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The awareness of the sexual self as an integrated aspect of identity begins in infancy with the attitudes about the physical body communicated by the caretakers. A., is present at birth, and there is evidence that the neurological maturation necessary to produce penile erections occurs in utero.
The sexual response cycle as described by William Masters, M. The development and expression of the erotic response throughout the human lifespan is not a well studied phenomenon, and normative data have not been compiled for sexual behaviors of childhood and adolescence.
The children in sexually permissive and sexually supportive societies display a similar developmental pattern that is not apparent in sexually restrictive and sexually repressive societies: In infancy, there is usually manual and oral genital stimulation of children of both sexes by parents as a means of comforting and pacifying them (most frequently between mothers and sons).
In pubescence, girls rapidly accelerate into a phase of intense sexual experience, culminating in the acquisition of basic sexual techniques at the adult level.
Boys follow a similar pattern, but their learning process is not as rapid or complete because they are usually experimenting with younger girls.
Those who survived were often maimed or crippled to make them more poignant beggars and were at the mercy of unscrupulous and exploitive adults.
Sexual exploitation of children was freely indulged in until the latter half of the 18th century, at which time it was fully repudiated.