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BN Children Deserve Better Report 2016


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About This File

British Naturism is the national organisation for Naturists in the UK, with over 9000 active members, and representing the interests of almost 4 million Naturists nationwide. We share a philosophical belief in a natural naked lifestyle, in harmony with nature, with their counterparts all over the world.

We believe that children should be brought up and kept safe in an environment of openness and body honesty. They should know about how their bodies work, what happens to them at puberty and what a normal consensual sexual relationship is, before they experience it as adults. This should be done ideally by bringing up children in a Naturist environment where body honesty is key, but otherwise through good, explicit, factually correct and non-judgemental sex and relationships education through the prime educators: parents, teachers and organisations like the BBC.

Bringing children up in such an environment, with wholesome, honest and open body attitudes leads to better sexual health outcomes for young people, fewer body image disorders, and more sensible attitudes to life. Prudery, not openness or nudity, harms children. We want children to be innocent, but not ignorant. We believe that body openness and honesty protects children from the possible harmful effects of inappropriate material. They should find out about sex and how their bodies work from good education and openness instead of glamour and pornography. Children are naturally curious and if their curiosity is not answered openly then they will seek answers anywhere they can. Blocking will not prevent them as they can usually circumvent it with a facility that adults may not believe possible. There is objective evidence that those beliefs are well founded, unlike some other beliefs.

British Naturism’s Children Deserve Better, 2016 report sets out our views using evidence from sound academic sources rather than prejudice or sound bites – as such it makes essential reading for anyone concerned with the welfare of children and/or internet censorship. It addresses the issues and analyses the reasons why it has proved so difficult for the UK to adopt the policies that are known to work. The report is both critical of the failures of the past to follow best practice and optimistic for the future. It explains how, with very little expenditure or effort, the well-being of children could be greatly improved. It is just necessary to follow the evidence instead of myth. We are confident that significant advances could be made quite quickly but there is considerable social inertia to overcome - it would be a generational project. We must address the body-attitudes which result in the UK being amongst the poorest performers in the western world. It can be done and the time to start is now.

It is long overdue that “Think of the children” really did mean “think” instead of it being a slogan to stifle debate and hinder progress. It is long overdue that policy was firmly evidence based; rigorous, objective evidence instead of myth and misconceptions. It is long overdue that “Putting children first” really did mean that the welfare of children took precedence over adult myths, dislikes, and embarrassment.

Malcolm Boura, British Naturism’s Campaigns Director said:


Wholesome body attitudes are so important and it’s time that ‘Think of the children’ once again meant just that. A paradigm shift is needed. It is long overdue that we stopped paying lip service to “children come first” and “evidence based policy making” and actually did it. Right across the spectrum, decisions are being made based on prejudice and myth, ignoring evidence and common sense. Worse, in some cases conclusions are reached with no evidence at all! Prudery is a form of child abuse, just less directly and less obviously so than many other kinds. We want politicians, children’s groups and charities, among others to think much more carefully about what works. It will take a generation or more to correct the harm so the time to start is now.


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I have taken the liberty of sending the following email to my MP


Dear Mr Glen

As soon as the cry “Think of the Children” goes up, thinking goes out the window and prejudice and myth takes the place of evidence  and careful thought.

I have been concerned for over 30 years at the way we are “over-protecting” our children. As a teacher at Bishop Wordsworth School for 25 years I introduced 100s of pupils to outdoor activities, in particular orienteering, mountain walking and rock-climbing. I have now started orienteering again having recovered from the injuries which forced me to give up 25 years ago and I am appalled at the age balance in the sport. In the SW Championships last weekend there were more competitors in my age-group, 65-70 year-old, than in all the junior age-groups combined. In fact I introduced more boys (many of whom are still competing today) to orienteering, 30-40 years ago than were competing at this event.

A couple of comments on the BN forum illustrate the problem: From a former teacher “When I was teaching in the 80s and 90s, there was a series of incidents on school-organized events as the result of which the organizing teachers were “hung out to dry”; consequently, my union advised members not to organize any events or take pupils off school premises since it represented too high a personal risk.” NB: It was the risk to the teacher, not the children which was paramount in the union advice.

And from a former headmistress “I understood as a Head when the NAS/UWT told their members not to get involved in high risk sports activities; we got around it in the schools I ran by using accredited Local Authority Adventure Centres where the staff are all highly qualified as coaches, and the Centre not the enthusiastic teacher who goes along basically to supervise the pupils overnight in their dormitories, is hung out to dry if there should be an accident. Of course the concept of a genuine accident (and they occasionally happen however qualified, experienced and cautious the adults are) no longer exists in some minds. "Where there is blame there's a claim"! I am a Mountain Leader and as a young teacher used to take pupils all over the mountains, wild camping, etc, but I don't think I'd risk it now. And the losers are, of course, the kids. Generation Snowflake, damaged by prudery, wrapped in cotton wool, all risk negated. What adults they will grow into!”

Children need to be exposed to (controlled) risk and to new experiences and we are damaging a generation of children by over-protection. Our children are not given the opportunity to experience risk and learn how to cope with risk, so when they reach young adulthood they have not learnt the necessary skills to cope with the problems of adulthood

Much time is spent by event organisers on “Health and Safety” but almost all of it is designed to protect the organiser, not to protect the children.

A closely related topic is the prudification of our society.

British Naturism have just produced a report entitled “Children Deserve Better - Campaigning for Wholesome Body-attitudes” which I have attached to this email. This report concentrates on the way Government Policy and the policy of other major institutions such as the BBC and Facebook is enforcing prudery on our society, ignoring the substantial evidence of the harm that this is doing to our children. I quote the conclusion to the 36-page report:

“The prudification of society is a serious and growing problem. It denies children essential knowledge and skills which leads to greater sexualisation, objectification, and violence. Good intentions are not an excuse, especially for people in positions of influence and responsibility. They have a duty to look at the evidence objectively, apply logic and rigour, and then act on it. Prudery is no better than encouraging children to smoke, just less obvious in the harm caused. The attitudes associated with poor outcomes (e.g. USA teenage pregnancy rate nearly 50% greater than UK) are being encouraged at the expense of the attitudes associated with the best outcomes (e.g. Denmark and several other European countries, a quarter of the UK teenage pregnancy rate). NB it is not just teenage pregnancy that shows such differences in outcomes, the pattern is similar across all related indicators. Decades of failure to follow best practice has resulted in the UK consistently being one of the worst performing countries, not just amongst western nations but amongst all nations. Prudery is a form of child abuse, just less directly and less obviously so than many other kinds. There is little doubt about the processes that have resulted in the promotion of so much harm. The psychological mechanisms that make it so difficult to modify opinion in response to evidence are well understood and apply to everyone. There is serious cognitive dissonance between what the evidence shows and perception. A paradigm shift is needed. It is long overdue that we stopped paying lip service to “children come first” and “evidence based policy making” and actually did it. We need to start doing what works. It will take a generation or more to correct the harm so the time to start is now.”

It is clear from my extensive personal experience in the Scandinavian countries and in the French and Spanish Pyrenees that these countries have a much more balanced attitude to risk and to body-knowledge to the benefit of their children and young adults.

Brian Johnson


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