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Second thoughts about nude baby photos

By Jennifer LaRue Huget

My daughter and I had the family photo albums out the other day to look for images to include on her senior-year high-school yearbook page. What fun we had looking at pictures of her and her brother that we hadn't seen in years! Among the hundreds of photos of them at the beach, in Times Square, at Disney World and in front of various Christmas trees was the occasional shot of one or the other of them naked as a jaybird. (Whatever a naked jaybird is.)


Some parents are having second thoughts about taking nude baby photos. (PRNewsFoto)

Of course, those photos stopped appearing once we got to the albums that documented their post-infant and -toddler years. But the images of those happy, round babies made us all smile. I wouldn't trade those snapshots for anything.

But then I read this story about the potential risks, legal and potentially sexual, of taking and sharing (inadvertently or otherwise) nude pictures of your kids. It made me feel sick to my stomach -- and glad that my kids had apparently been spared any ill effects from my having taking such pictures of them.

It also made me glad that I don't post pictures of my children on Facebook or any other social media sites. That has always seemed like an invasion of privacy, and I sometimes cringe at pictures my Facebook friends have posted of their own children looking, to their eyes, adorable but to an outside observer's, extremely silly -- or worse. I tend to think about it from the kid's point of view: Would he want people seeing him wearing his sister's bathing suit, now or in a few years?

Still, I hate that loving, well-meaning parents have to think twice before taking bearskin-rug photos of their kids. But I suppose it's more important to protect children against pedophiles and other dangers than to have immortal images of their bare butts.

What's your take on this? Please comment, and please vote in today's poll.

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  | November 4, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Parenting, Social Media  
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Comments

We live in a crazy politically correct nation. Then I read this story about the potential risks, legal and potentially sexual, of taking and sharing (inadvertently or otherwise) nude pictures of your kids.

Are we really turning into a police state? Are the police or child protection social workers going to come and take away our kids because of nude baby photos? Will parents be charged with paedophilia or child endangerment?

Just as crazy is this news release:

A group of researchers at the University of Kentucky-Lexington, thinks that Bill Clinton’s famous assertion that he “did not have sexual relations” with Monica Lewinsky may be the reason so many young people today don’t consider oral sex to count as doing the deed ...

Posted by: alance | November 4, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

It's quite inappropriate to share photos of your kids with strangers regardless of their state of dress or undress. The idea, though, that an internet posting of a naked baby will prompt someone to track down and molest that baby is absurd.

Posted by: dkb50 | November 4, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

The fact of the matter is child predation is a much more common event than most people believe. As a parent, its almost impossible not to have a picture of nude or semi-nude baby. I wouldn't, and haven't, shared those pictures with anyone beyond immediate family. It just isn't necessary.
That said, I was appalled that they removed the craigslist adult services because of issues with prostitution, particularly minors. Seems that if you know its happening, and you have a place to find the offenders and scum, it makes more sense to NOT close it down but use it as a tool to investigate and arrest. Rather than saving the people being exploited, they drove it back underground. That is just bad policy and borders on stupidity.

Posted by: oo7 | November 4, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

This whole thing is out of control. If you can't tell the difference between "family" photos and child pornography, your either twisted, or not paying attention. Grow up, America. Sheesh.

Posted by: jckdoors | November 4, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Slowly, bit by bit in our feminized society, safety and PC activists together with lawyers are eliminating freedom. I think it was Benjamin Franklin who said something like "a society willing to trade its freedom for safety (security) will end up with neither".

Posted by: concernedcitizen3 | November 4, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Slowly, bit by bit in our feminized society, safety and PC activists together with lawyers are eliminating freedom. I think it was Benjamin Franklin who said something like "a society willing to trade its freedom for safety (security) will end up with neither".

Posted by: concernedcitizen3 | November 4, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

I've always thought such nude photos of anybody being posted on a website is bizarre. Not to mention those weird 'family in the bathtub' photos. Strange as it seems there are families who bathe and shower together. Gag! What's next? Toddler on the potty? Daddy taking a leak? Morning sickness vomit photos? Nobody wants to see that stuff.

Posted by: Baltimore11 | November 4, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Child pornography and sexual exploitation are in the eyes of the beholder. There is no effective difference between someone who masturbates to clipped public photos of say, Pamela Anderson or Lady Gaga, and someone who does so to a copy of your naked baby picture. The point is, as creepy as most of us find this behavior, no child was harmed or exploited.

More importantly, when there is no harm or exploitation of an individual, there is no cause for legal action against the behavior, or behaviorist. Which is one reason why the current ban and prosecution against animated child porn should be unconsitutional. I can commit virtual murders by the billions, but I can go to jail for life for viewing virtual child porn?

As for the instance where the Velasquez's were prosecuted for the photo of the father kissing the belly of his naked child; Walgreens should be sued for a million dollars for filing a false report, the police for false arrest and imprisonment, the Utah Child Protective Services for kidnapping, and Diaz-Palomino should be allowed back into the country (provided he takes and passes the citizenship class and test) since he was "discovered" based on a false accusation.

More importantly, the type of interaction between Diaz-Palomino and his son are precisely the interactions needed to properly socialize a child and prevent or minimize autism. This misguided urge to prevent any unseemingly contact between children and other children or adults because it might be "sexual" in perception is causing greater harm to us as a society and individuals than the actual abuse.

Posted by: mhoust | November 4, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

This reminds me of a posting on a mommy-blog I saw recently. The author posted that she was going to stop posting photos of her kids, because she saw that someone downloaded some of them and posted them to a flickr account that was nothing but downloaded photos of little kids in these kinds of photos. Someone was collecting them off of blogs and flickr and wherever else and sharing them with god knows who. Anyone who doesn't strictly vet the photos they put on the Internet of their kids is crazy..

Posted by: john65001 | November 4, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

But then I read this story about the potential risks, legal and potentially sexual, of taking and sharing (inadvertently or otherwise) nude pictures of your kids. It made me feel sick to my stomach -- and glad that my kids had apparently been spared any ill effects from my having taking such pictures of them.
----------
Ridiculous!! The risk is inflicted purely by small minded politicians and other fear-mongers trying to get brownie points for 'protecting the children' (gag) and writing poor laws that punish harmless behavior. Nudity!=sex at any age. So what if someone might get a thrill or collect those they thought cute? Some people would get a thrill from advertisements of shoes. Now, your kids might be embarrassed in their teens, but they will live, just like we did.
OTOH I don't post _any_ pictures on-line, being somewhat private by nature. If I did I would set privacy such that only family or other close invitees could see them, and probably wouldn't leave them up long.

Posted by: pcgeorge | November 4, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Gee, two obnoxious trends rolled into one:

1) Oversharing on social networks. Do you as a parent expect to have any credibility with your kids in a few years, when you're trying to keep them from posting nude photos of them at a frat party? Do you expect to have this credibility AFTER you posted their nude bathtup pictures (without informed consent) yourself?
2) Obsessing over pedophiles. We have now defined pedophilia so loosely that merely processing these pictures can get you arrested in some corners of the US. This is insane.

So its not awful to take the pictures. It is at least potentially awful to post them. A pox on both of these trends!

Posted by: gwcross | November 4, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Twelve years ago I had an opportunity to model for a professional photographer working on an art book of members of a minority religion - an earth-friendly and life-affirming one. My younger son was 14 months old at the time, and the pose I chose was of me nursing him. Both of us were nude.

A year after the photo was taken, the photographer did a slideshow presentation of all the pictures for the book. One of the strongest audience reactions was ooh's and ah's of the mother-and-child image we'd created - it was exactly what I'd had in mind when I suggested the pose, and the photographer had made it even more beautiful than I could have hoped.

The book still hasn't been published - last I heard, the photographer was still shopping for a publisher. The images (many nudes, not just me and my son) have mostly never been posted on any web-sites. A few were displayed on the photographer's business web-site, without identifying the models, but that site was taken down several years ago.

I still hope the book is published someday. And I don't particularly worry about perverts/pedophiles - my now-13-y-o wouldn't be of any interest to someone who was excited by an image of a naked baby.

Posted by: SueMc | November 4, 2010 7:08 PM | Report abuse

What sexual risks, exactly, are you referring to? The risk that some pervert, somewhere might, unbeknownst to you or your child, be aroused by the photograph? Who is harmed in that scenario? And since perverts are known to be aroused by the most innocent things, how could you ever protect the putative victim from whatever harm is caused when a pervert gets aroused but has no contact of any kind with the victim or anyone the victim knows?

The world is not more dangerous than it was when we were children. People have just gotten more stupidly paranoid.

Posted by: burntnorton | November 4, 2010 7:57 PM | Report abuse

"But I suppose it's more important to protect children against pedophiles and other dangers than to have immortal images of their bare butts."

Show us, please, what the connection is. You and many Americans are doing the bidding of the repressive fear-mongerers by inferring that photos of naked children increase crime against them.

They don't. Forty years of research have tried to prove a connection and have failed, beginning with a commission established by Lyndon Johnson mostly carried out under Richard Nixon.

"The fact of the matter is child predation is a much more common event than most people believe." Why do people make this stuff up? It may be obvious . . .

Many law enforcers claim that child sexual abuse is rampant. It's very rare. It declined by 53% in this country between 1992 and 2006. But people read of one or two incidents of abuse in the news over several months and conclude it's an epidemic. How sensible is that?

By suggesting the banning of photos of unclothed kids, you send them the message that their bodies are bad. You make them anxious and afraid of body parts. You set them up for adult obsession and sexual dysfunction. You make them more likely, not less, to be subject to unreported child sexual abuse because of ignorance or (often) lack of confidence about their bodies.

America has it dead backwards. Indeed, societies with better attitudes towards the body have far fewer socio-sexual pathologies.

In conclusion, don't contribute to the problem by agreeing with people who have no basis for their comments or actions but ignorant prejudice in the service of a manipulative and harmful socio-political agenda.

Posted by: rapoport3a | November 4, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

I have no problem with taking nude shots of the kids - my parents did and I was never embarassed about them, but putting them on social network sites is a whole different issue.

I agree that this is a serious invasion of privacy. I saw a few years ago pictures of the Irish QB Clausen in a speedo when he was in early high school or junior high. More than one blogger coppied the picture and used it to belittle him. While he had some success removing it, the image pops up from time to time because nothing is ever deleted from the internet.

Another friend had a son who became a model and at one point was dating a reality tv star. his family website was hacked and finally they shut it down because family pics were being used by others for sport.

The internet is harsh to those who are not careful. Getting back to the nude pics of kids - pre-internet would you have taken them to the supermarket and put them on a buliten board? Would you have put them up in your childs school? No? Then don't put them on line or e-mail them. You can not control where they will end up. Common sense usually adapts to most situations.

Posted by: kevin17 | November 4, 2010 9:52 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't post a picture of or even discuss anybody I know by name online without their permission (of course I make exceptions for political discussion, etc.). I'm always surprised what information people are willing to share about themselves, their families, their neighbors, bosses, neighborhoods, etc.

With that said, I'm not afraid of risks of abductions, etc., as I understand them to be rare. This is more of a privacy & respect kind of matter to me. I just don't believe I have the right to disseminate info about someone else, and that includes all the cute pictures I have of my nieces and nephews.

Posted by: sarahabc | November 5, 2010 8:23 AM | Report abuse

I write and make videos for a living, and most of my work is available on the Internet. This is not porn, mind you, but lots of technical stuff for programmers and some promo work for local adult teaching groups, ophthalmologists, lawyers, and other professionals and busines owners.

Now about my personal postings: I've had a personal blog -- roblimo.com -- since before the word "blog" became popular. I'm on LinkedIn and Facebook. All pictures of show me fully clothed, often holding a video camera.

Many years ago -- 50s -- my parents took nude pics of me, same as just about every parent with a camera did back then. The high point of my baby album was nude pics of me, age

These were not mere snapshots. My father had part-timed for years as a pro photog, and his friend was a movie cameraman and director -- one of those guys you've never heard of but has a LONG page of credits on IMDB.com plus a lot of indie documentary work. So natch, the photo work was *extremely* good. I happen to know (was told later) that they proud photog/dads showed those pics to quite a few people.

But Internet? If they'd had an Internet back then, those photos and other baby photos would have stayed private. Sure our stage mother mothers circulated "comps" (photo portfolios) of us to damn near everyone in L.A., and we even got a few parts. But those photos were not salacious. They were "cute kid" shots. I still have them.

And NO I am not going to yield to a Facebook trend I find just as cloying as those kid shots themselves: using child or baby shots as your profile pic. I'll stick to current ones of me at work -- behind or holding a camera, or something else sort of professional.

Posted by: roblimo | November 5, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

A few weeks back I posted some pics of my children who grew up on a tropical island.

The F.B.I. came to my door with copies of the pics.

I asked them if they saw something sexually stimulating in the pics.

I also asked them if they knew what the Supreme Court has ruled on "Tubby" pics of kids.

I guess they wanted me to beg them not to arrest me for "Kiddie porn". They went back to Miami very disappointed.

Let us all hope that the government does not find out that there are folks out there with a sexual fetish for shoe's. Then again, there are folks out there with sexual fetishes for naked feet.

Do we all chop off our feet to avoid the knock on the door?

At the rate we're going, the cops are going to be arresting babies who pop out of the womb undressed.

Posted by: BillMedvecky | November 6, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

The problem we have is that we cannot determine in advance what a pedophile will take a fancy to. Maybe that picture of a five-year-old, fully dressed, on a horse will drive some pervert wild. Should we, then, outlaw pictures of kids on horses? Nah, I didn't think you'd go that far.

There are nude pictures that are in good taste, and nude pictures that aren't in good taste. Some websites ban nude pictures ... period. Some try to strike a balance, judging some nudes 'art' and banning others. Who is the judge? Do you wish to be judged by 'anonymous'? Nah, I didn't think you'd like that either.

I think we've gone too far. It is right to attempt to prevent the exploitation of children. It is borderline insanity to deem every nude photo of a child to be pornography. ...and if I were the judge, I'd be reluctant to label any photo of a child in the bathtub, or even a clutch of kids in the bath together, as pornographic. Oh, and yes, I agree, some pervert somewhere is going to go wild over some of the photos I'd deem OK. If that bothers you, don't take photos of your kids in the bathtub.

...and if you do, don't take them to the drugstore to be printed. There's always a chance that the pervert works at your drugstore, and she'll steal your photos and publish them on FaceBook.

Posted by: artyaffe | November 6, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

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