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Parental interpretations of “childhood innocence”: implications for early sexuality education

McGinn, L, Stone, N, Ingham, R and Bengry-Howell, A (2016) 'Parental interpretations of “childhood innocence”: implications for early sexuality education.' Health Education, 116 (6). pp. 580-594. ISSN 0965-4283

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Abstract

Purpose:- Despite general recognition of the benefits of talking openly about sexuality with children, parents encounter and/or create barriers to such communication. One of the key barriers is a desire to protect childhood innocence. This study explores parental interpretations of childhood innocence and the influence this has on their reported practices relating to sexuality-relevant communication with young children. Design/methodology/approach:- One hundred and ten UK parents and carers of children aged between 4-7 years were involved in focus group discussions. The discussions were transcribed and thematic network analysis was subsequently applied to the data. Following the reading and re-reading of the transcripts for meaning, context and content, individual comments and statements were identified within the dataset and grouped to generate themes. Findings:- Childhood innocence was commonly equated with non-sexuality in children and sexual ignorance. Parents displayed ambiguity around the conceptualisation of non-innocence in children. Parents desire to prolong the state of childhood innocence led them to withhold certain sexual knowledge from their children; however, the majority also desired an open relationship whereby their child could approach them for information. Originality/value:- UK parents have a strong desire to maintain the social construction of their children as inherently innocent. This discourse is affecting the way in which they communicate about sexually-relevant information with their children.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: communication, children, sex and relationships education, parenting, intergenerational relations, sexuality and the family
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1501 Primary Education
Divisions: College of Liberal Arts
Date Deposited: 04 Jan 2017 15:58
Last Modified: 04 Jan 2017 15:58
URI: http://researchspace.bathspa.ac.uk/id/eprint/8782
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