Children and Nudity
A project to create an academic study of the effects of adult nudity on the development of children.
A project to create an academic study of the effects of adult nudity on the development of children.
Not entirely sure how it came out on Yahoo! Movies but Good Morning Britain’s Lottie Day and comedian Kate Smurthwaite discussed on Friday, if children should attend BN’s Sandcastle Waterpark event.
Afterwards, there was a debate on twitter with views expressed for and against. A voxpop question in the article, asked: how healthy is Britain’s relationship with nudity? And 60% said it was unhealthy.
Isn’t it time we put this to bed, once and for all?
Today, we are publishing our Annual Report for 2018 covering the period 1stMarch 2017 to 28thFebruary 2018.
Financially, NAG ended the fiscal year with a small deficit, largely as a consequence of spending more than £1,000 on campaigning. The bank balance itself is still good; even so, your donations would be more than welcome and gratefully received.
For the last eight years, Naturist Action Group has operated as a national strategic advocacy group for UK naturism. The Management Collective feel that it’s time to re-energise the group and realise that we are not the only source for good ideas. If after reading our Annual Report, ideas come flooding into your head, don’t keep them to yourself, tell us. No idea is off limits or to be thought of as ‘silly’. You can use the comments below, or if pen and paper is your thing, send it to our postal address given at the back of the report, marking the envelope for the Chairman’s attention, or send it by email to reg.barlow AT naturistactiongroup DOT org.
10 May 2018
We have the pleasure of publishing our Annual Report for 2017. As always, we would welcome your comments about anything we are doing, or not doing or how we can do things better. If you prefer to either email me direct or any of my colleagues then you do so through the contacts page. Alternative, if your prefer to put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, please send your missive to our registered address marked for the attention of the person you wish to address your question or questions, with a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
NAG and BN are working with
Some of you may recall that a while back NAG jointly with BN started a project to address the problem of the assumption within some people’s minds that children would in some way be harmed by the sight of innocent adult nudity – “What about the Children?!”. This seems to be a pervasive and powerful myth which goes unquestioned and underlays many of the attitudes and actions of officialdom, as well as becoming a part of the ‘accepted wisdom’ of public opinion by the subtle process of social ostracism of anyone who dares to question it. The fact is that this assumption has no evidence to back it up; and what evidence there is (of the effect of non-sexual, non-aggressive nudity on children) points in the direction of psychological and social benefits to their development, rather than harm.
We felt this whole question needed addressing in an objective, evidence based way, and that a proper academic study might be a good start. So discussions have been taking place for some time with a few interested academics to see how this could best be approached, funded, presented and so on. This has taken a long time as finding the right people who are prepared to put their precious time in to it for no money is not easy. Good people are usually busy people. As a result, there has been little to report until now, and it may be that silence leads people to think nothing is happening. This is not true, but in the nature of such discussions, it can be damaging and unethical to pass on details of things which are unformed work-in-progress. However, in order to reassure you that things are going on in the background, we can say that at a recent meeting with some authoritative professional academics a plan of action has emerged which we hope will move this project forward later this year, and in to the public domain. It would be wrong at present to give any more detail, but those involved are encouraged and optimistic by developments, so watch this space and be a little patient.
With most issues the first step in addressing them is to stimulate discussion, but this has to be done in the right way. This is especially so with anything to do with children in today’s social climate, so the public relations aspect of this whole project will be an important aspect. Our hope is that it will lead the opinion formers to start to look more objectively at their own attitudes. This important not only to naturists, and for the acceptance of naturism, but it underlays many aspects of life, including the formulation of laws, media regulation, child protection, education, and other areas of public policy. It is a big agenda, but you have to start somewhere
Queensland, Australia is well known for its lack of official naturist (nudist, clothes optional) beaches. Although to be fair, with weather so conducive to a clothes free lifestyle, it is not a surprise to learn that plenty of Queenslanders use the unofficial beaches in the State.
Not all that long ago these included an island in The Great Barrier Reef, Fitzroy Island, a 45-minute boat trip east of Cairns – according to The Ballarat Courier (13/04/2015) – with National Park status. A secluded, boulder-framed beach, a little over 1km from the modern resort was the haunt for many naturists, although apparently they did not give the beach its name: Nudey.
Since 2010, the island resort has been owned and was renovated by property developer, Doug Gamble, who said when he announced that Nudey beach would no longer be a naturist venue: ‘this is a resort for couples and young kids. I’m not very open to nudists taking over a family-friendly beach.’
Excuse me! Where is the evidence that naturists’ make a beach family-unfriendly? In fact, what did Doug Gamble – and anyone else for that matter – mean by ‘family-friendly’? It seems to be one of those statements that is often used and everyone assumes what is meant by it, just like the statement ‘Think about the children?’ that Duncan Heenan wrote about not so long ago.
I used to live in the seaside town of Cliftonville, between Margate and Broadstairs in Kent, once the playground for much of south and east London and while its heyday has long gone, on a sunny day its beaches would still be packed with adults – young and old – basking in the sunshine while children dug holes and built castles in the sand. Some of the women on the beach, but very few mind, would be top free while some children would be naked, oblivious that in a few short years that would be considered a taboo.
No one seemed to care that the children had no clothes on and their parents’ didn’t appear to be all that bothered that they could be seen by strangers. Nor did the top free women cause a great deal of commotion on the beach. A few stares, yes, but that was only because it was such a rarity on a British beach. And still is. Most people were open about looking but would carry on walking, even if they did slow down just a little.
Is this what is meant by ‘family-friendly’? Would adult nudity cause more of a stir than a top free woman I wonder?
What I think people who use the term ‘family-friendly’ really mean by it is somewhere where sex is not publicly performed? I say ‘think’ because I don’t know and, nor I suspect, does anyone else. They are making the automatic assumption that naked equals sex, and of course, naturists are naked all the time (not true of course), so we must be ‘doing it’ all the time. I would love to engage a sex therapist one day, to carry out a survey to see if naturists do have sex more often than a non-naturist. It would really put the cat among the pigeons if it turned out that naturists are no more sexual than anyone else; my laughter would be even louder if we are less so.
NAG has issued a statement condemning public sex, not because it is illegal, which it isn’t, but because of the anti-social behaviour that it truly is. It is also extremely damaging to the idea that naturism is non-sexual, social nudity.
It’s our own fault, of course. I don’t mean just NAG’s but everybody’s. Ever since the concept of social, non-sexual nudity was first thought of, people have been suspicious of our motives. What naturism hasn’t done in the last century or more is persuade people that sex and nudity need not be inextricably linked, which in our modern age, allowed pornographers and writers of bad or lazy erotic fiction to use naturism as a euphemism for sex, and confirmed the public’s suspicion.
There have been attempts to get our message across of course, but these have often been brief and/or half-hearted affairs. Some years ago, BBC2 ran an open space slot for community groups to have their say. This included British Naturism and what I can remember of the programme all these years later, is that it was good but there was no follow up. I am not condemning British Naturism for this, because at the time the whole naturist community in this country seemed to do a collective sigh of relief. As if to say: ‘right, well that’s done now so we don’t have to worry about it,’ and pulled our heads below the parapet again.
Being British means we hate causing a fuss or creating a commotion, but if naturism is to gain the acceptance in our society that we think it deserves then we must get our message across to the non-naturist public. We must take control of the conversation and make a fuss and a commotion while doing it. And not make it a one-off effort. We have to explain that naturism is all about the family and in particular the children, so they will grow up healthier and more rounded as individuals than the previous generation. I know that some believe that by doing so, NAG is putting at risk the few gains we have had over the years, but if we don’t then the myth that naturism is family unfriendly will persist and those gains will be slowly eroded until we have nothing. Surely, we might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb.
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: Duncan.Heenan@naturistactiongroup.org;
or by Personal Message via the BN website.