What is the Limit to Childhood Sexual Curiosity?

In my fundamental teaching class I’m taking, my classmates and I did an exercise that would help us recognize listening blocks. Listening blocks are actions that people do that prevent effective listening. Examples include daydreaming, placating, and sparring.  The exercise went like this: one student told a story, and the rest of the other students and I were given a card that had a listening block we had to role play. I role played a listening block where the speaker said a “trigger” word, (alcohol) and I sparred with him by reacting badly to it.

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 class by rubbing her genitals on the chair corners, and how her parents took her to the pediatrician to get help. The stories had me wondering how far childhood sexual curiosity can go before it’s considered abnormal.

There are tragic stories where children are sexually abused, but what about sexual acts that are done out of curiosity? Is there a fine line between curiosity and sexual abuse, or can it blurred? 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?

I spoke to people in my writing group, and all of them said that it doesn’t matter if an act was consensual or not, sexual abuse is sexual abuse. If a child is exposed to sexual acts and acts it out towards their peers, that’s the fault of the parents. Children need protection or else they will be preyed upon. They told me curiosity is when a boy and girl check to see if they have the same systems, not perform intercourse. A writing group member, who’s also a mother of two children, 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

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 was probably thinking 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 is a case of sexual curiosity pushed too far.

I Really Don’t Want This to Happen 

I ruminate over this because 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.

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