We are not immune.
Despite our expectations, it can happen to us.
One thing that intrigues me is when something terrible happens, how many people claim that they never thought it would happen to them or in their community. They surprisingly claim that it's the sort of thing you read about happening in other places, to other people.
I wonder why people always think that their own community or their own lives should be immune from disaster or misadventure.
And so it is with the naturist community.
Naturists are quick to pride themselves as being shining examples of wholesome family values and quick to point out that naturism is not sexual. We exclaim that the lifestyle is family-friendly and that children are safer at a nudist club than they might be in other social groups.
Naturists do not sit on a higher moral ground.
I saw with some horror a recent article about a 69-year-old man who has been charged with criminal sexual assault on a 14-year-old girl at a naturist club in Minnesota.
There is no excuse for this behaviour. No excuse at a naturist club, no excuse at a school, and no excuse at a church. The venue doesn’t matter.
The article goes on to indicate that the offender was known to the victim and had been considered a family friend. It is a sad fact that most offending against children is carried out by people known to the child and their family. Stranger danger is something that we teach our children but maybe we should also consider making kids aware of the signs of danger from people closer to them.
Perhaps we are too quick to assume that that sort of thing doesn’t happen to us, or in our community.
There are no circumstances where a sexual relationship between these two people would be considered ok. Ever. And yet it happens, and it happens far more frequently than it should, through all walks of life and in all communities.
I would go as far as to say that there are no circumstances for a 69-year-old man to be texting a 14-year-old girl intimate messages.
There are very few circumstances where an older man should be texting a young girl at all.
The only time I would even consider texting my granddaughters would be to wish them a Happy Birthday, a Merry Christmas, or to congratulate them on some sporting or academic achievement. I can't think of any reason I would text or communicate with a young girl who wasn’t directly related to me.
The accused offender has abused the trust of the girl, her family, the club where the offending happened, and indeed the wider naturist community. No amount of prison time or financial penalty will be able to restore the lives of those involved, and the long-term effects of the offending may never be fully overcome.
If the accused man is convicted, and I don’t see any reason why he won’t be, I don't think prison will help him. I accept that there must be some consequence for the things that have been done and the pain that has been caused. Incarceration and financial penalties are the tools that we have to give accountability and administer justice, although for some crimes they seem too harsh, and for others, they seem inadequate.
The damage done to the reputation of the naturist community undoes a lot of the good work that naturist campaigners have done and creates public perceptions that they have fought tirelessly to overcome.
Statistically speaking, I would suggest that naturist clubs are safer environments for children, but we must not be blasé about the matter. We must not let our guard down when it comes to the role of adults in protecting those young and vulnerable people in our care.
We all know the kind of behaviour that is inappropriate. The fact that it happened at a nudist club is irrelevant. It could have just as easily happened in any community group.
There are no words I can say to alleviate the pain, the hurt, the shame or the mistrust that has been put upon the young Minnesota girl through no fault of her own.
Her community has failed her. She is the innocent victim who will carry the burden of what has happened to her, possibly for the rest of her life.
It is sometimes said that it takes a village to raise a child, and it is incumbent on all of us to ensure that our children are safe. We must create an environment where our children know what behaviour is inappropriate, and where they feel that it is ok and safe to call it out and tell another adult.
We must all be vigilant to make sure that we don’t fail the children in our own communities.
It is no good being surprised when it happens, or exclaiming that we never thought this kind of thing would happen here.
The job of everyone in our community is to make sure it doesn’t happen at all.
Thank you for reading. Have a comfortable day.
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