Innocent children or kiddie porn? You decideKiddie Fiddling: who are the real paedophiles?

By Miranda S Givings

Sun readers say that photographing naked children makes you a paedophile. The author has now written a follow-up to this article. Please click here to read it

The furore that erupted in the press over the exhibition of a series of photographs of a naked little girl in a London Art Gallery may tell us a lot more about the Media's pernicious obsession with paedophilia than it does about the crime of 'kiddie fiddling' itself.

The British tabloid Press wasted no time in whipping up a storm of protest over Betsy Schneider's pictures of her naked daughter; innocent pictures that would not have raised an eyebrow twenty years ago. Today they apparently outrage the moral sensibilities of Sun readers — a group of people renowned for their high moral standards — and incite dirty old men in plastic Macs to abuse children, or so the media would have us believe. Far be it from us to suggest that pictures of naked tots sells newspapers, or that snaps of naked children combined with the word 'paedophile', sells even more. Pandering to the puerile appetite of the public for sensational sex-stories does nothing to raise awareness of the real causes of paedophilia. On the contrary, the attitude of the tabloid press to Ms Schneider's photographs undermines our relationship with our children by pushing the lie that nakedness is seedy and shameful.

The Sun accomplished this pavlovian trick in 2004 by juxtaposing two images of naked children; one of Ms Schneider's daughter and the other allegedly taken from a porn site, and asked readers to spot the difference. They couldn't. No surprise there then! Clever? We don't think so. What The Sun didn't bother to tell it's readers, and it's readers were too dim to work out for themselves, is that it is not naked children that gets kiddie fiddlers moist in the gusset, but little children full stop.
But then pictures of fully clothed little girls playing with Tinky-Winky doesn't sell papers, does it?

Such cynical manipulation of public anxieties is now being reinforced by well-meaning, but misguided do-gooders, who seem hell-bent on scaring the living daylights out of parents by claiming we are all drowning in a tide of paedophilia. Nothing could be further from the truth. I do not know a single parent who has had their child snatched from under their nose by a grubby man in a plastic Mac waving his willy at them. Sun readers apparently inhabit a parallel universe.

What is perhaps more disturbing, is the inexorable trend to sexualise children. The Americans started it with their 'tiny tots' beauty pageants years ago and it is not without significance that the biggest appetite for paedophilia is in the States. Now even Mothercare sell 'sexy' outfits for children as young as eight and nine, girls of twelve and thirteen dress like eighteen-year-olds and aspire to the same mindless, shallow, self-obsessed lifestyle which is driving so many teenagers to drug abuse, promiscuity and self-harm. Is it any wonder that some adults now regard young children as sex objects?

This is one side of the coin, the other is the public hysteria — fueled by the media's insatiable appetite for sensation — which is rapidly making the depiction of children in any context impossible for anyone but the very people who are exploiting and abusing them! We have now reached the point where anyone who photographs children, either privately, or professionally, risks being branded as a filthy kiddie fiddler. That would make me, my mum, my grandad, and most of my parent's generation paedophiles. What next? Will the smiling cherubs that adorn the roof of the Sistine Chapel be plastered with 'censored' stickers? Will all those cute kiddies flogging nutritionally challenged snacks be banned from the Telly in case a paedophile should catch a glimpse of them? We are already so obsessed with this modern plague that a parent dare not take their holiday snaps to Boots for fear that images of their naked children playing on the beach will damn them as paedophiles. Fathers are afraid to cuddle their daughters in public in case some well-meaning busybody might report them to the Social Services; men are terrified of being left alone in a room with young children. What are we so afraid of?

Informed and intelligent people know that over 95% of child sex abuse takes place in the home. Sun readers apparently believe there is a kiddie fiddler on every street corner. They also choose to ignore the fact that the mucky man in the Mac is usually a parent, close relative, or an adult well known to the child. That's right: dads, uncles, cousins, dad's best mates, and sadly sometimes mums and aunts, too — people who know the child, and whom the child trusts and often loves. These are the real facts that are being deliberately suppressed by much of the Media - both on and offline. Instead, a plausible fiction has been devised; the anonymous child-stalking paedophile, who lurks outside every school entrance, leers from behind every bush and 'grooms' teenage girls in Internet Chat Rooms. The media would have us believe that our cities are awash with paedophiles hell bent on getting into our children's pants. In reality, your ten-year-old daughter is more likely to trip over her Nike trainers and hit her head on her mobile phone than have some bloke in a plastic Mac grab her little titties while she's texting her mates. I repeat: what are we all so afraid of, and why do we need a scapegoat?

The unpalatable truth is — ourselves. There are no paedophiles in the animal kingdom. What do animals know that we don't? I blame the bloke (it was almost certainly a man) who first associated nakedness with sex. It was probably also a man who told the first woman to cover herself up. Once you have successfully introduced the concept that nakedness is shameful because it is associated with sex; repression, perversion and vice are sure to follow. Every mother knows that children do not have a problem with the naked human body, or the expression of their sexuality, until, or unless, such 'shame' is taught to them by a prudish, sexually repressed adult. Were you that adult? Did your mother tell you not to touch yourself 'there' because it's 'dirty'?

Paedophilia arose out of our twisted attitudes to sex and our suppression of our natural urges which only become unnatural when they have no legitimate outlet. Until we get to grips with that unpalatable truth, no amount of censorship or outraged Sun readers will make the slightest bit of difference. We created this problem. You and I. Blaming it's continuance on anonymous child-stalking paedophiles neatly side-steps any need to take personal responsibilty for the sex-obsessed society we have created in the West. Only you and I can stop it. We can make a beginning by refusing to buy the lie that images of naked children are obscene, or that there is anything shameful in the body that Nature gave us. We can refuse to dress our children in clothes which turn them into sex-objects and encourage them to view sex in it's rightful perspective; a natural appetite like any other to be enjoyed responsibly when they are old enough to do so, not something to be ashamed of or to place upon a pedestal which gives it an importance out of all proportion to its true value.

The alternative is to live in a world where a mother cannot photograph her naked son playing in the garden, or a father cannot cuddle his naked daughter in case they are mistaken for paedophiles. Sun readers apparently already live there.

The author has written a follow-up to this article. Please click here to read it

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Last updated 22nd May 2005
© 2005 Miranda S Givings and