A few days ago, whilst on my nightly rambling around the internet, I came across a very interesting and thought-provoking post written by Mammasaurus titled ‘Posting Photos of Your Child Online – is There an Unnecessary Paedophile Paranoia?’ The post has stayed with me for the past few days and I have found my mind wandering back to it regularly. Now before I launch into my own personal thoughts on this I would like to point out that Mammasaurus is up right up there amongst my favourite bloggers to follow and her husband Papasaurus is actually one of my oldest dearest friends, but on this topic we seem to have quite different opinions.
Mammasaurus, as the title suggests, questions whether we have become paranoid unnecessarily about paedophiles viewing photographs of our children online, and asserts;
I have posted photographs of my children on my blog and seen no reason not to do so personally. If I want to pop up a fun picture one Sunday of my kiddies splashing in the bath then that’s what I’ll do. But at the same time I appreciate that not everyone would be comfortable with this. And some it seems would be very much against this if reading various mainstream parenting forums are anything to go by.
I could start by spouting all the usual protestations of not judging other parents decisions, which in general I certainly do adhere to. But in this case I can’t and won’t. I would be being dishonest if I told you that in the cases when I have come across photo’s posted in friends online albums of their beautiful innocent children running around the garden or splashing in the bath with their genitals exposed for the world to see, that I haven’t shaken my head in horror and wondered “What the hell are you thinking?”
In that moment I do not judge your parenting, or your love for your child. I do not think that I am a better parent than you. But I do question your judgement. I do wonder whether you have made the right decision for your child. I do wonder whether your child also has a right to privacy.
I am sorry if you think that makes me sound arrogant or up-myself. But I am being honest. My initial instinctive response is that this is inappropriate and unnecessarily cavalier. I can’t help the way I feel and I do not apologise for it.
Of course I have cute and cheeky shots of the Woo, Foghorn and Bubble playing in the bath, or sitting on the toilet, etc. What parent doesn’t? But I have kept them for the children’s own individual albums, for them to laugh, enjoy and blush over in years to come, and to share with whom they wish.
I try to instil in my children a healthy self-esteem and I feel a huge part of this is to help them to feel confident and happy about their own bodies. We are not prudish. My husband and I are comfortable to allow our children to see us naked, and in the privacy of our own back yard we love nothing more than watching them run and giggle bare-bummed after one another. We do not cover up (as yet) as we do not want them to feel that their bodies are something to feel embarrassed or ashamed of.
However, I also think it is vitally important to teach them about privacy and when and who it is appropriate to show their bodies to. Since my children are still very young, Woo (5 this month, Foghorn (3), and Bubble (22months) I have enlisted the help of a fantastic book ‘Everyone’s Got a Bottom’ to address the issues of private body parts, gender, sexuality, feelings, and relationships with my children in an age appropriate way.
’Everyone’s Got a Bottom,’ written by Tess Rowley and illustrated by Jodi Edwards, was the winner of the 2007 Child Protection Week award for an Education Initiative. For anyone who is interested can be purchased online here or ordered through Family Planning Queensland here. (This is not a sponsored post I just think it is a FANTASTIC resource for parents, carers and teachers).
The book introduces a number of very important concepts in a simple, straightforward way that is easy for children to understand and does not overload them with unnecessary details. The catchy mantra repeated throughout the book ‘From my head to my toes, I say what goes,’ (which my children eagerly join in with) really encapsulates the central premise of this book produced by Family Planning Queensland.
Children learn that:
- We are responsible for talking care of our own bodies.
- It is okay to be naked at home but not when we go out in public.
- Girls and boys bodies are different.
- We have a right to say what happens to our own body. For example if I do not want to kiss someone I have the right to say no.
- Nobody can touch our bodies without good reason.
- It is rude and not okay for someone older or bigger than me to see my private parts or show me theirs, even if it is someone I know or like.
- If someone tries to do something rude to me, I can talk to a grown-up I trust.
- We do not keep secrets about our bodies or private parts, even if someone bigger or older tells us that we should.
I believe that is important to have these kinds of discussions with my children from an early age, to normalise them and hopefully dispel some of the embarrassment and discomfort that can come of trying to broach the subject out of the blue in later years. I want them to be able to ask me questions or tell me about any concerns they have about their bodies.
I want them to be happy and comfortable and proud of their body and have the confidence and self-respect to know what is right for them. I want to equip them with knowledge that may help keep them stay safe from sexual predators or enable them to make the right decision regarding intercourse with a partner in later years. I want them to know that they have a right to privacy and ‘From their head to their toes, they say what goes.’
I encourage my friends and family to share in the joy and beauty of my children and I share images of them on Facebook and on my blog. But I always ensure that they are appropriately clothed and have to say that regardless of what things were like ‘back in the day,’ when we were kids, etc, it is time to get with the program, and stop sharing images online of your child’s genitals!
That is my very passionate feeling on the matter. I am sure there are many of you who will agree or disagree with equal passion and I respect the opinions of every parent to bring up their child as they see fit, in the interest of the child. So, please feel free to share your thoughts on this issue.
Do you, would you share naked images of your child online?