Naturists Campaigning for Naturism

“Think of the Children!”

Original article by Duncan Heenan (edited Reg Barlow)

About four years ago, British Naturism and Naturist Action Group came together to look at how the justice system in England and Wales approached incidents involving public nudity. Most of the cases we studied involved Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1988 and to be successful, prosecutors had to show the defendant’s behaviour was ‘likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress’ to a member of the public. Inevitably, much of the argument in court would revolve around whether non-sexual, non-aggressive nudity was capable of doing this and in virtually every case, the prosecution would state that ‘a child could have seen’ a naked adult. This brought an automatic assumption that, whatever the effect of the sight of a naked person may be on an adult, it was bound to cause alarm to a child. The reasoning or truth (if any) behind this statement has rarely, if ever, been questioned by those in court, simply accepting it as one of life’s “truths”.

The justice system is not wholly to blame as the same untested assumption is widely held within the general public, not only here, but the world over. Statements making reference to nudity are often peppered with references to it not being suitable for children – even the film classification system incorporates it ­– yet there is no real evidence to support this piece of ‘accepted wisdom’. Unchallenged, people are becoming scared to question the notion that the mere sight of a naked body is harmless, in case they are considered perverted. The precautionary principle, which surrounds anything to do with children nowadays, has grown so strong it has subverted common sense and science. Malcolm Boura summed this up at the recent BN convention when he said: “The moment someone shouts ‘Think of the children!’ all thought stops.”

Together, NAG and BN have come to understand that children and nudity is a stumbling block for public acceptance of naturism, as well a legal threat and that naturism as a whole needs to address this issue rather than hoping it will go away. As well as our general campaigning, it has been decided by both organisations to set up a joint project with the specific aim of persuading an academic institution with sociology and/or psychology departments to carry out a rigorous and objective study into the effects of simple, non-sexual adult nudity on children. In the past, there have been several studies of how exposure to nudity affects children, all with positive conclusions, but they are at least a decade old and may not look directly at the subject we wish to be studied. We are looking for an end product that will be equal to an expert witness in court, one that people will feel confident in quoting. As this could be of worldwide importance to naturism, such a study may also need an international dimension.

Can you help?
We are not looking for volunteers to carry out the study; we recognise that we do not have either the skills or the resources to do that but you might know institutions or academics that might help, how to approach them and how to obtain research funding? If so, please get in touch. If you have any information, suggestions or comments that you think might help, please contact Duncan Heenan by any of the methods given below:
by email:;
or by Personal Message via the BN website.

18 Responses to “Think of the Children!”

  • Thanks to BN and NAG for tackling this subject. It crosses difficult territory but needs to be tackled in a responsible and professional manner.

  • This is an excellent idea, which I fully support; only moral support, sadly.

    • Naturally, this project will be launched by BN through their forum and magazine in time and both of us will pick up on the subject again in our writings for H&E Naturist and Naturist Life, but you could help by reposting or adding a link, to this article in forums and other social media you might use.

      That doesn’t mean your moral support isn’t gratefully received. Thank you grockledoc and Gerry.

  • Have you thought of approaching; ‘The Academy of Social Sciences’ this is the “National Academy of Academics, Learned Societies and Practitioners in the Social Sciences.
    Its mission is to promote social sciences in the United Kingdom for the public benefit.”
    It is a pity that we may be just a little late with this as: “In 2015, the ESRC National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM) will commission a number of new methodological research projects to a value of £5 million. The commissioned projects will become formal parts of a geographically distributed Centre and will play a key role in achieving NCRM’s strategic objectives.

    NCRM is now undertaking a consultation of the UK social science research community in order to identify methodological research areas which are of national strategic need. The results of the consultation will play a key role in specifying the focus of the call for proposals. Please contribute to the consultation by completing this short online form.
    Unfortunately “You must make your submission to this consultation by Friday 7th November 2014.”
    I am sure that they will be able to help with this.

    • Thanks for that Mike. I will make sure Duncan has seen your comment.

  • I am currently making enquiries re funding and supervision for a study in this area. If I succeed it would be with a very well regarded university of which I am an alumna.

    • Thanks for that Christine. I’ve forwarded your comment to Duncan Heenan. If you’re successful, please let him know by emailing Many thanks.

  • Thanks for the follow up Christine. I’d be very interested to know what you come up with. If there is anything I can do to help, please let me know.

  • You may find this pertinent.
    ‘Tesco hides newspaper covers to stop children seeing ‘sexualised pictures’’

  • Is this an organisation we should be working with?

    • Thanks Mike. I’ve looked at the website and watched the news item on the BBC News website. One part of me wants to agree with them, as I think some newspaper front pages’ can be a bit OTT. The example used in the film clip was a up-skirt picture used by one newspaper. Yet another part says would a small child, even one that is of school age, really understand? Could it be that these parents are really trying to save themselves from having to answer a difficult or awkward question? Still, it’s a lead and I’ll pass it on. I’m just not certain they are open minded enough to see the distinction between a picture of a naturist and, perhaps that is of something less savoury.

  • “BREAKING: Winnie the Pooh is a hermaphrodite, exposes himself in public and has no business being around children — at least according to a Polish town council.”

    ‘Dr. Ronal Langevin testified that adults or children who are exposed to nudity do not suffer any psychological harm. While he agreed that people who see nudity unexpectedly might experience shock, embarrassment and even be offended, he indicated that there was no evidence that those people would suffer any permanent psychological harm. He added that nudity is generally well accepted in society as evidenced by media, nude beaches, and the gay pride parade. While different people’s reaction to nudity would vary greatly given that Canada is a multi-cultural society, Dr. Langevin was adamant that nobody would suffer any psychological harm… Dr. Langevin put special emphasis on a 1995 study by Dr. Paul Okami at the University of California, Los Angeles. The study concluded that children who are exposed to nudity do not suffer any harm.’
    Contact: Karen Grant, President, Federation of Canadian Naturists

    • Thank you Philip, I have forwarded your post to Duncan (He doesn’t ordinarily see these) for his consideration.

  • The Open University at Milton Keynes might be interested. Their undergraduates – I was a student there in the 1990s – are generally more mature than at traditional Universities. They and their tutors are likely to be relatively open minded as befits the name of the University. I don’t know how much funding they would ask.

    • Thank you for your suggestion. I’ll pass it on to Duncan for his consideration.

  • My two cents as they say.

    Personally I have never understood the people who state they are ‘protecting the kids’ or that kids should’t see naked adults.

    From birth children are happy to be naked, and it is only during puberty that they get self concious and want to cover themselves up, but don’t appear to have any problems with seeing other naked children and from my experience they also don’t have any problem with seeing naked adults either.

    I am the step father to four children two boys and two girls, when they first saw me naked in the house the normal question was why? and their mother answered because he likes it, there have never been any further questions about my nudity and they are quite happy to be around me, sitting next to me on the settee and hugging me and kissing me good bye when they are going out.

    It seems to me the issue is adults aversion to answering the simple question of why? than than any damage or problems for the children.

    • There seems to be a lot in what you say, unfortunately it will not hold water in court, which is the aim of this project.

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