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Sexual childhood: Questions for practice to prevent harmful/problematic behaviour

Workshop Title: Sexual childhood: Questions for practice to prevent harmful/problematic sexual behaviour. Abstract: Children are sexual beings, but what does this mean to parents, teachers and practitioners concerned with how to respond to problematic and harmful sexual behaviour? Reflecting on 20 years of practice and research, I examine societal and community views of childhood sexuality, with a view to re-imagining what a sexual childhood might look like. Paediatric and psychological research has identified normative and abnormal sexual behaviour, and what constitutes consent and power between children related to their age, cognitive and physical dis/ability and size. Questioning current notions of childhood as innocent and ignorant of sexuality, this presentation explores cultural practices that might lead to more acceptance of sexual childhood. Reporting on a recent study, this presentation will question practices that hide sex/sexuality in children’s lives as reproductive knowledge and pleasure, and proposes a therapy that works with significant adults that does not fear children as sexual citizens. Using discourse theory to explore and analyse dominant western understandings of childhood, it is proposed that an effective approach to working with children and families is one that requires confrontation and interrogation of the silence around child sexuality, rather than reaction and panic. This workshop aims to: - Examine the language around children and sex/sexuality - Explore the notion of sexual childhood - Respond to issues of problematic sexual behaviour in the light of this notion - Engage with practice examples of therapy with children and families - And consider ethical issues around this work
Conference Contribution
Type of thesis
Flanagan, P. G. (2019). Sexual childhood: Questions for practice to prevent harmful/problematic behaviour. Presented at the Valuing all voices. Australian and New Zealand Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abuse - 9th Biennial Conference, Brisbane, Australia.
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