What parents teach about sexuality to their children

Carla Ferreira, Helena Ferreira, Marta Alves, Cláudia Tavares, Liliana Macedo, Ângela Dias


Introduction: The child’s sexual development is a physiological process, influenced by children’s age, children’s experiences and for what is taught to them. So, those who actively participate in children education should be aware of the relevance of sexual education approach.
Objectives: Characterize sexual education of children aged six and seven years.
Methods: An observational, cross-section and community based study was performed and the targets were parents of children aged six and seven years. A self-administered questionnaire was applied addressing sociodemographic data and characterization of children sexual education. A score was built, by questions summation, with the aim of evaluating child knowledge about sexual education, and parental involvement in this education, which was higher, as higher the score obtained. All statistical analyses were performed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences® (SPSS), 22.0. software package for Windows.
Results: We obtained questionnaires from 127 parents, with a mean age of 38 years and mothers’ predominance. Twenty-two percent of parents sought knowledge about their child sexuality, and one third obtained doctor’s information. Although 91,2% referred to feel comfortable to approach sexuality with their children, 62,9% never did it, mainly because they considered to be too early. When sexual education was performed at home, the questions were raised mostly by children’s initiative. Human reproduction and gender differences were addressed exclusively at home in 55,8% and 35,5%, respectively. Parents initiative to approach adequate body behaviour in public/private domains and body inappropriate behaviour by others were made in 88,5% and 97% of cases, respectively. The average of score of parents’ sex education performance was 13,7 and there were differences between mothers (14,5±5,3) and fathers (12,6±4,9) assessment (p <0.05).
Conclusions: The results show that parents do not prioritize this aspect of child development, which is reiterate by infrequent approach of issues related to sexual education by parents’ initiative.


Child; preschool age; sexual development; sexuality

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