Practical approach to childhood masturbation--a review

Eur J Pediatr. 2008 Oct;167(10):1111-7. doi: 10.1007/s00431-008-0766-2. Epub 2008 Jun 25.


The aim of this article is to review the literature for information that could guide the clinical practitioner in the assessment and management of childhood masturbation. The boundary between normal and abnormal or deviant masturbation in children remains unclear. Besides the link with sexual abuse, other environmental factors and individual factors, as well as psychiatric disorders, are mentioned in relation to masturbation and sexual behaviour in general in children. However, evidence-based information is missing and, therefore, a safety management approach is advised when a clinician is confronted with childhood masturbation. We conclude that normal psychosexual development, as well as environmental and individual factors, should be considered in the assessment and management of childhood masturbation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Behavior
  • Child Development
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developmental Disabilities
  • Female
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Masturbation*
  • Psychotic Disorders
  • Sexual Behavior