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Material on the Latency Period in Children

submitted by Ruth F. Gulbransen

To whom it may concern:

Since we are hearing how necessary sex education is for the good of our children, I lay before you a discussion by several psychiatrists about the latency period and how important it is for children 12 and under NOT to be concerned about sexual matters.

"The second sexual phase (after babyhood and young childhood) is referred to throughout the world as the "latency period." It is a period in which nature causes direct sexual energies in the 6-12 year old child to become dormant. There is nothing hypothetical about the latency period. It has been shown to exist throughout the world - in primitive as well as civilized people." (Melvin Anchell, M.D., A.S.P.P.)

"They (psychiatrists) constantly observe latency - the real 'McCoy,' not just a deceptive appearance of it . . . during latency, the child develops an inner control system. During latency, adult communication with him about adult sex is an intrusion into an important and necessary privacy." (Vann Spurniell, M.D., Psychoanalyst)

"There is a phase of personality development called the latency period, during which the healthy child is not interested in sex. This interval from about the age of five until adolescence serves a very important biological purpose. It affords a child an opportunity to develop his own resources, his beginning physical and mental strength. Premature interest in sex is unnatural and will arrest or distort the development of the personality. Sex education should not be foisted on children. . ." (William McGrath, M.D., Psychiatrist)

Though direct sexual energies become quiescent during latency, these energies do not disappear but are redirected by the 6-12 year old mind, and are used to serve other purposes. For example some redirected sexual energy is used for acquiring knowledge. This is why the 6-12 year old child is most educable.

"Prior to the establishment of today's public school sex teachings, teachers seemed to realize that involving the 6-12 year old child in sexual matters made the child uneducable, and they made every effort to avoid arousing the child sexually."

(The last two paragraphs above are quotes by Melvin Anchell, M.D., A.S.P.P.)

In today's world there are other prominent intrusive elements into this latency period, namely, television and the internet. Parental watch care and guidance are so important to the well-being of our children. They not only need our supervision but also the example of our own standards.

Submitted by Ruth F. Gulbransen

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