Whereas this might be understood in a solely negative and non-evolutionary context, the fact of the matter is that human psychological development was not understood until the past few centuries. Conversely, some of humanities earliest attempts at science and philosophy were naturally religious and social in origin. As a direct function of this, it becomes clearly obvious that the extent to which culture and religion impacts upon a society with regards to defining appropriate mores of psychological development are not by nature inherently good or bad; rather, they merely exhibited an outdated and oftentimes faulty form of defining and constraining human development and behavior. One of the most sensitive forms of human development and behavior that can be discussed is with regards to sexual development. Due to the litany of different approaches, both liberal and exceedingly conservative, that exist concerning sexual development, it comes as no surprise that the level of deviation that exists between cultures the scientific communities, and different religious perspectives is extraordinarily broad. Accordingly, the following analysis will seek to underline and discuss some of the ways in which child sexual development and maturity is viewed within the culture and religion of the Middle East and Saudi Arabia; a culture to which this author belongs. Through such an analysis, and more appropriate definition of sexual development within the Arab world, and Saudi Arabia specifically, well help the reader to come to a more profound understanding of why many of the cultural norms and mores of this region have a pervasive and long-lasting impact with regards the way in which sexuality and development is viewed by these stakeholders.
Firstly, it must be understood that Islam has had a profound impact upon the culture of Saudi Arabia and the means by which individuals approach issues concerning sexuality and the permissiveness of certain activities with regards to childhood development. Even a cursory review of child sexual development from a scientific perspective lends one to understand that it is both common and even acceptable for children to explore their own bodies and varying forms of pleasure as the sexual stages of psychological development occur (Hossain, 2012). In cultures around the world, this has often been seen as a form of impropriety and discouraged by the parents. However, within the past several decades, psychologists and scientists have come to the understanding that is a normal state of human development and as such should not be punished or discouraged by the parent/caretaker. Rather, in order for helping sexual development to occur, the child must feel comfortable with a level of exploration and freedom of their own body. Even though these situations may prove to be uncomfortable for the parent/caretaker, realizing that these serve as fundamental elements of healthy development is a key step in promoting the overall development of the child in question. Harkening back to the issue of Islam and the way in which Islamic moral values denote proper child rearing and development, such a level of exploration is neither permissible nor allowed. Rather, the parent is encouraged, by the Islamic tradition, to punish and/or restrain the child from any such “impure” activities (Cervantes-Altamirano, 2013). However, even though this analysis has thus far been centric upon the infant and toddler stage of sexual development, childhood