will take advantage of them. They told me curiosity is when a boy and girl check to see if they have the same genitals, not perform intercourse. A writing group member told me that when a kid masturbates at a young age, it’s a comfort habit for the kid, not a sexual habit.
Chuck and Buck
In the film Chuck and Buck, the main character Buck and his former best friend Chuck, experimented with each other sexually when they were 11. Would that be considered curiosity or sexual abuse?
Lena Dunham, the writer-actress of the show Girls, admitted in her memoir, Not That Kind of Girl, that she experimented with her sister when she was six years old, and her sister was one. Here is a passage that shows that.
“As she grew, I took to bribing her for her time and affection: one dollar in quarters if I could do her makeup like a ‘motorcycle chick.’ Three pieces of candy if I could kiss her on the lips for five seconds. Whatever she wanted to watch on TV if she would just ‘relax on me.’ Basically, anything a sexual predator might do to woo a small suburban girl I was trying… What I really wanted, beyond affection, was to feel that she needed me, that she was helpless without her big sister leading her through the world. I took a perverse pleasure in delivering bad news to her—the death of our grandfather, a fire across the street—hoping that her fear would drive her into my arms, would make her trust me.”
In one context, I can see where people can view Dunham as molesting her sister. It doesn’t help that she describes herself as a sexual predator. The other context is that Dunham was six, and likely didn’t understand what she was doing was sexual. At that age, she probably thought what she was doing was purely innocent.
Second Graders Perform Oral Sex?!
In college, I read a newspaper article where two-second graders performed oral sex with each other in a supervised classroom.1 It’s unfortunate that the adults involved in the situation, the parents of both kids and the teacher, didn’t protect them. In my view, this pushes the case of sexual curiosity too far.
I Don’t Want This to Happen
As an upcoming teacher, I don’t want to this happen. I don’t want to deal with a student who doesn’t know when to masturbate. I don’t want to deal with students who mimic sexual acts that they don’t understand.