Describe how socio-cultural factors and religious beliefs can influence an individual’s sexual development

Socio-cultural factors that can influence an individual’s sexual development are manifold. During childhood, ideas, views and opinions relating to sexuality will be learned from immediate family. This can include topics such as gender roles, contraception, sex before marriage or promiscuity. Children will be heavily influenced by what they see in the family home. Habitual norms will also influence a child’s sexuality such as marriage, single-parent families, cohabitation and same-sex partnerships.

As a child gets older, their sexual development will be influenced by groups outside of the family home such as friends, teachers and the media. Individuals that go to same-sex schools may have difficulty mixing with the opposite gender in later life and individuals that are ‘sheltered’ by their loved ones may not have the opportunities to grow sexually. The media may present ideas about sexuality that lead to stereotypes.

Religion can also play an important part in sexual development as the ethical and moral codes of many religions have strong views about promiscuity, sex before marriage and homosexuality. This can lead to an individual having conflicting views about sexuality.

Individuals with learning disabilities in particular may have reduced chances of normal sexual development as they may be excluded from sex education and taught that sex is a taboo in an effort by their loved ones to ‘protect’ them despite it being obviously discriminatory.

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