Naturism and The Need to Keep Children Safe

17 Nov

These past few weeks have seen a number of news stories which have suggested a disturbing aspect to some individuals involvement in the naturist world, and have shown why we, as legitimate naturists, need to be vigilant and keen to defend our lifestyle not just from distorted media perceptions, but also from those who would corrupt and misuse naturism for their own horrible ends.

The big story recently has been that of Brian Martens, a Florida man charged with taking pornographic photographs of his three young daughters and sharing them with other men.  Martens and his family live at Sunsport Gardens, a gated naturist community and resort in Palm Beach, and the case against him appears complicated and far from black and white.

At first glance, it would appear to be an unjust persecution of an innocent naturist family man.  Many naturist parents have nude photos of their children, and/or photos of them nude with their children.  If you live or holiday in a place where nudity is normal, it is only natural that your children may be naked in some family pictures.  There is nothing pornographic about such images, and nothing criminal about them: yet in the past, some families have found themselves in trouble with the police because mainstream society has misconstrued possession of them as something sinister.

That may be the case with Martens.  Certainly, Martens is a naturist, as are his daughters: he would have every reason to legitimately own nude photographs of them.  And according to his attorney, the photos include scenes of the girls baking cookies naked; they sound entirely innocent.

Yet there are other elements of the case which don’t fit the “innocent family snaps misunderstood” theme.  For one, the photos came to police attention because they were found on the computer of a neighbour of Martens from Sunsport Gardens; Leslie Grey Vanaman.  Vanaman is currently serving 60 years in prison for possessing child pornography and has previous convictions for such: he was also a self-declared professional photographer who did family portraits of children in the naturist community, including Martens’.  Martens defence is that while there are some pornographic images of his children (no sexual abuse is depicted, but there are apparently some more explicitly-posed close-ups) in the collection of Vanaman, they were taken without his knowledge, by a man who was exploiting the trust of the community in which he lived to secretly hoard both naturist and child-porn images – however the prosecution has provided emails between Vanaman and Martens where the images are shared, and Martens talks about the “sensuality and sexuality” of Vanaman’s photography, as well as boasting that as a male in the naturist community, he can use his three naturist daughters “as a passport” which would “open doors” for him.  That talk doesn’t sound quite so innocent.

Ultimately, the court will decide whether Martens has been a deceived victim or an active participant in the exchange of nude images of children for the purposes of sexual gratification, and he is innocent until proven guilty.  But the case, and in particular the role of Vanaman, highlights a problem that the naturist world needs to be aware of: those who would exploit the innocent, family togetherness of naturism for sinister ends.  Vanaman lived in a family community, taking professional-quality pictures of naked children, while at the same time downloading child pornography and harbouring an earlier conviction for this, which I am assuming nobody was aware of.  He was not a naturist because he believed in the enjoyment of casual non-sexual and social nudity, but because it gave him access to little girls with no clothes on.

Vanaman is not the only invividual to use naturism as a disguise to hide a sexual interest in children.  Also reported this week is the culmination of investigations into a global child pornography ring which had at it’s centre a Toronto-based company called Azov Films.  Brian Way, the founder of Azov Films, was jailed in 2010 for 24 offences, including making and distributing child pornography.  Among the products distributed by Azov Films were DVDs described as “naturist films”, showing naked children from Russia and the Ukraine.

There are a lot of these types of films available on the internet (I’m not going to link them, but they are out there).  There is nothing illegal about them: all they appear to show is naked children and teenagers going about all sorts of activities.  The participants are members of naturist communities in former Soviet countries, where naturism is more culturally acceptable and rules about filming children naked and selling those films are apparently more lax.

However, the whole existence of these films is something which makes me uncomfortable.  These are DVDs which people can buy to watch at home for their own entertainment.  To my mind, there is only one type of person who would be entertained by watching a film of naked children, and that is someone with an unnatural interest in seeing kids with no clothes on.  No genuine naturist has any need to own films such as these; they are the equivalent of owning a stranger’s holiday photos or home movies, completely without merit as entertainment to anyone except those in the films and those who know them.  In my time as a naturist I have never met anyone who admits to owning such films – while it is perfectly legal to do so, nobody views them as a positive factor in the global naturist community.  The investigation around Azov Films indicates that our suspicions that people who would buy them are also buying actual child pornography, and that those who make them are exploiting the willingness of these young people to be naked and their families to allow them to be filmed, appear to be correct

There are other cases in recent years where people have exploited naturism to further indulge their own perversions towards children.  Documented is the case of a paedophile ring in Portsmouth, UK, where 5 people set up a supposedly “naturist” website in order to distribute indecent videos and photographs of children.  Anecdotally, I have heard about important members of naturist organisations who have quietly withdrawn, rumour has it, because of police investigations around their alleged sexual interests; meanwhile on social sites, some individuals present themselves as parents in order to deceive other naturist families into sharing photos of their own kids, or else just live out their own bizarre fantasies of houses full of naked children running about.

It can feel at times like our lifestyle itself is under attack by stories like these and it can be tempting, as naturists, to leap to the defence of all aspects of naturism when it receives a negative depiction in the media.  After all, we believe in the positive aspects of our lifestyle and it affects how we are seen by others when negative news stories about naturists becoming involved in child abuse or child porn come about.

But we cannot defend the indefensible.  Child abuse and child porn is a monstrous corruption of the innocent, positive values of the naturist community, and we should not be willing to forgive the actions of those who would exploit naturism to feed their sick perversions, nor should we turn a blind eye to the fact that such individuals can, and do, operate in our midst.  We need to be mindful at all times of the need to protect our children and the children who visit our clubs, events, and homes to be nude there.

The image of naturism is better protected by taking a pro-active approach to child protection than it ever can be by burying our heads in the sand and popping up to complain about unfair portrayals when naturism is mentioned in connection with paedophiles who do appear to have been operating in our community.


8 Responses to “Naturism and The Need to Keep Children Safe”

  1. genevieveharvey18 November 17, 2013 at 9:02 pm #

    Reblogged this on Naked Imp and commented:
    As a fellow naturist you owe it to yourself and your fellow naturists to remain vigilante. Whilst we are an honest lot we all know it wouldn’t actually be that difficult for someone with less than honest intentions to wheedle their way in.

  2. nudeyman November 17, 2013 at 9:52 pm #

    We like to think our lifestyle is pure & immune from sexual predators, but as with all other walks of life there is some undesirable elements lurking, we must be always vigilant & above all don’t sweep this issue under the carpet & hope it goes away…

  3. homeclothesfree November 17, 2013 at 10:43 pm #

    Reblogged this on home clothes free and commented:
    This is a very important subject to broach that is why I think nudist bloggers should forgo pic of children on their blog even if it actual to say nudism is family activity

  4. wnwd November 18, 2013 at 7:07 pm #

    I generally quite value & enjoy this Get Naked, Get Awesome | A Positive Naturist Blog, so this response pains me greatly, but I could NOT let such wrong-being-committed-in-service-of-intended-good pass without comment.

    When ACTUAL child abuse &or sexual-assault occurs, whether naturism/nudism associated or no, OF COURSE it should be stopped & such transgressors dealt with. However, as quoted in the following, YOU are committing the EXACT SAME absolutist, stereotyping & false accusation as, for instance, religious zealots make about naturism/nudism!:

    “…there is only one type of person who would be entertained by watching a film of naked children, and that is someone with an unnatural interest in seeing kids with no clothes on. No genuine naturist has any need to own films such as these; they are the equivalent of owning a stranger’s holiday photos or home movies, completely without merit as entertainment to anyone except those in the films and those who know them.”

    Those opposed to naturism/nudism make the unfounded, absurd assumption that nudity = lust, that n/n is nothing but cover/excuse of rampant sexuality… & such is loathsome to us!… & here you are doing the exact SAME THING! To view a naked child–whether-or-not related/’in-group-with’–automatically means one desires to copulate with that child?… REALLY?… isn’t such despicable, false accusation exactly that which we’ve been fighting all along?

    1) What?, it’s perfectly ok, nay, encouraged!, for naturists/nudists to enjoy the sight of the nude human body… but only so long as that nude body is NOT of a certain age-range? Babies even in the textile world are often bare, so it’s just in some necessarily vague age-range where some pedophile MIGHT lust that we’re ALL committing pedophilia should we ENJOY seeing such?… this is logical?, valid?

    2) What?, it’s perfectly ok for families & friends, naturist/nudist or no, to take & later enjoy media of their ‘group’… but should one NOT HAVE family/friends/’group’/access-to-naturist-venue/etc, to wish to experience such vicariously is automatically warped?, wrong?, perverse?, voyeuristic?… & even worse if, again, there happen to be beautiful bare bodies of a certain age-range included then this AUTOMATICALLY brands such viewer as pedophile?… this is rational?, fair-minded?, inclusive?

    3) What?, it’s perfectly ok to enjoy not only the nude human body in whole, but also to especially appreciate certain specific aspects… as long as you don’t appreciate genitalia, in which case you’ll be labeled PRURIENT, & if it’s genitalia of, again, a certain age-range then you’re PEDOPHILE CHILD ABUSER! (Much is made, including in the recent FL case, of media which prosecutors/police determine is of particular focus on genitalia… really?, textiles primarily motivated to get a conviction at ANY cost are the best judges of prurience -vs- aesthetics?… is the FL father guilty?, I haven’t seen the photos so I don’t know, but that’s the POINT!, I’m NOT making blanket accusation & summary judgment based on either absolutist generalizing nor on law-enforcement bias.)

    According to your brutal declaration, ANYBODY who has EVER aesthetically appreciated the sight of an unclothed child is, “someone with an unnatural interest”.
    YOU (or ANYONE) are going to determine for ALL of us, for ALL time, in ALL circumstance, who is & who is not a, “genuine naturist”?
    YOU (or ANYONE) are going to determine for ALL of us, for ALL time, in ALL circumstance, what does & what does not have, “merit as entertainment”?

    I recognize you’re attempting to protect naturism/nudism, but your employment of the tactics of the prudish & anti-nudity factions has the OPPOSITE effect!… by you-as-a-naturist being close-mindedly absolutist & stereotyping & presuming to determine standards for ALL naturism/nudism, you thereby lend validity to, provide ammunition for, reflect credence upon, those absolutists who would stereotype ALL naturism/nudism as nothing but prurience!, & who would attempt to inflict their beliefs & ‘standards’ upon others!

    • getnakedgetawesome November 18, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

      Touched a nerve, did I?

      I stand by what I said. If you buy a DVD of naked children there is something wrong with you.


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