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Sexual experiences in early childhood: 18-year longitudinal data from the UCLA family lifestyles project.



A tension exists between the need for data on child sexuality and the absence of such data. For example, Martinson (1992) recently completed a detailed analysis of American and European popular guides to parents regarding the sexuality of their children. These guides were all authored by persons explicitly or implicitly claiming to be "experts" on child sexuality. However, the texts varied quite widely in content and conclusion and rarely gave credible rationales for the advice they offered. According to according to
prep.
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

3.
 Martinson, this problem is unavoidable because the data do not exist in sufficient quantity to warrant authoritative pronouncements. Therefore, commentators are often tempted to make claims that cannot be supported by evidence.

Without doubt, work in this field has been hampered by a traditional reluctance--particularly in Anglo-American societies--to admit the existence of child sexuality, much less examine its nature (Money, 1986). Whereas the source of this reluctance may be debated, it has had its effect. Although some tentative research has been done in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area.  (cf. Janus & Bess, 1981), most investigations have originated in Northern Europe (cf. Langfeldt, 1990), and the only nominally systematic look at sexual development in early childhood remains the work of Ernest Borneman Ernst Wilhelm Julius Bornemann (April 12, 1915 – June 4, 1995) was a German crime writer, filmmaker, anthropologist, ethnomusicologist, jazz musician, jazz critic, psychoanalyst, sexologist, and committed socialist. , only one of whose many volumes has been translated from the original German (Borneman, 1994). This book reflects many years of research on a large number of young children. Nevertheless, his report remains problematic because Borneman drew conclusions without reference to any empirical procedures for data collection. It is therefore impossible to evaluate his many claims. Moreover, the entire volume reflects a strong psychoanalytic orientation, making the data still more difficult to appreciate for those outside psychoanalytic disciplines.

That the Borneman (1994) book, despite its disappointments, remains "the first comprehensive examination of sex in childhood development between conception and the end of the eighth year" (Bullough, 1994, p. 11) is testimony to historical resistance to the study of childhood sexuality. This resistance should not be underestimated. In a brief earlier summary of some of his work, Borneman (1990) described frequent arrests of his field interviewers as they attempted to tape record children's sexual rhyming games in playgrounds (they eventually trained children to do the tape recording). Similarly, Goldman and Goldman (1982) recounted how they almost abandoned plans to include a North American North American

named after North America.


North American blastomycosis
see North American blastomycosis.

North American cattle tick
see boophilusannulatus.
 sample in their cross-national study of children's sexual thinking as a result of intense resistance from school administrators and parents.

To compound these problems, U.S. research ethics Research ethics involves the application of fundamental ethical principles to a variety of topics involving scientific research. These include the design and implementation of research involving human participants (human experimentation); animal experimentation; various aspects of  and cultural norms have generally precluded the collection of sexual data from children. Therefore, the few existing North American empirical investigations of normative childhood sexuality are limited to retrospective cross-sectional studies of adults (cf. Haugaard & Emery, 1989; Kilpatrick, 1992; Lamb & Coakley, 1993; Leitenberg, Greenwald, & Tarran, 1989. See Janus & Bess, 1981, for an exception.) Because problems of retrospective recall and reportage of sexual data are prodigious and well documented (Berk, Abramson, & Okami, 1995), a pressing need exists for longitudinal data on outcome correlates of peer sexual experiences in childhood. The current study is the first attempt to provide such data.

"Childhood Sexual Rehearsal Play"

Childhood peer sexual interactions are usually referred to as sex play or sexual rehearsal play--phrases that to some degree beg explanation of the events as well as evaluating them. Play sets the stage for a nonpathological activity whose motivation might be similar to that for playing Star Trek Editing of this page by unregistered or newly registered users is currently disabled due to vandalism. , Monopoly, or hopscotch. This reflects the prevailing view in the social science community that sexual activity in childhood differs radically in quality and motivation from post-pubertal and adult sexual behavior sexual behavior A person's sexual practices–ie, whether he/she engages in heterosexual or homosexual activity. See Sex life, Sexual life. . Although this view is predicated in part on assumptions firmly grounded in knowledge of developmental processes (Gagnon & Simon, 1973), it also reflects the more dubious notion that childhood sexuality is somehow not really "sexual"--a notion that in turn expresses the view that sex cannot be considered apart from reproduction (see Abramson & Pinkerton, 1995, for extensive discussion). Childhood sexuality is thus distinguished from adult sexuality, whereas theorizing about supposed child-specific functions and motivations of sexual behavior remains at a primitive stage largely because of the absence of relevant data (Lamb & Coakley, 1993).

On the issue of outcomes of sexual experiences in childhood, commentators tend to be polarized A one-way direction of a signal or the molecules within a material pointing in one direction. . On the one hand, warnings have been issued that sex play masks peer sexual abuse (Cantwell, 1988; Johnson, 1988), serves as a breeding ground for future pedophiles (Crewdson, 1988), or deters normal sexual adjustment in adolescence (Deutsch, 1987). On the other hand, lack of sex play has been indicted INDICTED, practice. When a man is accused by a bill of indictment preferred by a grand jury, he is said to be indicted.  for delaying normal development (Gadpaille, 1981), causing sexual pathology in adulthood (Currier, 1981), or indirectly resulting in social violence, as some have concluded from the work of Prescott (1975, 1979). Unfortunately, data in support of any of these assertions are very scanty, and writers rarely specify the mechanisms by which supposed effects are mediated.

For this reason--and also because of the general scarcity of evidence supporting the notion that isolated events in childhood exert significant effects on adult behavior (Scarr, Phillips, & McCartney, 1990; Vaillant, 1977)--it is not clear why investigators have persisted in trying to find "main effects" of childhood peer sexual experiences. Indeed, even childhood sexual experiences with adults, which a priori a priori

In epistemology, knowledge that is independent of all particular experiences, as opposed to a posteriori (or empirical) knowledge, which derives from experience.
 are presumed damaging, have been shown to vary widely in effects (including no effects) as a consequence of ecological context variables such as duration and frequency, gender, family background variables, specific sexual behaviors, presence of coercion, SES, and so on (cf. Higgins & McCabe, 1994; Kilpatrick, 1992; Parker & Parker, 1991; Rind RIND See Reversible ischemic neurological disability.  & Tromovitch, 1997).

The apparent futility of looking for Looking for

In the context of general equities, this describing a buy interest in which a dealer is asked to offer stock, often involving a capital commitment. Antithesis of in touch with.
 long-term main effects of childhood sexual experience is expressed in the relatively few retrospective studies that do exist--for example, Greenwald and Leitenberg (1989), Leitenberg et al. (1989), and Kilpatrick (1992). These investigators uniformly reported conclusions that form a common sense proposition: Interactive peer sexual experiences in childhood, when viewed apart from the ecological context and phenomenology phenomenology, modern school of philosophy founded by Edmund Husserl. Its influence extended throughout Europe and was particularly important to the early development of existentialism.  of the events, are not associated with any correlates of adult experience--be they beneficial or harmful. Indeed, in the Greenwald and Leitenberg (1989) and Leitenberg et al. (1989) studies, no differences between "experienced" and "nonexperienced" groups were found even under many potentially problematic contextual conditions. On the other hand, Kilpatrick (1992) found mixed positive, neutral, and negative adult correlates as a function of very specific ecological variables. Along similar lines, Haugaard and Tilly (1988) found that characteristics of the childhood sexual experience, rather than the experience itself, were related to positive or negative self-reported responses.

In the current exploratory investigation, 200 children from the UCLA UCLA University of California at Los Angeles
UCLA University Center for Learning Assistance (Illinois State University)
UCLA University of Carrollton, TX and Lower Addison, TX
 Family Lifestyle Project (cf. Weisner & Gamier, 1992) were studied to determine long-term correlates of early childhood peer sexual experiences. These children were part of an ongoing multidisciplinary investigation that currently is in its 20th year. Because criterion variables in the few existing investigations of peer childhood sexual experiences have been focused primarily on sexual adjustment, in the current study we examined a wider range of adjustment correlates at ages 17-18. Control variables included sex of participant, family SES, "conventional" versus "nonconventional" family structure, and family values family values
pl.n.
The moral and social values traditionally maintained and affirmed within a family.
 such as attitudes toward sexuality. We predicated this study on the assumption that retrospective recall of sexual data are unreliable (Berk et al., 1995) and that longitudinal data provide a better record of the occurrence or nonoccurrence of childhood sexual events.

No long-term non-interactive correlates of childhood sex play were expected in the current study. However, we considered it plausible that exposure to sex play might exert effects interactively, for example, with sex of participant. Although Leitenberg et al. (1989) reported no interactions by sex in their retrospective survey of childhood sexual experiences, sex of participant interactions were found among the Family Lifestyles Project children in a concurrent study of exposure to parental nudity and scenes of parental sexuality (Okami, Olmstead, Abramson, & Pendleton, 1996). In general, these findings suggested that sexuality-related events might be experienced differently by boys and girls boys and girls

mercurialisannua.
. Specifically, in the case of exposure to parental nudity, findings pointed toward potentially beneficial correlates of exposure both for boys and girls--for example, greater frequency of positive rather than negative sexual experiences in adolescence and fewer reports of abuse of certain recreational drugs--however, these benefits were attenuated Attenuated
Alive but weakened; an attenuated microorganism can no longer produce disease.

Mentioned in: Tuberculin Skin Test


attenuated

having undergone a process of attenuation.
 for girls. In the case of exposure to primal scenes, findings pointed to neutral or beneficial correlates for boys--such as fewer instances of sexually transmitted diseases Sexually transmitted diseases

Infections that are acquired and transmitted by sexual contact. Although virtually any infection may be transmitted during intimate contact, the term sexually transmitted disease is restricted to conditions that are largely
 (STDs) or involvement in a woman's pregnancy--and neutral or problematic correlates for girls--such as increased frequency of STDs and pregnancy.

Sex differences in sexuality-related psychological response have also been found among prepubertal prepubertal /pre·pu·ber·tal/ (-pu´ber-tal) before puberty; pertaining to the period of accelerated growth preceding gonadal maturity.  and peripubertal children (Gold & Gold, 1991; Sorensen, cited in Kirkendall & McBride, 1990; Knoth, Boyd, & Singer, 1988). In their study of adolescents aged 12-18 who were asked to recall their earliest sexual arousal sexual arousal Horny/horniness, randy/randiness Physiology A state of sexual 'yellow alert' which has a mental component–↑ cortical responsiveness to sensory stimulation, and physical component–↑ penile sensitivity, neural response to stimuli,  and sexual feelings sexual feelings A constellation of psychological sentiments that constitute desire for sexual satisfaction or release of sexual tension , Knoth et al. (1988) reported that girls, as compared with boys, reported arousal patterns congruent con·gru·ent  
adj.
1. Corresponding; congruous.

2. Mathematics
a. Coinciding exactly when superimposed: congruent triangles.

b.
 with the notion that human females typically experience less intense and frequent intrinsic sexual interest (Symons, 1979). Similarly, in the study by Gold and Gold (1991), men, relative to women, reported that their childhood fantasies were more explicit, more likely to have resulted in positive affect, and first experienced at an earlier age. Thus, some sex differences in sexuality-related psychological responses typically found among adult human populations (Buss, 1994; Ellis & Symons, 1990) also appear to be present during preadolescence pre·ad·o·les·cence
n.
The period of childhood just preceding the onset of puberty, often designated as between the ages of 10 and 12 in girls and 11 and 13 in boys.
. Therefore, we explored the possibility of gender differences in response to childhood sex play.

Another context variable that we thought might influence outcome interactively was the general family environment. The sample used for the current study was uniquely suited to examine outcomes of childhood exposure to sex play in "conventional" versus "nonconventional" families (see the following section). Because nonconventional families in our sample typically subscribed to values supportive of relaxed attitudes toward nudity and sexuality--and to "pronatural" postures toward child rearing generally (e.g., breast feeding breast feeding Pediatrics The provision of a neonate and infant with liquified lacteal products 'on tap'; lactation and BF–≥ 6 months before age 20 is associated with a relative risk of 0. , "natural foods," emotional expressiveness)--we hypothesized that sex-play experiences might generate less anxiety among the children of nonconventional families. We therefore expected an interaction such that the sexual activity of children of conventional families would be more problematic than the sexual activity of those from nonconventional families.

Method

Participants

Data from the UCLA Family Lifestyles Project (FLS FLS Falls
FLS Forward Looking SONAR
FLS Front Line States
FLS First Level Support (helpdesk)
FLS Fire Life Safety
FLS Fatty Liver Syndrome (hepatic lipidosis)
FLS Foreign Language School
) were used for the current study. The FLS is a longitudinal investigation founded in 1973 in an effort to examine and evaluate the emerging alternative lifestyles of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Many dozens of publications have resulted over the past two decades from this ongoing database (cf. Eiduson, 1983; Weisner & Garnier, 1992; Weisner & Wilson-Mitchell, 1990).

At the start of the project, 154 "nonconventional" and 50 "conventional" families, matched for SES, were enrolled. In each family, the mother was in her third trimester Noun 1. third trimester - time period extending from the 28th week of gestation until delivery
trimester - a period of three months; especially one of the three three-month periods into which human pregnancy is divided
 of pregnancy. "Nonconventional" families adhered to a wide range of ideologies and lifestyles, but these lifestyles were typically influenced by what has been described as the "counterculture coun·ter·cul·ture  
n.
A culture, especially of young people, with values or lifestyles in opposition to those of the established culture.



coun
." Relational forms included intentional single mothers, social contract couples, and couples living in various types of communal or group living arrangements. These "nonconventional" families were recruited through alternative media announcements, physicians' referral, birthing office records, and other serendipitous ser·en·dip·i·ty  
n. pl. ser·en·dip·i·ties
1. The faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident.

2. The fact or occurrence of such discoveries.

3. An instance of making such a discovery.
 procedures. "Conventional" families were referred by a randomly selected sample of obstetricians from major urban areas of Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. , San Francisco San Francisco (săn frănsĭs`kō), city (1990 pop. 723,959), coextensive with San Francisco co., W Calif., on the tip of a peninsula between the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, which are connected by the strait known as the Golden , and San Diego San Diego (săn dēā`gō), city (1990 pop. 1,110,549), seat of San Diego co., S Calif., on San Diego Bay; inc. 1850. San Diego includes the unincorporated communities of La Jolla and Spring Valley. Coronado is across the bay. . These physicians were asked to refer an expectant mother expectant mother nfutura madre f

expectant mother expect nwerdende Mutter f

expectant mother n
 who was in a "married couple relationship" (Weisner & Wilson-Mitchell, 1990). All participants were living in California when recruited, and they fell between the 20th and 90th national percentile percentile,
n the number in a frequency distribution below which a certain percentage of fees will fall. E.g., the ninetieth percentile is the number that divides the distribution of fees into the lower 90% and the upper 10%, or that fee level
 of SES and education status according to a composite four-factor measure (Hollingshead, 1975) taken when their child was six years of age. Child's age six was chosen for family SES assignment because of early changes in SES and the completeness of SES records by age six. All parents were of European-American origin and were between the ages of 18 and 32 years at first interview. These families were then followed after the birth of their child, who was designated as the "target child" for study (Weisner & Garnier, 1992; Weisner & Wilson-Mitchell, 1990). During the latest phase of data collection (1992-1994), these children were between the ages of 17 and 18 years. Attrition for the FLS sample has been exceedingly low, with outcome measures between 95-98% complete for the first 18 years. The precise numbers of girls and boys varied slightly with each wave of data collection and among variables, but most of the current analyses included valid data for 96 boys and 88 girls.

During the initial 6 years of data collection (1974-1980), parents were paid $5-10 for each interview or questionnaire session. They were also offered medical care for their child worth up to $80. During the 17- to 18-year wave of data collection, the adolescent men and women were given $25 for participation.

Measures

This project included multiple measures in an interdisciplinary venture. The predictor variable Noun 1. predictor variable - a variable that can be used to predict the value of another variable (as in statistical regression)
variable quantity, variable - a quantity that can assume any of a set of values
 for our study was early childhood "sex play." During the six-year data-collection phase, mothers and fathers were asked separately on two occasions in face-to-face, semi-structured interviews with FLS investigators a series of questions pertaining per·tain  
intr.v. per·tained, per·tain·ing, per·tains
1. To have reference; relate: evidence that pertains to the accident.

2.
 to nudity and sexuality This article or section may deal primarily with the U.S. and may not present a worldwide view.  in the home. One of these questions specifically asked whether the parent had any knowledge of "sex play" the child may have engaged in. Parents who responded affirmatively (parents were also given "don't know Don't know (DK, DKed)

"Don't know the trade." A Street expression used whenever one party lacks knowledge of a trade or receives conflicting instructions from the other party.
" and "no" options) described the nature of the sex play experience of their child. These affirmative answers were coded by FLS investigators in the following manner: (a) theme sex games such as "doctor," "house," or "mom and dad" (see Lamb & Coakley, 1993, for a taxonomy of such games); (b) masturbation masturbation

Erotic stimulation of one's own genital organs, usually to achieve orgasm. Masturbatory behavior is common in infants and adolescents, and is indulged in by many adults as well. Studies indicate that over 90% of U.S. males and 60–80% of U.S.
 only; (c) combination of sex play with masturbation; and (d) attempted intercourse. These answers were dichotomized for the current analysis to include "no" and "masturbation only" in the "no" category and all other sexual activities in the "yes" category. We consolidated in this manner because of the relatively small sample size, the exceedingly few positive responses to the "attempted intercourse" option, and the ubiquity Ubiquity
See also Omnipresence.



Burma-Shave

their signs seen as “verses of the wayside throughout America.” [Am. Commerce and Folklore: Misc.
 of infantile infantile /in·fan·tile/ (in´fin-til) pertaining to an infant or to infancy.

in·fan·tile
adj.
1. Of or relating to infants or infancy.

2.
 masturbation. Data from fathers were frequently unavailable for this variable, with only 49 fathers providing responses. Although there was a significant agreement between the mother's and father's reports (p [is less than] .05), the overall magnitude was low (phi = .33, phi max = .92). Additionally, it appeared that mothers were more likely to report each type of sexual behavior (including masturbation only) than were fathers. In 27% of cases, mothers reported sexual behavior, but fathers did not; the opposite was in only 12% of cases. We therefore decided to use only the data from mothers' reports in the analyses. Questions pertaining to "sex play" were asked on entirely separate occasions from questions related to so-called "gender roles," "gender play," and "gender-identification," all of which were examined in extensive detail by the FLS and reported in a number of publications, particularly Weisner and Wilson-Mitchell (1990).

"Sexual liberalism/sexual conservatism" was assessed at child's age three by aggregate rating of mother's response to a series of (a) FLS-created face-valid "paper and pencil" questions regarding attitudes toward sexuality, measured by a four-point Likert scale Likert scale A subjective scoring system that allows a person being surveyed to quantify likes and preferences on a 5-point scale, with 1 being the least important, relevant, interesting, most ho-hum, or other, and 5 being most excellent, yeehah important, etc  anchored by "agree" and "disagree," (for example, "It is important to have, laws prohibiting homosexual relationships" or "If two people really like each other it's all right for them to have sex even if they've known each other for only a very short time"); and (b) by responses to face-to-face questions from FLS interviewers (for example, "What is your attitude about childhood sex play?"). "Liberal" parents typically expressed greater tolerance of homosexuality, tolerance of childhood masturbation and sex play (independent of the actual presence of masturbation and sex play), permissive permissive adj. 1) referring to any act which is allowed by court order, legal procedure, or agreement. 2) tolerant or allowing of others' behavior, suggesting contrary to others' standards.


PERMISSIVE.
 attitudes regarding nudity in the home Nudity in the home or parental nudity is a controversial issue in parenthood. There is wide disagreement over whether, and if so to what extent, parents should appear naked in front of their children; and wide variation in the amount of parental nudity from family to family. , fewer unfavorable attitudes about children witnessing parental intercourse, a willingness to discuss sex and reproduction with children, and beliefs in gender equality. "Conservative" parents expressed lower tolerance and less permissive attitudes and beliefs.

Self-acceptance and relations with peers, parents, and other adults were measured using subscales created by Huba and Bentler (1982) and Newcomb, Huba, and Bentler (1983) for the UCLA Adolescent Growth study. Participants were given two columns of differential statements and a five-point Likert scale anchored by (1) "the answer on the left is true for sure" and (5) "the answer on the right is true for sure." The direction of responses was counterbalanced coun·ter·bal·ance  
n.
1. A force or influence equally counteracting another.

2. A weight that acts to balance another; a counterpoise or counterweight.

tr.v.
. Participants were asked to circle the number that best described "the way you are most of the time." Each subscale consisted, of four items. Some sample items are "discouraged with myself/generally pleased with myself," "little sex appeal/sexy," "pretty satisfied with my friends/not very happy with my friends," and "parents don't think my ideas are worth much/parents usually respect my ideas."

Anti-social behavior and substance use were also measured by scales created for the UCLA Adolescent Growth Study (cf. Huba & Bentler, 1982; Newcomb et al., (1983). In the case of antisocial antisocial /an·ti·so·cial/ (-so´sh'l)
1. denoting behavior that violates the rights of others, societal mores, or the law.

2. denoting the specific personality traits seen in antisocial personality disorder.
 behavior, participants were asked how many times over the previous six months they had engaged in various specific instances of theft, fighting, assault, and vandalism. A specific time period (six months) was used to increase accuracy and consistency of reporting. Substance use was assessed using multiple measures. Participants were first asked how many times over the previous six months they had used a wide variety of nonprescription non·pre·scrip·tion
adj.
Sold legally without a physician's prescription; over-the-counter.
, prescription, and illicit substances, including tobacco in any form, alcohol in any form, marijuana and hashish hashish (hăsh`ēsh, –ĭsh), resin extracted from the flower clusters and top leaves of the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa, and C. indica. , barbiturates Barbiturates Definition

Barbiturates are medicines that act on the central nervous system and cause drowsiness and can control seizures.
Purpose
 and other sedatives, antidepressants Antidepressants
Medications prescribed to relieve major depression. Classes of antidepressants include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (fluoxetine/Prozac, sertraline/Zoloft), tricyclics (amitriptyline/ Elavil), MAOIs (phenelzine/Nardil), and heterocyclics
, cocaine, amphetamines Amphetamines
Sympathomimetic amines; sometimes called speed; synthetic chemicals that stimulate the central nervous system.

Mentioned in: Weight Loss Drugs

amphetamines
 and other strong stimulants Stimulants
A class of drugs, including Ritalin, used to treat people with autism. They may make children calmer and better able to concentrate, but they also may limit growth or have other side effects.

Mentioned in: Autism
, heroin and other narcotics narcotics n. 1) techinically, drugs which dull the senses. 2) a popular generic term for drugs which cannot be legally possessed, sold, or transported except for medicinal uses for which a physician or dentist's prescription is required. , LSD LSD or lysergic acid diethylamide (lī'sûr`jĭk, dī'ĕth`ələmĭd, dī'ĕthəlăm`ĭd), alkaloid synthesized from lysergic acid, which is found in the fungus ergot (  and other hallucinogenics, PCP PCP
abbr.
1. phencyclidine

2. primary care physician


Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) 
, MDMA MDMA 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine.

MDMA
n.
3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine; a mescaline analog.


MDMA 3,4 methylenedioxy-methamphetamine. See Ecstasy.
 ("Ecstasy"), glue, amyl nitrate Noun 1. amyl nitrate - a vasodilator that is sometimes used to treat angina pectoris
vasodilative, vasodilator - a drug that causes dilation of blood vessels
, and non-prescription sleeping pills, stimulants, cough syrups, and cold medications. They were also asked how many times over the previous six months they had been involved in accidents while using these substances.

After eliminating from the pool items pertaining to legally available substances and alcohol and tobacco (which were kept as separate measures), the remaining 16 items were subjected to principal components analysis with varimax rotation to reduce the overall level of redundancy. Five factors met the eigenvalue eigenvalue

In mathematical analysis, one of a set of discrete values of a parameter, k, in an equation of the form Lx = kx. Such characteristic equations are particularly useful in solving differential equations, integral equations, and systems of
 [is greater than] 1.0 rule (72% explained variance Explained variance is part of the variance of any residual that can be attributed to a specific condition (cause). The other part of variance is unexplained variance. The higher the explained variance relative to the total variance, the stronger the statistical measure used. ). Factor scores were derived for each participant to be used as outcome measures. The drug use factors were labeled Hard drugs--minor sedatives; Hard drugs--cannabis, LSD, psilocybin psilocybin (sĭl'əsī`bən), perception-altering substance found in some species of mushroom. See hallucinogenic drug. , "Ecstacy"; Hard drugs--(highest loading items) PCP, inhalants inhalants,
n.pl 1. chemical vapors that are inhaled for their mind-altering effects.
2. in herbology, volatile herbal compounds that are delivered by holding a soaked pad to the nose and mouth, by placing the herbs in steaming water, or
, tranquilizers, other psychedelics; Hard drugs--amyl nitrate, amphetamines, other narcotics; and Hard drugs--heroin, cocaine, barbiturates, inhalants.

Four antisocial behavior factors were yielded by principal components analyses (58% explained variance) from the 15 items of the subscale. These are referred to as Antisocial behavior--theft, Antisocial behavior--vandalism, Antisocial behavior--felonies, and Antisocial behavior--fighting.

Rates of pregnancy and STD (Subscriber Trunk Dialing) Long distance dialing outside of the U.S. that does not require operator intervention. STD prefix codes are required and billing is based on call units, which are a fixed amount of money in the currency of that country.  transmission were addressed using face-valid, FLS self-report measures. The participants , were asked whether the event happened in the past six months, and, if it occurred, whether it was experienced as positive or negative. Participants were also asked to rate the effect that the event had on their life using a four-point Likert format with points marked no effect, some effect, moderate effect, and great effect. The presence or absence of sexual activity over the previous six-months was measured in binary fashion by a single face-valid item asking whether the adolescent had been sexually active. Quality of sexual relationships was addressed by items asking whether the adolescent had fallen deeply in love, begun dating a new boyfriend/girlfriend, or broken up with a boyfriend/girlfriend. Suicidal ideation suicidal ideation Suicidality Psychiatry Mental thoughts and images which hinge around committing suicide. See Suicide.  was measured in binary fashion by a single face-valid item asking whether the participant had contemplated suicide during the previous six months.

Procedures

Data were collected from parents and children several times over the first year, twice during the second year, yearly for the subsequent four years, and infrequently for the next six years. Data were collected through FLS staff home visit observation and evaluation; parent and child visit to FLS headquarters at UCLA, where they were interviewed by FLS staff using FLS measures, teacher reports; independent and school psychologists' observations and evaluations; and standard measures administered by school psychologists and independent psychologists, including objective and projective tests Projective tests
Psychological tests that probe into personality by obtaining open-ended responses to such materials as pictures or stories. Projective tests are often used to evaluate patients with personality disorders.

Mentioned in: Personality Disorders
. No data were collected after 12 years until the current wave of data collection at year 17-18. For the current study only 17-18-year outcome data were analyzed.

At ages 17-18, participants were mailed booklets that contained the outcome measures. They completed the booklets and were paid $25. Parents completed a second booklet that was not used in the current analysis.

Because questions have been raised in the clinical literature about the saliency sa·li·ence   also sa·li·en·cy
n. pl. sa·li·en·ces also sa·li·en·cies
1. The quality or condition of being salient.

2. A pronounced feature or part; a highlight.

Noun 1.
 of sexual experiences in childhood, criterion variables included adjustment measures relevant to a number of clinical issues. Outcome measures at ages 17-18 included self-acceptance; relations with parents, peers, and other adults; drug use; anti-social behavior such as theft, vandalism, assault, and other crime; suicidal ideation; sex-related "problems" (getting or having gotten someone pregnant, getting or having gotten an STD); quality of sexual relationships; and sexual liberalism/conservatism. Control variables included sex of the child, SES, Sexual Liberalism/Sexual Conservatism, and "conventional" versus "nonconventional" status.

Results

Seventy-seven percent of mothers reported that their child had engaged in sex play prior to age six. If masturbation-only experiences are discounted, this figure is reduced to 47.6%.

Each continuous outcome measure was subjected to a standard multiple regression Multiple regression

The estimated relationship between a dependent variable and more than one explanatory variable.
 analysis. The model included SES, gender, family conventionality (conventional versus nonconventional), and family sexual ideology (liberal versus conservative). The main effect for sex play was included with interaction terms for sex play X gender and sex play X family conventionality. Binary outcomes (been sexually active, been suicidal, been in an accident involving alcohol or drugs over the last six months) were analyzed with logistic regression In statistics, logistic regression is a regression model for binomially distributed response/dependent variables. It is useful for modeling the probability of an event occurring as a function of other factors. .

Inflated Type I error rate was deemed a serious concern, given the overall number of analyses. A critical A = .0025 was selected using the Bonferroni method as a guide. Coefficients significant with p [is less than] .05 are indicated in boldface See boldface font.  in the tables but are treated as trends only. The correlations among the predictor variables appear in Table 1.
Table 1
Correlations of Predictor Variables

                  Demographics       Family Climate
                SES         Gender   Traditional        Sexual
                                                      liberalness

SES
Gender          .01
Traditional     .37         -.10
Sexual          -.04        -.02        -.41
  liberalness
Sex play        -.11         .11        -.20             .27


Note: N = 185; Correlations in bold are significant, p [is less than] .05, two-tailed.

Standard regression results appear in Table 2. As can be seen, family sexual liberalness in early childhood predicted adolescent sexual liberalness at ages 17-18. There were a number of nonsignificant non·sig·nif·i·cant  
adj.
1. Not significant.

2. Having, producing, or being a value obtained from a statistical test that lies within the limits for being of random occurrence.
 trends for variables other than exposure to sex play.
Table 2
Standardized Regression Results for Age 18 Outcomes (N = 171 to 179)

                                                 Family
                        Demographics             Climate
                                                          Sexual
                       SES   Gender(*)   Traditional   liberalness

Positive               .21     -.32         -.75           -.16
  sexual
  experiences(a)
Sexual                 .14     -.11         -.00            .37
  liberalness
Sex-related           -.07      .03         -.01           -.00
  "problems"
Relations              .19      .02         -.33            .09
  w/parents
Relations              .15      .04         -.35            .04
  w/family
Relations              .06      .20         -.24           -.03
  w/other
  adults
Relations             -.09      .02         -.31           -.01
  w/peers
Self-                 -.10     -.16          .01           -.07
  acceptance
Antisocial             .00      .05         -.21            .18
  behavior--
  theft
Antisocial             .05     -.12         -.03           -.03
  behavior--
  vandalism
Antisocial            -.05     -.17          .36            .07
  behavior--
  felonies
Antisocial            -.13     -.17          .52           -.09
  behavior--
  fighting
Tobacco               -.08     -.03         -.19            .05
Alcohol                .05      .10          .04            .19
Hard drugs--           .07      .26          .25            .09
  minor
  sedatives
Hard drugs--          -.09     -.08          .36            .16
  cannabis, LSD
  psilocybin,
  "Ecstasy"
Hard drugs--           .01     -.13          .29            .11
  PCP, inhalants,
  tranquilizers,
  other psychedelics
Hard drugs--           .02     -.18          .24            .09
  amyl nitrate,
  amphetamines,
  other narcotics
Hard drugs--          -.06     -.26          .04           -.22
  heroin, cocaine,
  barbiturates,
  inhalants

                                       Sex Play
                       Exposure      Interactions(**)

                         Sex
                         play       Gender   Traditional

Positive                 .02         .44        .60
  sexual
  experiences(a)
Sexual                  -.06         .28       -.16
  liberalness
Sex-related              .04        -.01        .03
  "problems"
Relations                .07         .06        .22
  w/parents
Relations                .05        -.04        .22
  w/family
Relations                .10        -.14        .10
  w/other
  adults
Relations                .02        .14         .31
  w/peers
Self-                    .23       -.09        -.09
  acceptance
Antisocial              -.00       -.19         .33
  behavior--
  theft
Antisocial               .10        .06         .09
  behavior--
  vandalism
Antisocial              -.01        .06        -.21
  behavior--
  felonies
Antisocial               .14        .14        -.42
  behavior--
  fighting
Tobacco                 -.02        .15         .10
Alcohol                 -.04        .04        -.04
Hard drugs--             .16       -.22        -.26
  minor
  sedatives
Hard drugs--             .17        .10        -.31
  cannabis, LSD
  psilocybin,
  "Ecstasy"
Hard drugs--            -.06        .11        -.16
  PCP, inhalants,
  tranquilizers,
  other psychedelics
Hard drugs--            -.06        .23         .22
  amyl nitrate,
  amphetamines,
  other narcotics
Hard drugs--             .07        .33        -.18
  heroin, cocaine,
  barbiturates,
  inhalants


(*) Positive betas indicate females score higher.

(**) Positive betas indicate that the exposure relationship for females/traditional familes is closer to +1.0 (i.e., more positive or less negative).

(a) Of those reporting sexual experiences; N = 97

Significant beta: bold and underlined, p [is less than] .0025, two-tailed; Trends: bold, p [is less than] .05 two-tailed

Table 3 displays the results for binary outcome variables. There were no significant results, although there was a tread for family sexual liberalness to be associated with reduced use of certain drugs.
Table 3
Logistic Regression Results for Age 18 Outcomes (N = 175)
                                        Family
                Demographics            Climate
                                                  Sexual
                SES     Gender(*)  Traditional    liberalness
Sexually        -.10      -.59        -.28         -.28
 active?
Suicidal        -.24     -1.73        -.20          .21
 thoughts?
Accident        -.24     -2.13        1.96          .54
 alc/drug
                                Sex Play
                Exposure      Interactions(**)
                Sex
                play        Gender    Traditional
Sexually        -.25         .47        -.21
 active?
Suicidal        -.86        1.18         .02
 thoughts?
Accident         .13        1.54         .65
 alc/drug


(*) Positive coefficients indicate females score higher.

(**) Positive coefficients indicate that exposure relationship is more positive (or less negative) for females/traditional families.

All coefficients are nonsignificant.

Discussion

In this article, we have reported results of the first longitudinal study longitudinal study

a chronological study in epidemiology which attempts to establish a relationship between an antecedent cause and a subsequent effect. See also cohort study.
 of long-term correlates of early childhood peer sexual experiences. Outcome variables were examined for 200 children from "conventional" and "nonconventional" homes at ages 17-18. After controlling for family SES, status as "conventional" versus "nonconventional" family, sex of participant, and family attitudes toward sexuality, no significant associations were found between childhood sex play and long-term adjustment. There were no interactions according to family "traditionality."

Thus, our prediction of no significant main effects was supported, whereas predictions of interactions involving family type were not. In this regard, whereas the nonconventional families no doubt differed from the conventional families, a great deal of heterogeneity also existed among the sample.

One strong association emerged that should be of interest to human sexuality This article is about human sexual perceptions. For information about sexual activities and practices, see Human sexual behavior.
Generally speaking, human sexuality is how people experience and express themselves as sexual beings.
 professionals: Children from sexually liberal homes were significantly more likely than those from conservative homes to become sexually liberal themselves in young adulthood. Thus, for this sample at least, we did not see a "rebellion" effect, where children of the counterculture develop "puritanical" attitudes as young adults.

Almost half of this sample had engaged in interactive sex play prior to age six (that is, sexual activity apart from solitary masturbation). It is probable that were sex play prevalence to have been measured at puberty puberty (py`bərtē), period during which the onset of sexual maturity occurs. , this figure would be quite a bit higher. Prevalence estimates for childhood sex play have varied considerably, and results of the current study add weight to higher-end estimates.

Findings of no "main effect" correlates of sex play do not demonstrate conclusively that no such correlates exist. Any investigation may fail to detect some potentially demonstrable effect for the sample under study, or the sample under study may not adequately represent the population from which it was drawn. Nevertheless, the results of this first longitudinal investigation are in accord with virtually all previous cross-sectional retrospective research in failing to detect "main effect" correlates of childhood peer sexual experiences. At least some of these correlations ought to have been apparent for sex play if these experiences exert the pernicious pernicious /per·ni·cious/ (per-nish´us) tending toward a fatal issue.

per·ni·cious
adj.
Tending to cause death or serious injury; deadly.
 influence hypothesized by some commentators. However, no such correlations were apparent. In fact, none of the estimated effect sizes for the sex play variable exceeded 5%.

No significant differences in the responses of boys and girls were found. Lack of findings of sex differences may be attributable to a number of factors. The most parsimonious par·si·mo·ni·ous  
adj.
Excessively sparing or frugal.



parsi·mo
 explanation is that, whereas boys and girls may well differ in psychological mechanisms mediating sexual behavior, the experience of childhood sex play lacks the requisite valence Valence, city, France
Valence (väläNs`), city (1990 pop. 65,026), capital of Drôme dept., SE France, in Dauphiné, on the Rhône River.
 to trigger differential long-term effects. A second explanation is that sex-differential response is a function of variables too subtle for the current analysis to have isolated. Finally, it may be that most experiences under study were one- or two-time events (although we cannot be certain of this because frequency measures were not taken). If this were the case, and in accord with previous research on isolated events of childhood (cf. Scarr et al., 1990; Vaillant, 1977), no long-term correlates should have been expected.

Limitations of the Data

A number of issues need to be raised in considering the validity of these results. The Family Lifestyles Project is a unique longitudinal data set with exceedingly low attrition. However, the FLS was not designed to look at the question of effects of childhood peer sexual experiences in particular. Data on peer sexual experiences were collected among literally thousands of variables intended to be descriptive in an ethnographic eth·nog·ra·phy  
n.
The branch of anthropology that deals with the scientific description of specific human cultures.



eth·nog
 sense. The presence or absence of peer sexual experiences was determined by questions posed to mothers and fathers separately (although only mothers' data were used for the current analysis). Whereas the type of sexual event was described in a general way (playing "doctor"- or "house"-type games, games plus masturbation, attempted intercourse), important information on partner (e.g., age difference, partner relation) duration and frequency (e.g., one time only vs. frequent) and quality of the event (e.g., forced vs. voluntary, happy vs. sad) are absent. Thus, we are left only with a general idea of the type and complexity of the sexual experience, and, given the low frequency of reports of attempted intercourse, this study cannot be said to address the question of consequences of intense sexual experiences, nor can it address the question of aggressive or unwanted experiences.

Additionally, the occurrence of peer sexual experiences was determined from parent self-report. Although Okami (1994) argued that parent self-reports should not be construed as accurate indicators of child sexual behavior, his objections centered on problems of reliability in the reporting of the behaviors of latency-and puberty-aged children. Because we were concerned with exposure in early childhood, we presumed parent reports to be fairly reliable (Friedrich, Grambsch, Broughton, Kuiper, & Beilke, 1991). However, there is no way to ascertain reliability. United States research ethics and the general social climate preclude the use of more direct measures of childhood sexual behavior. Therefore, in the interim, parent reports and adult retrospective reports are the only options available.

Finally, although the control variables were chosen because of their potential relevance, any number of unknown variables--particularly distal variables (Scarr, 1985)--may have had an effect on the criterion measures. Children exposed to peer sexual experiences may have been exposed differentially to other, causative caus·a·tive  
adj.
1. Functioning as an agent or cause.

2. Expressing causation. Used of a verb or verbal affix.



caus
 variables. Additionally, several potentially interesting control variables were not chosen--for example, quality of mother-child attachment. This variable was not included because it failed to account for substantive variance in pilot analyses of outcomes of exposure to sexuality-related variables.

Despite these limitations, the current study is an advance over previous attempts to examine outcome correlates of childhood peer sexual experiences. In particular, the sample, although not representative of the general population, includes a cross-section of "conventional middle class" families, as well as nonconventional families. Parents of the FLS children subscribed to a very wide range of beliefs and attitudes. The sample is also unusually complete for a longitudinal study spanning two decades.

Whereas negative results for data sets need to be treated with caution until they are replicated repeatedly, and this study is a long way from being definitive, the current results converge on earlier, cross-sectional retrospective studies and thus add weight to the view that childhood sexual experiences with peers lack the global, long-term pathogenic power commonly attributed to them.

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The difference between estimated transaction costs and the amount actually paid.

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We thank Dr. Thomas S. Weisner, Director of the Family Lifestyles Project, for his patience and cooperation; Dr. Helen Garnier for her extensive assistance and support; and Laura Pendleton for research assistance.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Paul Okami, Ph.D., 935 S. Normandie Avenue, #7, Los Angeles, CA 90006. E-mail: birdlvs@netcom.com.

Manuscript accepted January 31, 1997
COPYRIGHT 1997 Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:University of California, Los Angeles
Author:Abramson, Paul R.
Publication:The Journal of Sex Research
Date:Sep 22, 1997
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