Individual Presentation or Panel Title

Sexual wellbeing in preschool: Cause for moral panic or sites of knowledge construction?

Abstract

Positive sexuality development is an element of wellbeing and contributes to overall health (World Health Organization, 2006). Yet in American cultures this aspect of health is stigmatized and shrouded in silence and secrecy (Chrisman & Couchenour, 2002). The silence is even more pronounced in early childhood education and care settings as children are understood as asexual (Robinson, 2005) and too young to engage in meaningful conversations about sexualized knowledge (MacNaughton, 2000). Allowing and promoting the expression of sexuality in young children is viewed as controversial and discussions about sexuality are avoided or ignored (Davies & Robinson, 2010; Surtees, 2005). Likewise, talking to children about sexuality is seen as “risky business” and further elevates the already heightened sense of moral panic around children’s lives (Davies & Robinson, 2010). Together, these discourses influence the ways in which early childhood educators view children’s sexuality and underpin notions of appropriate explorations and expressions of sexuality in the early childhood classroom and curriculum.

This work in progress presentation will focus on the notion of moral panic and risk around and about children, particularly their constructions of sexualized knowledge. The proposed presentation qualifies as a work in progress as it focuses on literature reviewed for the author’s preliminary dissertation topic. Next steps include narrowing the topic to specific research questions and designing a research approach that best supports this ‘risky’ topic.

Presentation Description

Expressions of sexuality in young children is viewed as controversial and discussions about their constructions of sexualized knowledge are avoided or ignored. This Work in Progress presentation will focus on the notion of moral panic and risk around and about children, particularly their constructions of sexualized knowledge.

Keywords

Early childhood education, sexuality, risk, wellbeing

Location

Magnolia Room A

Publication Type and Release Option

Presentation (Open Access)

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Jun 12th, 2:00 PM Jun 12th, 3:15 PM

Sexual wellbeing in preschool: Cause for moral panic or sites of knowledge construction?

Magnolia Room A

Positive sexuality development is an element of wellbeing and contributes to overall health (World Health Organization, 2006). Yet in American cultures this aspect of health is stigmatized and shrouded in silence and secrecy (Chrisman & Couchenour, 2002). The silence is even more pronounced in early childhood education and care settings as children are understood as asexual (Robinson, 2005) and too young to engage in meaningful conversations about sexualized knowledge (MacNaughton, 2000). Allowing and promoting the expression of sexuality in young children is viewed as controversial and discussions about sexuality are avoided or ignored (Davies & Robinson, 2010; Surtees, 2005). Likewise, talking to children about sexuality is seen as “risky business” and further elevates the already heightened sense of moral panic around children’s lives (Davies & Robinson, 2010). Together, these discourses influence the ways in which early childhood educators view children’s sexuality and underpin notions of appropriate explorations and expressions of sexuality in the early childhood classroom and curriculum.

This work in progress presentation will focus on the notion of moral panic and risk around and about children, particularly their constructions of sexualized knowledge. The proposed presentation qualifies as a work in progress as it focuses on literature reviewed for the author’s preliminary dissertation topic. Next steps include narrowing the topic to specific research questions and designing a research approach that best supports this ‘risky’ topic.