Focus on the Family


Understanding sexual development and integrity for children ages 5-8

by Rob Jackson

Foundation: We don't like to think about childhood sexual abuse – let alone it happening to one of our children. Sadly, however, sexual exploitation is a reality. According to statistics, one in four girls1 and one in seven boys2will be molested by age eighteen. Frankly, I believe all of our children are covertly abused by the explicit sexual material throughout our culture and media. Raising healthy kids requires proactive parents who understand the culture they live in. And speaking of time, now is the time to equip them with information to (1) prevent excessive vulnerability to sex abuse, and (2) help them to think correctly about sexual exploitation were it to happen to them.


  1. Continue to help your child value his or her physical body. This value lies in the fact that the body becomes the temple of God when one has a faith experience with Jesus Christ.
  2. Proactively protect your child's emerging sexuality without inhibiting him or increasing his anxiety. As parents we can learn to curb our anxiety for our children's well-being as we recognize that God loves them even more then we do. If, however, we're anxious for them, our children will most likely develop their own anxieties.

Iceberg Zones:

  1. We will continue to affirm that the physical body is God's gift to us, and that it houses not only physical organs that are important to our overall health, but that it houses the mind and the spirit.
  2. In this section we will begin to teach our children about the mind, which includes our personality, values, likes and dislikes, etc. This emphasis will include a development of how to think, with an emphasis on healthy thoughts specific to sexual health and integrity.

What's normal

Developmental tasks for your child

How to foster sexual health and integrity in this stage

What to avoid

What to do if you're concerned for your child's development

1L. Dickinson, F. Verloin deGruy, W.P. Dickinson, and L. Candib, "Health-Related Quality of Life and Symptom Profiles of Female Survivors of Sexual Abuse," Arch Fam Med. 1999; 8:35-43.
2Delaplane, D. and A. Delaplane. Victims of Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, Elder Abuse, Rape, Robbery, Assault, and Violent Death: A Manual for Clergy and Congregations. Special Edition for Military Chaplains. Includes a section entitled, "Scriptural References About Children." Scriptures include Hebrew Scriptures, the Talmud, and the New Testament.