By Bunmi Sofola
Do you think it’s irresponsible to let children run around naked in public? And at what age should they stop doing so? Decades back, long before the emergence of paedophiles and serial rapists.
A nobody bat an eyelash whenever any kid ran around the neighbourhood – some even did it close to puberty! “Sadly while children are entirely innocent and their mothers well-meaning, society these days frown at naked kids screaming all over the place,” observed Saidat who works with a welfare centre for kids.
She continued: “Of course most men are not paedophiles, but we have to acknowledge that in this age of mobile technology, there are people who like to take pictures of children in public and share them with other deviants. And that is not the only issue. It will also invite judgement from other parents, who don’t let their children play naked. The sight of another parent’s unclothed girl can make fathers, particularly, feel awkward. And from around five years old,
children become more aware of their bodies and might be bullied by their peers for running around naked.”
“It is only when you make nudity shameful that it becomes dangerous,” says Bisoye, a dancer, who runs a dancing school. “I want my daughter to enjoy the innocence of childhood – that includes
the freedom of not wearing clothes. I don’t make a conscious decision to let her take her clothes off. But often, the mood takes her. If she accompanies me to the school, 1 will kit her in shots and skimpy top and she always asks me if she wants to take them off. 1 don’t see a problem. Several of her friends also play naked, especially in this hot weather and so far, no one has objected. Perhaps its because the school is on the outskirt of Lagos where people are more care – free.
“Of course I’m aware of deviants. Once, in an eatery, I caught a middle-aged man taking photos of my girl, then aged five in her skimpy clothes. 1 made a lot of noise and security frog-matched
him out of the place after he’d been forced to delete the photographs he took. If I weren’t in a hurry to keep an appointment, I would have insisted on the police being called. This just shows that bad things can happen regardless of whether children are clothed. We can’t live our lives thinking something awful might happen. Besides, I always keep a watchful eye.”
“My husband is laid-back about our daughter playing naked, and I’m convinced that letting her play unclothed will encourage her to develop a positive body image. She knows that boys’ and girls’ bodies are different and we’ve already touched on sex, which shouldn’t be a taboo subject. I’ve also told her about periods and that when she grows up, she’ll get boobs like me! I have happy memories of playing naked with a lot of children when we all went to the stream at Ipaja, where I grew up, and I want her to enjoy a similar freedom.
Of course I don’t want her naked at puberty, and I’m sure she’ll soon grow out of it. While many of us ran around without clothes as children, sadly, we no longer live in such innocent times. Child sex offences are reported every hour. There’s also a dramatic increase in online paedophilia.”
Meanwhile, the subject of nudity continues to polarise parents. Justina, a beautician in her 30s says she’s encountered much opposition to letting her daughter take off her clothes in public.
“Friends and strangers have expressed surprise and disapproval,” she says. “But to force my five-year-old daughter to wear clothes would be to rob her of her childhood. She likes being naked. It is the nicest feeling for a child not to worry about the feel of clothes against her skin. Recently, at a birthday party organised for one of her friends at the family home’s swimming pool, a woman approached me and said my daughter had ‘lost’ her swimming costume. When I told her she simply wanted to run around without it, she was taken aback, but I wasn’t bothered. My sole focus is making sure my daughter is happy and safe. I don’t look around constantly for
strangers. As long as I watch her closely, she can’t come to any harm.”
“Because nudity is so wrapped up in sex and pornography, we think we’re doing the right thing by covering up children,” says Andrew, a psychologist, “but they will grow up with hang-ups about their bodies. For instance, in Scandinavia, where naked bodies are commonplace in public, STls and teen pregnancy rates are lower.
Child nudity is perfectly acceptable.” Well, try telling that to parents who had no choice than to send their scantily clothed daughters on the street hawking various goods, only for most of them to be violently defiled” When I see a naked child aged four or over, or a small girl hawking on the streets, I feel sick to my stomach that something bad might happen,” continued Saidat. “You don’t know who’s lecherously looking at their innocent bodies and imagining how they could be abused – quite a number of them, in a most violent way”.
The debate over whether it is wise or not to educate girls so young about the importance of covering their bodies continues to rage. But cases of rape even amongst teenage children should make the average parent sit up and think of the rationale behind their sending an innocent girl to fetch some water at the public tap stark naked.
Power-Drill Hubby? (Humour)
Three wives are talking about their respective husbands over lunch. The first one says: “I’ve nick-named mine The Dentist, because he really knows how to handle his drill”.
The second smirks: “I call mine The Postman, as he never has trouble getting up to make a delivery.” “Well, I call mine, The miner,” the third giggles. “Because he’s always dirty and he’s got a really big shaft!”
Now You See It… Now You Don’t! (Humour)
“I had it all once,” a man moans to a barman. “Money, big house, a fast car, the love of a beautiful woman. Then suddenly, it was gone.” “How come?” the barman asks. “My wife found out.”
Q: Which three little words are guaranteed to stop your man drifting straight off after sex?
A: “I’ve had better.”