File this under Unbefreakinlievable.
In case you missed it, an Arizona couple is suing Wal-Mart after a store employee in the photo lab developed some of the couple’s family pictures and determined that a few bathtime photos of their three young daughters were pornographic. The pictures were passed on to local authorities. Despite the determination by doctors and social workers that nothing was wrong, the investigation continued. Kids were removed from home for a month. Couple was required to register as sex offenders. Mother suspended from job for the duration of the investigation — one year. After that time, a judge threw the case out. Because, after all, nothing was wrong. (Read the story as reported on Good Morning America on Monday.)
Pardon my language, but WTF?
What parent hasn’t taken a picture of their own uber-cute child in a bubble bath? Or snug in a towel following said ritual of hygiene? Or taken a picture of a loved one hugging a child — wrapped in a towel or in a bathing suit or summer shorts?
To view innocent pictures as perverted speaks volumes to the mindset of that employee who set into motion the wheels of this ridiculous train.
The couple is outraged, emotionally shattered, and drained. And what of the agony of those children? What scars will they carry from this ordeal? And will Wal-Mart and the local police or that original so-well-intentioned employee be there to mend the wounds?
We all can appreciate our society’s efforts to protect its most innocent members, but this is another example of when those efforts spin out of control.
Like this couple, we try to teach our children to be proud of their bodies, whatever the form that body is. In a world where sharp focus on one’s appearance leads to devastating consequences like anorexia, bulimia, obesity (and us with three daughters!) self-confidence is paramount. Love your self, your mind, your body. To learn that lesson, to nurture and develop as best as you can, you’ve got to know yourself, your mind, your body.
Most kids love to be naked. Our job as parents is to teach them that there is a time and a place for everything, and the family home, especially the bathroom, is where showing a little skin is okay. Do we avert our eyes in shame when drying off a toddler after her bath? Should we remove ourselves from the room altogether and hope for the best? And if a parent snaps a picture of an irresistibly adorable moment (when naked child chooses to accessorize with a tiara and bedroom slippers but nothing else, or when he piles a two-foot bubble hat onto his head while still in the bath), if a mom or dad captures these moments — for their sweetness or plain hilarity — as the priceless memories that they are, that’s our business as parents.
Thank you, world, for helping us keep the kids safe when we venture outdoors. But unless you have some hard evidence that something is actually amiss, keep your Victorian noses out of my home.
(In a not entirely related vein, far more concerning is the exploitation of children for profit that our society seem to be applauding rather than questioning — the recent trend of kids, well, their parents, really, making a buck as precocious adults. Check out Lauren Beckham Falcone’s recent column on the topic. And hey, Arizona Wal-Mart staff, you might want to spend a little more time investigating a popular activity in your neck of the woods — preschool beauty pageants. Nah, not at all as troubling as a naked tush. My mistake.)