Family Naturism Questions Part 3: Bullying
Questions About Family Naturism Part 3: What If My Kids Get Bullied For Being Nudists?
When parents worry about their kids telling the wrong people about naturism, they also worry about what could happen when kids tell their peers. Maybe their friends or classmates will think it’s cool…or maybe they will see a reason to bully or pick on the kid.
Parents may fear that their child will tell the wrong “friend” who will then blab to other kids or students. Gossip about a student being a “nudist” could spread around a school or community really fast, especially since a lot of bullying now happens on social media. It can result in the child being ostracized, verbally harassed, physically attacked etc.
But in most cases it doesn’t matter what characteristic a bully might be focusing on or what words they’re using to taunt someone else. A kid who wants to bully will find something to latch on and attack, whether it’s the victim’s weight, appearance, hobbies, sexual orientation or an identity like “naturist.”
The likelihood for bullying in regards to naturism seems greater just because naturism isn’t widely accepted or understood, especially in certain communities and especially when kids are involved. It can definitely make a kid stand out as “different.”
If a child is picked on for being a naturist, ultimately it needs to be addressed just like with any other harassment situation. Bullying is a widespread issue and affects all kind of families and communities. It can have serious negative effects on the victim’s mental health and emotional well-being. It can also be violent and in the most extreme cases has even lead to suicide or murder.
Though progress is too slow, bullying is definitely taken more seriously than it ever was before. Many schools have developed policies to address it along with programs for prevention. Parents can find plenty of online resources for how to deal with bullying and how to talk to their kids about it. This general advice can be helpful whether a child is being harassed about naturism or something else.
Have there been cases of kids being harassed for being naturists?
Growing up as a naturist, I have heard a story or two over the years about nudist kids of previous generations getting taunted at school. I can’t verify these stories, but I’m sure that it has happened to some poor souls out there. But I don’t think it’s been anywhere near commonplace, and kids have been much more likely to experience harassment that has nothing to do with naturism.
I personally was careful about which friends I told about naturism as a kid. As I mentioned before, I never got a negative reaction. Mainly friends responded that they thought it was cool or interesting and were curious about it. They may have even visited Rock Lodge with me if they’d been given the opportunity.
In high school I ran into a situation that other nudist teenagers had actually thought about and feared – a kid from my high school randomly showed up at Rock Lodge when I happened to be there. His father was on a construction job at the club so he tagged along. Admittedly I panicked when I first saw him, but nothing happened. He said hello, he got naked and enjoyed the beach like it was no big deal. And he didn’t go around talking about me at school or anything like that.
What do naturist parents today think about bullying?
Continuing our interviews with naturist parents as in the last two articles of this series, we asked these same parents if they worry about bullying and if they’d ever run into a harassment situation that involved naturism.
Michael and Laurie (two girls ages 8 and 6): “We have thought about bullying quite a bit. I think we have prepared ourselves the best we can by creating a good base of nudist family friends that we hang out with on a consistent basis. Those families have good well-balanced children. We think that will give us a good example to counter act and use as a defense against bullying. We have seen bulling at this young age already. When we hear negativity from other children we do step in to the girl’s defense. We explain to them that everyone doesn’t have the same views of the human body that we do but it’s ok, there is nothing wrong with our bodies. There is nothing to be ashamed of.”
Tom and Soraya (two girls ages 7 and 12): “I have worried about this to some extent, mostly for their sake. I do not want them getting made fun of, or having people think they’re weird. But again, they seem to know instinctively not to tell others. I worry about bullying, but nothing has happened yet. For our family it is such a non-thing, I can only see them getting bullied maybe over what someone might find online about their dad.”
Aviva (girl age 13 and boy age 9): “I was a bit worried, but nothing ever happened. I am fortunate to be living in New York, guess that is part of this.”
Karen (girl age 7 ½, boy age 6 and girl age 4 ½): “I have been concerned but since it hasn’t come up yet, I haven’t had to deal with it. As they get older, we will need to discuss the issue. Probably in the next year or so with the oldest.”
Lauren and Kirk (two boys ages 12 and 19): “We have thought about this, but really have not had to experience it. We don’t know if our children have told anyone, but we are secure enough to trust their discretion and handling of a situation if it did occur. Our younger son routinely hangs out in his underwear around his friends in our home and his friends are perfectly comfortable with him doing that, so for them to either know or hear that he is a naturist would more than likely be no surprise to them.”
I also got to interview Aviva’s 13 year old daughter directly about her thoughts and experiences growing up as a naturist. When I asked about telling others and bullying, here’s what she said:
“When I was eight years old I told my best friend that I went to a nudist club. I don’t remember her exact reaction but it was somewhat along the lines of that’s kinda weird (which she didn’t say out loud, but implied) and her spoken reaction was okay. I told my mom that night not thinking much of it and she freaked out. She was worried that my best friend wouldn’t want to be friends anymore. Luckily she didn’t care that much and we are still best friends to this day. Since then I’ve told four more friends and although not all their reactions were great I didn’t lose any friendships over it. The worse thing that came out of telling them was that one of my friends at my birthday party out of the silence asked if I ‘still went to that naked people thing’ in front of 10 of my other friends. I was really embarrassed, but my other friends were all pretty tired, since it was late, and didn’t seem to think much of it.
The reason I carefully chose the few people I tell about Rock Lodge and not most people is because not everyone is open minded and I’m afraid that I’ll be judged, bullied, avoided, etc.”
From all these interviews, it seems like naturist parents and kids worry about bullying, but it doesn’t actually happen very often.
I think if there is any specific advice for nudist kids dealing with bullying, it’s “keep your cool.” Treat naturism like it’s no big deal. This goes along with general advice that kids should act confident and put on a brave face in front of a bully. Getting upset or angry is the kind of reaction a bully is looking for so they can feel more powerful.
As for parents, teach your kids to be kind, respect others and be accepting of their differences. Encourage and teach them how to stand up for others when they see another kid being picked on.
Aviva also had some advice that I think applies here: “You yourself must be 100% comfortable with [naturism]. If you are conflicted kids will sense it, and may think you are doing something wrong, or that the family is ‘different’ in a ‘weird’ way. Since I am absolutely 100% good with nudism, my kids, if anything, feel special and proud about our family culture.”
Parents should aim to be positive role models. If you have any fear or discomfort about identifying as a naturist, your kids will definitely pick up on that. You can talk to your children about the fact that most people don’t grow up with naturism and might think it’s weird or misunderstand it (but that it’s perfectly normal). You can explain that their peers may think nudity or human bodies are gross or shameful because that’s what they’ve been taught. But it’s best to trust your kids to decide who they should or shouldn’t tell.
If you have the opportunity to befriend other naturist families with children as Michael and Laurie have, I think that would definitely help to create a supportive environment for kids.
For more advice and resources about bullying:
- stopbullying.gov (government site with information about anti-bullying legislation in different states)
- www.thebullyproject.com – a documentary film and resources for parents and kids
Naturist parent readers! What do you think about kids and bullying issues? Has it happened in your family? Do you talk to your kids about bullying? Share in the comments!