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Children Deserve Better 2016 A British Naturism report Campaigning for wholesome body-attitudes – Malcolm Boura

June 14, 2016

BN 2Christianity has an odd relationship with nudity, probably because Adam and Eve leave the Garden of Eden naked. But, surely, the original innocence was when they were naked and originals sin has been redeemed, nakedness should be OK. But our culture believes otherwise.

Despite the pioneering work of Canon Chad varah after conducting the funeral of a girl who committed suicide owing to ignorance of her bodily functionsd, it is  still the case, today that: It is a scandal that some girls commence menstruation without even knowing what it is.

Christians should have a stake in PSHE and this report, arguably written from an ‘extreme’ position, is worth debating.

The report says that children should be taught that nudity is normal, as a way of reducing unhealthy and oversexualised attitudes to naked bodies.

A “very British” prudishness about not wearing any clothes means children get their mainstream ideas about bodies from glamour adverts, Hollywood and pornography in a way that makes them sexualise nakedness, according to nudist organisation British Naturism.

It calls on politicians, parents, teachers and the BBC to represent nudity as normal rather than sexualised and exceptional.

“Children should know about how their bodies work […]. This should be done ideally by bringing up children in a naturist environment where body honesty is key,” said the report.

“But otherwise through good, explicit, factually correct and non-judgmental sex and relationships education.”

Andrew Welch, a spokesman for the organisation, said the UK needed “more non-sexual nudity, not less….The protection of our children has to be paramount, but the line is being drawn in the wrong place. ….By suppressing something and keeping it hidden it means that nobody learns the truth. Teenagers grow up thinking that a normal body is the one in the adverts or young men see pornography and take it from that. …No one knows what’s normal anymore.”

Anna Feuchtwang, chief executive of the National Children’s Bureau, said: “Young people tell us time and again they want better teaching on the essential topics covered within PSHE: sex and relationships, physical and mental health, financial and political education, and bullying.

“Yet despite this, PSHE is still woefully inadequate, with Ofsted finding that teaching feel short in 40 per cent of schools.”

The author is a retired teacher having taught in secondary schools for 25 years including head of department. He is currently working part time in engineering. He has held leadership roles in a number of youth organisations and he continues to do voluntary work for them.

There’s a lot of preliminary rehearsal of the fallacies behind many different arguments and styles of debating – perhaps too much.

It’s also a bit repetitive in places.

It says that naturism improves people’s body image – I can’t help thinking that  when you look at some of the ageing bodies in Health and Efficneicy (is that magazine still going?) you feel better about yourself as you’re not so fat and saggy – yet.

BNQuotations:

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.

The countries with a more open approach to the body have vastly better outcomes than the UK across a wide range of indicators. Conversely countries with a more prudish approach have worse outcomes. It is perverse that so much policy is actively encouraging the attitudes associated with the worst outcomes in the western world

Driving in the dark without headlights or at 70mph in thick fog are quite rightly criminal offences. Making policy for children without the illumination provided by adequate evidence and without clearing away the fog of flawed and erroneous information is equally dangerous and every bit as reprehensible. Just as dark can be cured with light, lack of evidence can be remedied by research. Just as the dangers of fog can be reduced by letting it clear, so can the dangers of flawed evidence be reduced by clearing it away. Fog is beyond our control but errors are not.

What is meant by indecent, immoral, pornographic? The definition of Denmark or that of Saudi Arabia?

What is meant by unwanted touching? Groping or using the rush hour tube?

What does objectifying women mean? Is David Beckham objectified by the display of his physical attributes in adverts?

Until the mid 1990s mothers were given the “common sense” advice to lay babies on their front to prevent choking if they vomited and to keep them well wrapped up to ensure that they did not get cold. When the advice was reversed the SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) rate fell dramatically. That affair also demonstrates that once a false dogma has become established then putting it right can be extremely difficult. The delay before the Ministry of Health was forced to change the advice cost the lives of several babies a day.

My daughter has one of the most open and sensible attitudes to sex I have ever come across. She is 20 and just embarking on her first proper adult relationship. She never had any material censored by us. Under the age of about 12 she just wasn’t interested and between 13 and 18 no doubt satisfied her natural curiosity but didn’t dwell on it. She has always talked to both of us openly and sensibly about sex and the body. Unlike most of the under age pregnant girls that I had to deal with in my 20 years as a Head and Deputy Head Teacher!

A headteacher told us that the Government schools capital scheme Building Schools for the Future required that cubicles were always specified because “children won’t shower communally and it isn’t a good idea.” ( BSFProject manager) When challenged on the policy the official almost gave the “Why you pervert” response!

A good example of the effect of allowing appeals to emotion to take precedence over what works was the film “Growing Up”. Made in the 70s, it was an explicit, factual sex education film aimed at pre-pubescent children, probably 10-12 year olds. It carefully explains how the normal human body functions work, what happens at puberty, deals with early sexuality including the “normal” nature of masturbation, and concluded with showing a first adult consensual sexual relationship. By present standards it is outdated but at the time it was an enormous step forward.

The Thatcher Government intended it to be shown in all schools but Mary Whitehouse and others protested so violently that the film was abandoned. It is just the sort of thing that German, Dutch or Scandinavian schools were using in sex education programmes. In the UK sex education stalled whilst in the rest of Europe progress was substantial. For example in The Netherlands the Dutch reduced their teenage pregnancy rate by a factor of four in a generation.

Effective sex education is self reinforcing across the generations. Parents who had good sex education are much more able to instil responsible attitudes in their children than parents who are uncertain about what does and does not work, fearful of what a child may say to a teacher, fearful of what a teacher may report, fearful of what a social worker might have to say, and too embarrassed to discuss body-matters with their children.

Denied the chance by Mrs Whitehouse to show the film “Growing Up” to 11 year old pupils entering secondary schools, at least one French religious order supplied an alternative film from Europe, dubbed into English. It covered the same range and content as “Growing Up” but additionally showed the birth of a couple’s first baby in graphic detail. So some Catholic pupils, if they were lucky enough to attend the right convent school, got a very much better sex education lesson than their secular counterparts across the UK who fell prey to the prejudice of Mrs Whitehouse!

In the early 2000s parents attended a meeting with the Headteacher and some of the Governors in a Catholic Primary school to work through a new SRE (Sex and Relationships Education) policy. Up for discussion were what parents wanted their children to be taught and at what age. The Headteacher was a bit nervous because she feared that some parents were going to use “keep the children innocent” or “think of the children” to limit what would be taught. Not so. Parents were unanimous about the need for open and explicit sex education, as long as the relationship aspect was taught alongside. They wanted their children,before puberty and preferably before the age of 10, to know about girls’ and boys’ bodies and how they work; what happens to both at puberty, dealing with sexual feelings, what happens in an adult consensual relationship and what happens at the birth of a baby.

Prudery is a form of child abuse, just less directly and less obviously so than many other kinds.

The report is online here

The report is not copyright but asks for a link to British Naturism’s website

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