Halstead, J. Mark and Waite, Susan (2001) 'Living in Different Worlds': gender differences in the developing sexual values and attitudes of primary school children. Sex Education: Sexuality, Society and Learning, 1 (1). pp. 59-76. ISSN 1468-1811

A small-scale study into the developing sexual values and attitudes of 35 9 and 10 year-old children found a number of important gender differences. The girls were more willing to offer detailed, serious reflections, whereas the boys' contributions were shorter and more jokey, with a greater use of sexual slang. The family was the main source of sexual information for the girls, but friends and the media for the boys. The boys were more interested in contraception, abortion and the mechanics of intercourse and childbirth, whereas the girls were more interested in relationships and more aware of the pain that could be caused by loss of children and early pregnancy. The girls had clearer and more realistic aspirations than the boys in terms of both career and family life, and understood the dangers which drugs, alcohol and violence could pose to relationships; the boys, on the other hand, sometimes appeared insecure in their self-image, and tended, albeit in a joking manner, to link violence and sex. These findings are rich in implications both for policy and practice in sex education and more generally for an understanding of the way that a differentiated sexual identity develops in boys and girls.

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