Progress in empirical research on children's sexuality

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When my first research team began its work some 40 years ago, we believed, for instance, that a boy's first pollution indicated that his semen had become fertile. We believed, too, that a girl could not be impregnated before she had had her first menstruation. We accepted these assumptions because they seemed obvious. It never occurred to us to question or test them. [...]

Our difficulties began when we told the parents that we wanted to film their children's masturbation activities and were eager to measure their bodily reactions. It then turned out that even the most "progressive" parents were not willing to let us proceed. This meant that we had reached the limits of what was permissible in physiological research on children's sexuality at that time. [...]

The child has no natural sense of "obscenity" and no natural sense of "shame". It derives its knowledge of these matters from other children who have learnt it from other adults. It infers what it is supposed to feel and think not only from the spoken words of its elders but primarily from their unconscious expressions - face, body, gesture, stance.

Human infants are born with the gift of communicating without words. That is why they understand their parents' body language long before the parents begin to learn the body language of their baby. Children begin to forget this innate knowledge only when they learn to talk. Most children, however, retain a rudimentary knowledge of body language up to adolescent age and can therefore read adults' secret thoughts and feelings very much better than adults can read those of their children.

source: Article 'Progress In Empirical Research On Children's Sexuality' by Ernest Borneman (Dr.phil.,Tit. Prof., President of the Austrian Society for Research in Sexology); 1983