Date of Degree

2-2021

Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Liberal Studies

Advisor

Carrie Hintz

Subject Categories

Early Childhood Education | Nonfiction

Abstract

Children’s natural exploration of their bodies and sexual expression through masturbation is often considered to be taboo by many adults and caregivers. It is important that children are taught that they have the right to explore their own bodies, to express and experience any sexual developments that may be happening. A child can be innocent and still have the freedom to explore the biological processes of their sexuality. In early Christianity, 19th century physicians and some 20th century psychologists greatly influenced the negative attitudes around aspects of child sexuality such as masturbation that still thrive today. As far as child masturbation, there is a silencing that continues as children remain excluded from having any agency in the realm of human sexuality.

Furthermore, the agency given to a child at a young age about their sexual experience is critical to their sexual life in adulthood. Parents and caregivers should encourage children’s self-esteem and self-exploration to ensure less guilt and embarrassment. As our society struggles to hold on to its conservative and religious ways, maybe one day, westerners will finally accept children and their god given sexuality, and give them the freedom just to be children, in whatever shape or form that comes in, without restrictions.

My capstone project consists of a parent/caregiver’s manual on the history of masturbation as well as contemporary views. It offers guidance on how to give children the agency and support needed to navigate the exploration of their bodies through the different stages of development.

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