Sexual behaviors of young children that occur in schools

Frederick Kaeser, Claudia DiSalvo, Ron Moglia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although very little research exists on children’s sexual behaviors, it has been suggested that young children today are expressing more sexual behavior and interest in sexual matters than they have in the past. Consequently, it is likely that they will express some of this behavior publicly within a school setting. When these behaviors occur at school, it is incumbent upon educators to be able to accurately determine whether their students’ sexual behaviors are normative or problematic, along with how they should be addressed. This study describes the observations and reactions of 29 kindergarten, 1st-, and 2nd-grade teachers towards the sexual behaviors of their students over a 6-month period. Of the 378 sexual behaviors that were observed, 162 were determined to be within the normative range of children’s sexual behavior. A total of 184 behaviors were identified as problematic or potentially problematic, requiring varying levels of adult intervention, including therapeutic follow-up. Sexual behaviors of a communicative nature were the most frequently observed behaviors, followed by students touching other students’ genitals, buttocks, or breasts. There were 14 behaviors where students either forced other students to expose or touch their private parts, or used sexually explicit threats towards them. The teachers discussed only 26 of the sexual behaviors with a colleague, and only 9 of the incidents were reported to the school principal; none was reported to the state’s child protective hotline.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)277-285
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Sex Education and Therapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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