Alice in Wonderland: Sexual Upbringing in America

Reiss, Ira L.
Place PublishedBerlin
PublisherPrometheus Books
Extent287 pp
Essay - Chapter in book

We can't stop our children from finding out about types of sexuality that we don't like. But if we openly and honestly discuss sex with our children, we can help make them responsible and caring in their own sexual choices regardless of what today's world exposes them to. 

As I will shortly discuss, we know that infants masturbate and children of all ages explore each other's genitalia. So sex in children is far from dormant. 
Let's be honest about preadolescent sexuality. 

The joining of sex negativism with male dominant gender roles is an explosive mixture.
We have to empower children.

If we want to reduce exploitation of children, we have to empower children. Young people need to know that they have real choices to make in the area of sexuality. To do that we must develop a pluralistic rather than a dogmatic approach to sex. 
Forbidding or ignoring all child sexuality does not give a child control over his or her sexuality. Only when children are given the right to say yes to some forms of sexual exploration will children feel that they have the responsibility to say no to other sexual practices.

The evidence is persuasive that at least one of the major causes of the sexual abuse of children lies in traditional beliefs about sexuality and male dominance that are too narrow to provide fathers with an understanding of other less destructive ways of coping with their desires for sexuality and power. 

Ironically, it is the traditionalists who are the most emotional in condemning the sexual abuse of children. These same traditionalists fail to see how often their own footprints lead up to the scene of
that crime.

Sexual Pluralism is The Pathway to Non-abusive Sex.

Parental denial of sexuality loads childhood sexuality with the baggage of guilt and repression, which they may carry throughout life. Parental acceptance gives children a belief that they can manage their sexual behavior in ways comparable to the management of other important parts of their lives. 

We don't lose control by empowering children with sexual rights; we gain control, for it is we, the parents, who give our children permission. If our children move in directions we think harmful, we can redirect them but only if they view us as part of the learning process rather than as a repressive element in their lives.

Childhood sexual exploration should not be seen as a step toward sexual obsession