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Children’s bodily and sexual integrity: Word meaning negotiation in online forum discussions

Conference contribution
Authors Jenny Myrendal
Jenny Bengtsson
Published in Lavender Languages and Linguistics 26, Gothenburg 2-4 May
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Education, Communication and Learning
Language en
Keywords Integrity, children, word meaning negotiation, online interaction
Subject categories Linguistics, Pedagogy


The discourses surrounding young children’s bodily and sexual integrity are diverse and at times contradictory. Positions on children’s right to knowledge about self-determination over their own bodies sometimes conflict with positions advocating that such information should not be forced upon children who are too young (and too innocent) to understand “adult issues”. Teaching materials dealing with the topic also switch between perspectives; on the one hand taking the perspective of the adult role-model instilling sound values in children about where bodily boundaries should be drawn, on the other hand encouraging the children themselves to follow their intuition about what “feels right”. In this paper, we investigate how participants in discussions in an online Swedish discussion forum negotiate their respective takes on the meaning of the notion ‘children’s integrity’ by engaging in processes of word meaning negotiation (Myrendal 2015, 2019). We empirically explore how arguments are formed and what positions are taken in the negotiation process amongst the parties involved in the online discussions, and analyse how the interlocutors jointly form a common understanding. We also compare how the notion of children’s integrity is made sense of within the online interactions with how it has been framed within policy documents such as the national curriculum for preschools, and recent materials on children, integrity and rights.

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