It covers at least two major areas: anthropology (common or accepted practices across different cultures), and informational (background which is useful to individuals who may be engaged in, or considering, sexual activity)
Those which tend to emphasize innate biology, which may be encouraged or disturbed during childhood. That is, that human sexual development is primarily a biological process and thus basically similar across cultures, and that there is thus a relatively narrow model for healthy sexual development, although this may be disturbed by the influence of the larger culture or by other means. This is the approach used most often in the medical study of child development.
Those which tend to emphasize sexuality as a social construct (with child sexuality strongly influenced by the larger society). This latter school often uses the terms normative (culturally appropriate behavior) and non-normative (culturally inappropriate behavior),and is the approach used in most social scholarship and most discussed in this article.
Freud's 1905 work Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality outlined a theory of psychosexual development with five distinct phases: the oral stage (0 - 1.5 years), the anal stage (1.5 - 3.5 years), the phallic stage (3.5 - 6 years) culminating in the resolution of the Oedipus conflict followed by a period of sexual latency (6 years to puberty) and the genital, or adult, stage. Freud's basic thesis was that children's early sexuality is polymorphous and that strong incestual drives develop, and the child must harness or sublimate these to develop a healthy adult sexuality.
Freud hoped to prove that his model was universally valid and thus turned to ancient mythology and contemporary ethnography for comparative material. Freud named his new theory the Oedipus complex after the famous Greek tragedy Oedipus Rx by Sophocles. "I found in myself a constant love for my mother, and jealousy of my father. I now consider this to be a universal event in childhood," Freud said. Freud sought to anchor this pattern of development in the dynamics of the mind. Each stage is a progression into adult sexual maturity, characterized by a strong ego and the ability to delay gratification (cf. Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality). He used the Oedipus conflict to point out how much he believed that people desire incest and must repress that desire. The Oedipus conflict was described as a state of psychosexual development and awareness. He also turned to anthropological studies of totemism and argued that totemism reflected a ritualized enactment of a tribal Oedipal conflict.
Freud originally posited childhood sexual abuse as a general explanation for the origin of neuroses, but he abandoned this so-called "seduction theory" as insufficiently explanatory, noting that he had found many cases in which apparent memories of childhood sexual abuse were based more on imagination than on real events. During the late 1890s Freud, who never abandoned his belief in the sexual etiology of neuroses, began to emphasize fantasies built around the Oedipus compl