Sexual experiences in early childhood: 18‐Year longitudinal data from the UCLA family lifestyles project


Okami, Paul, Olmstead Richard, & Abramson Paul R.
Volume34 - 4
IssueJANUARY 1997
Type of WorkResearch Project

PDF Version:

We present results of the first longitudinal study of long-term outcome correlates of sexual experiences in early childhood ("sex play"). Two hundred children participated in the UCLA Family Lifestyles Project (FLS), beginning at birth to the current wave of data collection at ages 17-18.

For most of the current analyses, data were complete for 96 of the young men and 88 of the young women. Participants were assessed on a wide range of adjustment variables devised for the FLS and the UCLA Adolescent Growth Study.

Participation in early childhood sex play was determined by parent selfreports at child's age three and age six. Forty-eight percent of children were reported to have engaged in interactive sex play prior to age six.

Using socioeconomic status, sex of participant, family attitudes toward sexuality, and family type (conventional two-parent versus nonconventional) as controls, no significant long-term associations were found between exposure to sex play and adjustment at ages 17-18.

Sexual liberalism / conservativism in family of origin was significantly associated with sexual liberalism / conservativism at ages 17-18. These results converge on earlier cross-sectional retrospective work, suggesting that the experience of childhood sex play in itself is unrelated to long-term adjustment.