By the age of 15, nearly 100 per cent of boys have masturbated (and, as one commentator has said, those who haven’t are liars!). The proportion of girls who masturbate is lower in each age group, but in recent years the proportion is increasing.

It is now accepted by all but a few fearful people that masturbation is a normal sexual outlet and an important sexual learning process, and the anxiety that masturbation will lead to moral or physical decay has declined. Despite this, many adolescents who masturbate feel guilty because they fear that their parents will punish them, and because of inaccurate memories of the dangers of masturbation as discussed by their peers in whispered conversations. The myths which surrounded masturbation have been largely discredited, but they still cause anxiety and guilt.

Despite our knowledge that masturbation is healthy, and that nearly all people masturbate, most people are still ashamed to let it be known that they masturbate. When asked they become reticent and defensive. They are reluctant to tell their friends, lovers, or mates. This is an example of the way in which a normal pleasurable activity has been debased by societal condemnation.


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