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Children & Naturism


Whenever non-naturists discuss the naturist lifestyle, one question that inevitably comes up is “What about the children?” Many people might be surprised to learn that children are included in many naturist events and that they regularly accompany their parents to their favorite naturist clubs and resorts. Those who are not familiar with naturism might also be surprised to find out about parents who conscientiously raise their children in the naturist lifestyle within their own homes.

Although the idea of family nudity is an accepted part of everyday life among many naturists, it can be a contentious issue for others. For example, private swims at community pools organized by naturist groups have been cancelled due to public outcry, often amid accusations of child abuse.  Over the years, other family-friendly events organized at rented spaces by naturist groups have been cancelled as well, often with no clear reason given by a host agency. Naturist parents might even feel reluctant to discuss their way of life to friends and relatives out of fear of becoming the subject of investigation by their local child protective services agency.


Many non-naturists, including social workers and law enforcement officials, have at times viewed parents who choose to raise their children in the naturist lifestyle with suspicion. Yet what most of these individuals fail to recognize is that naturist parents are as devoted to their children as any parents and just as concerned for their well-being. Furthermore, many of these widely-held assumptions regarding children and nudity are not based on informed legal interpretation or proven scientific facts.

However, studies conducted over a period of decades confirm that children raised in a naturist environment are not harmed from their experiences. In fact, there have been a number of social and psychological studies that suggest the exact opposite, citing a number of benefits.  The following are some notable examples.

  • One of the first documented studies involving children and naturism was conducted by psychologist Lawrence Casler in 1964. A professor at City College of New York, he conducted a series of interviews with adults and children over a period of six weeks. In his study, Casler reported “the impression was inescapable that these children, taken as a group, were extraordinarily well-adjusted, happy, and thoughtful."
  • One comparative study between naturist and non-naturist children was authored by social researcher Marilyn Story in 1979. Her study involved an examination of 264 children and their parents to gauge their level of body self-concept, while tracking whether or not they were naturists, along with other factors. She found that children in naturist households had higher levels of body self-concept than those who were not. Secondly, the ratings were even higher for those children whose families had social ties outside the home with naturist clubs.
  • The book “The Naked Child: Growing Up Without Shame” was first published in 1982. Written by Dennis Craig Smith and William Sparks, it examined the issue of children and nudity through information that was compiled from questionnaires and interviews with naturist families from across the world. It proved to be especially ground-breaking in defense of family naturism. It reported that for children, "the viewing of the unclothed body, far from being destructive to the psyche, seems to be either benign and totally harmless or to actually provide positive benefits to the individuals involved."
  • In 1998, Dr. Paul Okami of UCLA and a team of associates published a study that examined the long term effects of parental nudity on children. This was an 18 year longitudinal study that followed 200 children from birth to the ages of 17 or 18. It reported no “deleterious main effects of early childhood exposure” and addressed the alarmist views opposing family naturism by stating “Such notions, certainly where exposure to parental nudity is concerned, are perhaps better conceptualized as myths.”


These compelling studies confirm what naturists have known for years. For them, the sights and sounds of children playing at family homes and local naturist clubs are both familiar and welcome. These children and their parents are especially important to the Federation of Canadian Naturists and we advocate on their behalf through our outreach and education, as well as legal advocacy. We carry out this work in many ways, including distributing educational information, taking part in media interviews and supporting court cases in defense of naturism. We also participate in provincial and federal-level government hearings. Through these and other efforts, the Federation of Canadian Naturists is committed to uphold the rights of naturist families and ensure that the sights and sounds of children playing will continue to be a part of our naturist heritage.



REFERENCES

Casler, Lawrence. "Some Sociopsychological Observations in a Nudist Camp: A Preliminary Study." Journal of Social Psychology 64 (1964): 307-323.

Okami, Paul, Richard Olmstead, Paul R. Abramson, and Laura Pendleton. "Early Childhood Exposure to Parental Nudity and Scenes of Parental Sexuality: An 18-Year Longitudinal Study of Outcome." Archives of Sexual Behavior 27.4 (1998): 361-384.

Smith, Dennis Craig and William Sparks. The Naked Child: Growing Up Without Shame.

Los Angeles: Elysium Growth, 1986.

Story, Marilyn D. "Factors Associated with More Positive Body Self-Concepts in Preschool Children." Journal of Social Psychology 108.1 (1979): 49-56.

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