|Sexuality is a natural,
God-given desire. However, when someone violates another
person's sexual boundaries, it wounds that person to the
core. For that reason, I believe that sexual abuse
is the most damaging and shaming of all abuses.
Yet it is so horribly common in our
- Cynthia Spell Humbert
article is from the book Children and Nakedness by Paul M.
Bowman, Copyright © 2000, and is used here with
permission. Although there are many and varied causes of
pedophilia, this article attempts to explain how denying
non-erotic nakedness contributes to sexual abuse, which is so
horribly common in our culture. The article suggests a
deceptively simple way to reduce both the origin of pedophilia
and how to protect children from the real damage of sexual
abuse, which is keeping it secret (or, parent's and society's
over-reaction to reported abuse).
Those who oppose
nudity because they believe it harms children are absolutely
right to be concerned about children, but over and over again
reality shows that it is body shame that harms children (and
adults). Rather than being harmful, non-sexual nudity
can be absolutely essential in helping protect children from
abuse. Unfortunately it is a very controversial subject
and very little research has been done on
preconceptions are very strong, even in the scientific
community. Some people feel the following article is
excellent, others feel that it cannot stand up to rigorous
critique, this points to two problems 1. that views of
psychology are often conflicting and 2. that more research is
desperately needed on this very important
We must do
everything we can to find the best way to protect children
from sexual abuse EVEN IF it means controversy by challenging
strongly held preconceptions in researching the effects that
non-sexual nudity has on children. Research is badly
needed on this topic that can stand up the the most rigorous
I urge any one in
the research community who cares about children to pursue this
much needed research. Paul will help facilitate in order to
get some quality studies produced his contact information is
at the end of this article.
PEDOPHILIA AND CHILD
One can barely pick up a major newspaper in America without
finding a report or feature story on child molestation.
Experts claim that adults or adolescents molest at least one
out of four girls during their childhood. Boys are
frequently molested as well. With a problem so
widespread, one would think finding a solution would be a top
priority for society. Yet, the orthodox wisdom is that
child molesters cannot recover from their perversion and
victims only survive, never recover. The common belief
is that molesters destroy their victim's lives.
Society cannot completely solve a problem unless people
understand how the problem arose in the first place.
Western attitudes toward nakedness undoubtedly cause a major
part of the compulsion to molest. Furthermore, it
influences even the compliance with molestation.
One must keep in mind that social attitudes toward
nakedness are not the only influences producing any particular
sexual perversion. There are often many other factors
involved that cause sex deviations and some may be completely
unrelated to nakedness. However, the factor of nakedness
assuredly has a huge influence on the development of sexual
abuses such as child molestation.
Anyone who has read this book this far knows children need
to know about the physical differences between the
sexes. Children need enough natural exploration to
satisfy completely the mystery of the body differences.
Sex differences must become so familiar they evoke no more
conscious attention than a person's nose or fingers. The
only way children can do that is to see people who are naked.
If children do not have the necessary exposure to
nakedness, they will not resolve juvenile sexual issues.
With those issues unsettled, insecurities about sex
differences develop and remain hidden in his
personality. As long as they are children, there is not
much problem. By the ages of puberty, however, those
unsettled insecurities force themselves to the surface in a
child's life. Then, they must deal with them.
Dealing with issues they should have resolved as children
causes many problems for some young teenagers. It is
almost certain that, denied natural means, they will take
advantage of deviant ways to answer his questions. The
unnatural methods employed probably causes them to deviate
from normal sexuality into child sexual abuse.
of Abstract Thinking
About the age of twelve or thirteen, a new ability develops
in the normal child. Children attain the ability to
think in the abstract. This means they can imagine
situations they have not actually experienced. Until
they are young teens, children can conceive only what they can
perceive with their five senses.
During adolescence, children develop the ability to imagine
in their mind images with which they have had no direct
contact. This new ability provides them with an imposing
advantage over children younger than themselves. They
can create situations. Adolescents often use this new
skill to settle those long unresolved questions about the
physical differences between the sexes.
Puberty also introduces children to new and very powerful
sex hormones. When that happens, it is certain
unresolved sexual issues will force their way to the
surface. It will completely disrupt an adolescent's
personality if adults frustrated his efforts to settle those
issues earlier. This is one reason young teens often
become contrary and delinquent.
With unsettled childhood issues, adolescents are unable to
deal with sexuality in a manner corresponding with natural
maturity. They are sexually immature compared to a
normal young teenager. Thus, they are ill-equipped to
deal sexually with age-mates of the opposite sex.
This is because they were unable to develop the foundation
of sexual cooperation. The basis of sexual concurrence
is a secure gender identity. Nobody can deal in a mature
sexual manner with the opposite sex while facing an underlying
Resolving an underlying gender insecurity is rarely
possible with an adolescent the same age. Both sexes are
equally self-conscious about their own changing
sexuality. Both boys and girls are facing new and potent
sexual emotions that make them self-conscious. Young
teens are well known for their extreme self-consciousness
about any aspect about sexuality.
Young teens are self-conscious because they are unfamiliar
with the perplexing new world of sexuality influenced by sex
hormones. When facing the unknown, the natural tendency
is to withdraw. For a gender insecure teenager, trying
to resolve unsettled sexual issues with a partner of the
opposite sex is nearly impossible. The underlying gender
insecurity, joined with their self- consciousness, makes it
hopeless to even try settling those issues with an
age-mate. Therefore, they withdraw sexually from
teenagers their own age.
The urgency of dealing with sexuality does not disappear,
however. Gender insecurity blocks adolescents from
settling sexual issues with their age-mates. The easiest
way to try to settle those unanswered questions is with a
younger child. Merely the size difference gives the
older child an aura of authority over a younger child.
Since they can think in the abstract, adolescents can
contrive ways to persuade younger children to let them explore
their body. They can devise clever situations in ways
young children cannot. Consider an eight-year-old boy
who tells an age-mate girl, "Take off your panties." She
probably will ask why he wants her to do that. "Because
I want to look at you," he might say. If she says, "No,"
he has no way to argue persuasively around her refusal.
A teenager has an enormous advantage in such a
situation. He can imagine ways to give her the
impression it is logical for her to take off her
panties. For example, while baby-sitting, a
thirteen-year-old boy may get a six-year-old girl dirty on
purpose. Then, he has a reason to tell her to take off
her clothes. If she asks why, he can say that she must
be clean before her parents return home. That is
something most little girls can relate to, so she will
willingly take a bath.
It is easy, then, to have to wash her--and to focus on her
genitals. By then, she has lost control. She has
already let him touch her in ways she would not normally have
wanted. She probably already had broken her parent's
cautions. Also, she would never realize that he had
imagined the whole plan for the specific purpose of exploring
of Sex Hormones
The particular scheme a teenager uses may be far different
from this example. The fact remains, however, that
adolescents are mentally equipped to devise a plan that
appears sensible to a much younger child. This, alone,
gives an unfair advantage over a younger child.
If that were the extent of the incident, it probably would
not be markedly damaging. Severe emotional damage
probably would not happen to either the adolescent or the
younger child. Unfortunately, body investigation by
teenagers is never a simple, childish kind of
exploration. Teenage inspection is very serious because
adolescents have the additional factor of adult sex hormones.
Sex exploration between two children is a simple
matter. They use only the five senses to answer the
questions that have arisen in their minds. Absent any
adult admonitions and alarm, they easily answer their
questions to the level they can understand. When they
answer their questions, they stop exploring because that is
all they wanted to know.
When they finish exploring, children go on to playing
cowboys or school or whatever else interests them.
Interviews with children who have grown up at nudist clubs
show they usually do not even recall ever "playing
doctor." Those incidents of sex exploration have no more
conscious impact on them than any other form of child
play. It is all very innocent.
It is very different for adolescents trying to make up for
the sex exploration they should have done as children.
Due to the presence of adult sex hormones, an adolescent has a
dramatic reaction. Then, the sight, touch, and even
smell of the young girl triggers the sex hormones. They
produce a sense of immense excitement and pleasure.
Such pleasant passion makes it impossible to forget the
incident because Nature designed sexual passion to be
supremely pleasurable. This is to be sure that people
repeat sexual intercourse often enough to continue the
species. An adolescent feels the same intense fervor
with a child partner as an adult does with an adult
partner. It is beyond human control.
Since the passion is so wonderful, the natural wish is to
repeat the experience. Sexual pleasure does not promote
sexual maturity, however. Thus, teenager molesters
involved with children do not mature sexually because of the
experience. They are no more equipped to deal sexually
with an age-mate than they were before first substituting a
young girl. Unable to relate to an age-mate, youths must
seek to reproduce the experience with another young
girl. The more adolescents repeat the experience, the
more rooted it becomes in their personality.
Several aspects of pedophilia still needs attention.
In spite of the intense sexual pleasure, he may hold the
desire in check through fear of exposure. First, the
general anti-sexuality attitudes of our culture may hold it in
check or reduce its frequency. Second, the severe social
and legal penalties toward such age differences in sexual
activity may prevent further such action. Third, the
person's superego may intervene to deter continuation of the
practice. No matter what factors intervene, however,
that person will never completely forget his first sexual
pleasure with a little girl. He may repress it, but it
will remain in his unconscious mind.
This is illustrated by the common occurrence of sexual
assaults on children by older men. After adolescents,
the most common class of child molesters are probably
grandfathers. If molestation incidents by grandfathers
become known, it usually shocks their family. The family
can't believe it. The old gentleman, they say,
never showed any such tendency before. Why would he
molest a young granddaughter?
The answer is simple. It is certain that in every
such case, the old man experienced sexual abuse when he was an
adolescent. It could be as a victim of molestation,
although it is more likely that he molested someone as a young
During adult life, he may have married and had a solid
career because his superego was strong enough to overcome his
compulsion. He could control the need to repeat
the initial sexual pleasure while he had a useful social
value. As his value in society declines, the superego's
ability to conform with social expectations also
declines. At some point it declines enough that social
decency loses its influence over him. Then, he becomes
free to repeat those youthful pleasures. The powerless
feelings of old age also may be similar to those he felt in
Letting children play naked with each other can naturally
prevent the development of the issues that produce child
molesters. [Reasonable naked activities would be playing
at the beach or with a sprinkler in the back yard.]
Consider evidence drawn from situations where the people
openly accept nakedness that held no sexual connotation.
Adults in primitive cultures consistently have no sexual
interest in children. Modern children who grow up in a
healthy nudist environment also never develop a sexual
interest in young children. Many notable examples prove
the point: Natural nakedness while growing up prevents
much emotional pain for both the molester and the one
Natural Nakedness is Secret
Natural nakedness does not merely mostly rule out the
development of a pedophile. It also acts as a natural
protection for potential victims of sexual abuse. The
reason is amazingly simple. For a child molester to
"succeed" in his activity, one critical element must be
present. Secrecy. The loss of secrecy means the
discovery of his perversion. Society's attitudes toward
sex abuse makes some punishment almost a certainty.
Therefore, the molester's primarily concern is with keeping
the deed secret.
Amazingly, the child's parents are usually the pedophile's
strongest ally in that effort! Consider the typical
American family's attitudes about their children's
nudity. Almost everyone has experienced a situation such
as these. Little Johnny or Sally jumps out of their bath
and happily runs, naked, into a living room full of
guests. Maybe, a mother discovers her preschooler
joyfully playing naked in the front yard. Immediately,
Mother rushes the child into the privacy of their room.
Full of embarrassment, she sternly lets the child know that
nakedness must be kept private. Mother is very emotional
and leaves no doubt that being naked is totally
unacceptable. Often, the child is punished--parents
almost certainly threaten punishment for another
violation. Maybe, the little child suffers a spanking
for innocently scampering naked after her bath in front of
others. All the children in that family clearly
understand that he or she let out some secret that must keep
A few years later, along comes a child molester.
Using his powers of abstract thought, he puts the young child
into a position of finding herself exposed, naked with
him. For example, he might get her dirty and then
convince her she need to take a bath. Up to that moment,
he may have thought only of the excitement of seeing or
touching her. Then he thinks of getting caught.
The molester, knowing he needs secrecy, tells her very
strongly that they must keep their activity secret. He
may use some sort of threat to reinforce his demand that she
should not tell anyone what happened.
Suddenly, she recalls the incident when her mother found
her playing naked. The first thought she remembers is
how upset her mother was. She also recalls her mother
said, "If I ever catch you naked where others can see you, I
will . . . ." Visions of punishment come to her mind, so
she readily agrees to keeping their activity secret. If
her parents spanked her, she already knows the pain she
receives when her parents discover she has been seen naked.
Result of Open Nakedness
What is the alternative? Consider children who
experience nakedness as a natural part of their life.
When they encounter a molester, the first "red flag" rises in
that child's mind is a question. Why would a grownup
have any interest in those sexual parts of her (or his)
body? They will see it as something children do with
each other. Children who have many opportunities to
satisfy their own curiosity about sexual differences will
question an adult's interest in their sexual organs.
The second "red flag" would be the signs of sexual arousal
by the older person. Young children who discover all the
answers to their questions about sex differences do it in a
matter of fact manner. There is no sexual passion.
The sight of naked parents or other adults, such as at a nude
beach, does not sexually excite children. The adults he
sees in everyday situations do not show any signs of sexual
arousal. Sex play with other children also occurs with
no adult-based sexual emotions involved.
What happens with a child molester? The molester's
excited behavior will be different from what the child is used
to seeing. As he shows an interest in a child's sexual
organs, he begins to breathe hard, maybe slightly shake.
Typically, the youth will have an erect penis, not the flaccid
penis the child would have seen. The dramatic difference
in the behavior of the molester will shock or frighten the
child. It will be fearsome to him or her.
The molester's unusual behavior usually will be strong enough
to frighten a child into trying to avoid him. The
natural reaction to fear is to try to flee or to fight.
Maybe, the molester, by using his powers of abstract
reasoning, will allay the child's fear. Maybe, he will
be able to proceed with molestation. However, when the
molester tells the child she must keep their activity secret
another "red flag" comes up. What happens to the
children who have always openly explored those parts of their
body with others their age? What happens if they know
they have their parents approval?
Those children are going to mistrust why this person says
they need to keep their activity secret. Children free
to be naked, regularly seeing their parent's naked bodies in
the natural course of daily events, question the
secrecy. If accustomed to being naked, children will
normally wonder why the molester makes it into something so
All three "red flags" are going to raise questions in the
mind of the child. They increase the chance a child will
turn to his or her parents with questions. Children
whose parents have taught that nakedness is naughty or should
be kept hidden have no way out. This is especially true
if parents punish the child's nakedness.
Those children cannot ask their parents why the molester
behaved strangely. They cannot ask why he was so
excited, was interested in their body, or why he insisted on
secrecy. To do so is to admit that she was naked with
him. Didn't the child molester tell her that she would
get in trouble if she told?
Used to Nakedness
On the other hand, children who have grown up with open
nakedness have no such barrier to face. If nakedness
raises any questions children cannot answer with their five
senses, they usually will ask their parents about it.
Asking their parents any questions they have about the body is
very natural if their family is open about nakedness.
They do not have to overcome shame or embarrassment about
their interest in the human body. Therefore, the pattern
of turning to the parents about sexual questions will be the
natural course of settling sex questions.
Children familiar with natural nakedness have a strong
advantage if they face a pedophile. An attempt at
molestation will usually motivate children to ask their
parents about the adult's strange behavior. The parent's
history of openness about nakedness will have prepared their
children to turn to them to answer such questions.
Threats against a child or her family will only raise more
questions. Threats increase the chances children will
find the molestation to be so strange they will want to ask
their parents about it.
Open nakedness voids the molesters demands for
secrecy. Natural nakedness creates a wholesome openness
within families about their bodies and sexual matters.
This makes it easy for children to ask their parents sexual
questions. It also makes it more likely they will
question and report sexual behavior that troubles them.
Since the molester's behavior is very strange, it is more
likely children will feel compelled to question his parents
about it. His behavior will seem very strange compared
to the naked adults the child has known before.
Most important, by having a familiar "out" for sexual and
nudity questions, children avoid much distress. Those
children do not have to harbor in secret the guilt of having
done something their parent would dislike. Accustomed to
openness, the victim of a molester does not have to harbor the
fear that comes with the molester's threats. It is
probably the harboring of guilt rather than the actual
incident that causes the most damage to a child.
Unwitting Role of a Victim
One other element of child sexual abuse needs to
mentioning. That is the cooperation of the child.
No one can diminish in any way the power of the adult over any
child. Adults gain power by their size, by their ability
of abstract reasoning, and by their aura of authority.
Even if a child does cooperate in the molestation, the
responsibility always lies with the adult.
Some children may have an unconscious need to
cooperate. Those children are the ones who have not
satisfied in their own minds the sexual matters they need to
know. Therefore, those unfulfilled needs are still
present and the need to fulfill them may be strong enough to
overcome their training.
Those children consciously know they should not be
participating in the molestation. Yet, the emotional
compulsion to answer unfulfilled questions about the body may
overcome their willpower. Also present may be delight in
the excitement of discovering what is forbidden.
Children who have settled those questions with age-mates will
not have an emotional need to settle them with an older
We often hear that the victim of sexual abuse feels
guilty. Why? If the molester is to blame, why
would the child feel guilty? The simple fact that he or
she did something his parent disapproves would cause some
guilt. Becoming excited about something forbidden leads
to a feeling of guilt.
However, there is a far more damaging cause of guilt.
It arises from an awareness that she emotionally wanted
to carry on while also knowing it was wrong with an
adult. Thus, there may be a conscious desire not to be a
participant. However, she has a conflicting unconscious,
emotional need to participate. This discord is probably what
produces the severely damaging guilt that usually accompanies
child sexual abuse.
By this measure natural nakedness during childhood can be a
genuine aid in the prevention of sexual abuse. It
naturally provides the tools a child needs to avoid damage
from molestation. Natural nakedness also aids in
the prevention of a pedophile.
The key is the nature of the nakedness. It must be
wholly natural to the child and completely lacking of any
adult sexual suggestion. If nakedness is seductive
or depicted as naughty and secret, any benefits preventing
sexual abuse will be lost. There is no question the
damage to the child can be extremely extensive. Parents
should see that their children openly and naturally experience
nakedness. They must be sure the natural nakedness is
wholesome and not erotic. Then, they will be solidly
equipping the child to deal with attempts at sexual
Copyright © 2002 Paul M. Bowman
Paul has written
excellent books on the subject of nudity as it relates to
children and the Bible. For information on how to get
his books Click Here
for his site.
researchers who would like to conduct studies on the effects
of nudity, especially on children, should contact Paul.
Any institution or business person who is willing to fund such
studies should contact Paul as well. Paul will work as a
clearing house to help facilitate and put any professionals
conducting such research or any one interested in founding it
in contact with each other in order to get some quality
You may contact
Paul by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or by postal mail
Paul M. Bowman
P. O. Box
Ferndale, WA 98248 (USA)
for more information or to contact him via his
1. Source: Deceived by Shame, Desired by
God: Cynthia Spell Humbert, Navpress,
Colorado Springs, CO, 2001