Formation of children as healthy sexual beings
Flanagan, P. (2019). Formation of children as healthy sexual beings. Presented at the Anglophone Safeguarding Conference, Rome, Italy.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12739
Forming children as healthy sexual beings: What understandings of child sexuality can mean for adults who care for children. In recent decades, greater awareness of child sexual abuse (csa) in society, and the exposure of abuse within Church contexts particularly, has necessarily seen the introduction of child protection education programmes and safeguarding practices for child protection. There has also been a parallel reconfiguration of sociological theories and questions about sexuality and childhood. This paper invites a reimagining of childhood and a critical view of some of the assumptions about how approaches to risk protection have developed. Questioning concepts of ‘innocence’ as natural and some of the assumptions that children should be ignorant of sexuality until puberty, a brief historical overview is taken of childhood in relation to sexuality. Examining the philosophical ideas around childhood innocence, this notion is challenged as potentially unhelpful (and possibly harmful) to safeguarding and protection practices to keep children safe. Presenting recent research (from the UK, Australia, South Africa and NZ), an understanding of children as curious and knowing 'sexual beings' may offer communities of faith more visible and articulate ways of understanding children as sexual beings and further developing practices of safety with children. It is important that adults find the language and safe spaces to speak about these ideas.
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