Is a prepubescent boy capable of enjoying sex?

There are few who still try to cling to the childhood "sexual latency" theory that Freud endorsed. Erections have been observed in utero, boys are sometimes born with erections, and most caregivers have observed erections while changing a diaper. The predisposition of very young boys to openly "play with themselves" until they are shamed or punished into keeping their activities hidden from authority figures is indisputable. The simple fact is that when stimulated, even a prepubertal boy's penis provides him with pleasurable sensations, and he is unlikely to be dissuaded from enjoying these pleasures, at least alone and in private.

As boys develop more independence, most will explore these genital pleasures with peers, and perhaps with older and/or younger persons, finding that the enjoyment is enhanced when it is shared. This can start very early, and tends to increase in intensity as the boy approaches and enters puberty. Wilson (1981) noted that "Young boys are sexually active from a very early age and will pursue their sexuality whenever they can find an opportunity to do so." (p. 134). While these liaisons typically involve other males early on, in mid to late adolescence they usually begin to shift toward females, and only rarely does attraction to peer or older males continue into adulthood.

Here are a few of the many studies that have been made of these issues: Bender, L. & Blau, A. (1937). The reaction of children to sexual relations with adults. Am. J. Orthopsychiatry, 7, 500-518.

Constantine, L. (1981). The Effects of Early Sexual Experiences. In L. Constantine & F. Martinson (Eds.) Children and Sex: New Findings, New Perspectives. Boston: Little-Brown.

Okami, P. (1991). Self-Reports of "Positive" Childhood and Adolescent Sexual Contacts with Older Persons: An Exploratory Study. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 20(5), 437-457.

Sandfort, T. (1987). Boys on their Contacts with Men. Elmhurst, NY: Global Academic Press.

Tindall, R. H. (1978). The male adolescent involved with a pederast becomes an adult. Journal of Homosexuality, 3(4), 373-382.

Vanggaard, T. (1969). Phallos. New York: International Universities.

Wilson, P. (1981). The man they called a monster. North Melbourne, Australia: Cassell.