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Child sexual assault or curious play? Adults negotiating appropriate behaviour in terms of age, gender and sexuality when responding to an incident in Swedish early childhood education
Malmö University, Faculty of Education and Society (LS), Department of Childhood, Education and Society (BUS).ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1549-9900
Malmö University, Faculty of Education and Society (LS), Department of Childhood, Education and Society (BUS).
2023 (English)In: Sex Education: Sexuality, Society and Learning, ISSN 1468-1811, E-ISSN 1472-0825, p. 1-13Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Using an intersectional analysis, this article critically analyses implied and expressed norms to identify perceptions of appropriate behaviour in children’s play, and to explore how social communicative arenas such as Internet forums construct knowledge and values. Adults’ responses to an incident that occurred amongst a group of children in Swedish early childhood education as part of free play during the preschool day were analysed. The incident was described in a thread posted on the Familjeliv (Family Life) internet forum. The research questions were: what images of children are prominent in discourse on appropriate behaviour as part of free play; what discursive categorisations of children related to age, gender and sexuality can be identified within this discourse; and how do these categorisations intersect? Netnography provided the method used together with thematic content analysis. Findings reveal two contrasting views: first, the view that four-year-olds cannot commit sexual assault on another person; and second, the view that they can. Young children were constructed either as non-sexual, innocent, curious and playful, or as perpetrators who lack consequentialist thinking. Age was the dominant discursive category utilised in relation to sexuality and appropriate behaviour, followed by gender. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2023. p. 1-13
Keywords [en]
Age, discursive categories, early childhood education, gender, intersectionality, sexuality
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:mau:diva-62724DOI: 10.1080/14681811.2023.2253532ISI: 001058863700001Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85169838685OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mau-62724DiVA, id: diva2:1798786
Available from: 2023-09-20 Created: 2023-09-20 Last updated: 2023-10-10Bibliographically approved

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Linda, PallaEng, Jessica

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