Men & Boys in the Locker Room

Hi Readers — Just got this interesting story from Australia: Boys have been banned from a Sydney public pool’s locker room because the ADULT MEN using it fear they may be falsely accused of being pedophiles.

So, for a while the boys had to change behind a stack of chairs, and now they’re changing in an unused clubhouse.

This is not happening in clubhouses all over the place, so it’s not like a sweeping change. What IS sweeping is the hyper focus on — nay, obsession with — pedophilia, to the point where we almost can’t help thinking about it in any situation where men interact with children.

The other day I heard the story of a young man who was at the grocery and waved at a child in a cart. When the mom and child showed up in the next aisle, he waved again. By the time he reached the third aisle, the manager asked him to leave.

No one wants to ignore any kind of sexual harm being done to children. But our awakened concern is over-ripening into hysteria.  Sometimes a wave is just a wave. In fact, USUALLY a wave is just a wave, and ESPECIALLY when we’re talking about a man, a little kid and HER MOM, in public, at a grocery. So let’s try to stop folks when they start thinking in terms of the weirdest, wildest notion: That the young man is — what? — getting off on this sick encounter? Or “grooming” this stranger’s kid for the next time they’re together, which is probably never? Or planning to pluck the kid from the grocery and run off without anyone noticing? Even if the young man WAS a perv (and there is zero evidence of that), what on earth could he get away with in the canned goods aisle?

But when folks don’t even stop to ask, “Wait? Does this worry make any sense?” you can see where undressed men in a locker room would be wary of being anywhere near some undressed boys.  — Lenore

 

Oh look! frolicking prey! Or wait. Maybe they're frolicking false accusers?

 

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68 Responses to Men & Boys in the Locker Room

  1. anonymousmagic October 25, 2010 at 8:11 pm #

    This is depressing. Instead of finding a solution they ban the kids. Kids need sports to keep up their health. Why not reorganize the place to create a locker room for boys? Why not ban the men? Why not build private changing stalls?

    I sort of understand where the fear comes from. In a locker room where people undress, the pedophile fear comes to the fore a lot sooner then it would in a supermarket. But I wish they would think of a solution instead of banning the kids.

  2. This girl loves to talk October 25, 2010 at 8:24 pm #

    well being a mum of four kids I’d prefer the wave in each isle than eye rolling

  3. Pundelina October 25, 2010 at 8:24 pm #

    They didn’t ban the kids from the pool anonymousmagic, the kids now have to change in a clubhouse a couple of hundred metres away from the locker rooms (at the other end of the pool). It sucks, but the kids can still swim and the grown-up guys feel safer.

    Soooo bizarre.

  4. msmama October 25, 2010 at 8:43 pm #

    This is actually one of my worst fears as a Mom who is trying to teach a 2 year old what to do if he gets lost.

    I want to tell him, “find a grownup to help you,” but how many grownups WON’T help because they’re afraid of what will happen to them? Will my kid really be left to fend for himself?

    This is a worry I never thought I’d have!

    (Oh, and FYI we’ve currently settled on “find a Mom” to help. Figure that’s one group of people he can actually identify.)

  5. Rob O. October 25, 2010 at 9:11 pm #

    Funny how this sorta flies in the face of the biggest argument that’s made in favor of circumcision – that boys look like other boys & men in the locker room.

    (I never bought that ridiculous line of reasoning anyway and consider circumcision nothing more than barbaric tradition – except in rare cases where it’s deemed medically-necessary because of structural anomalies or such.)

  6. Rob O. October 25, 2010 at 9:18 pm #

    I may be naively ignorant, but it doesn’t seem especially likely that pedophilia would occur easier in a locker room where people undress. I believe that if other men caught some guy leering at boys in the locker room, some swift and unflinching action would ensue.

  7. SKL October 25, 2010 at 10:07 pm #

    1) Yes, this is sad. I don’t know what went on with Michael Jackson but I prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt (innocent until proven guilty). That said, the most damning piece of “evidence” against him was that the accusing boy could describe some physical attribute of his penis. My thought was always – well if they were hanging out together, they must have gone to the bathroom at some point, and men use the urinals without privacy, right? Could not the boy have snuck a look at such a time, especially if his mom encouraged him to do so? How does that prove MJ broke a law?

    2) My dad babysits for me sometimes. About a year ago, he said, sure, I’m happy to babysit, but I don’t want to give the girls a bath. (My kids saw him without a shirt once and hollered “Grandpa is naked!”) Not that the kids “need” to be bathed by their grandpa, but it’s sad that we’re in a world where people have to worry about what a beloved toddler might say, now or in the future.

    3) Personally I am in favor of more privacy for everyone. Not because of pedophilia, though. My kids and I use the family changing room because I don’t want to flash everyone.

  8. SKL October 25, 2010 at 10:13 pm #

    Oh yeah, just yesterday I read a list of Halloween safety tips (just looking for amusement). Among the usual “don’t go out alone even if you are a teen” stuff, the writer added, “and be suspicious of anyone who does go out alone.” Sigh.

    [The list also said you should only go to houses where you know the people, and only if you are sure they are home. Even then you must make sure your mommy is watching, and your mommy has to rifle through your loot when you get home to make sure nobody has injected your candy bars with poison (look for slightly ripped wrappers, etc.). We all know, however, that the real reason moms rifle through the candy is so they get first dibs on the spoils! Too bad I don’t eat chocolate, or I’d really be looking forward to that . . . .]

  9. meggles October 25, 2010 at 10:32 pm #

    What the hell is wrong with a man waving at a kid in a couple grocery store aisles??? And even more so, what on earth is wrong with this paranoid mother? I have a 5-year-old and a one-year-old, and EVERY single time we are out in public we get smiles and waves from many of the adults (men and women of all ages) we come across. It’s not because these people have sinister tastes. It’s because most people enjoy children. I have told my 5-year-old many times that the reason she and her sister get attention is because in most cases, the adults are thinking of their own children or grandchildren. Even though I’m an introvert, I don’t mind the attention. We are bringing just a little bit of joy to someone’s day, and it’s NORMAL for adults to smile at little kids.

    This mother needs to get a grip. Shame on her. Who knows what havoc she may wreak on an innocent person’s life? A neighbor next, perhaps?

  10. Christina October 25, 2010 at 10:41 pm #

    How are we, as a society, supposed to raise our boys to be men and fathers if we constantly treat all men as potential pedophiles?

  11. WendyPinNJ October 25, 2010 at 11:25 pm #

    It’s all so sad and disgusting. My husband has long refused to drive our female babysitters home. Because he’s afraid he’ll end up accused of something. And I have 3 boys who will be men some day!

    But it’s not just men people seem to be afraid of. I am a woman, and a part-time photographer from a local NYT news blog. I was out taking photos at a town street festival recently, and was photographing a bunch of kids at a table on the street doing crafts. One woman–a mom of one of the kids–gave me the dirtiest look you can imagine. Made a mental note right there in my head not to use any of THOSE photos!

    Had she asked me, I could have assured her I wasn’t going to use ANY photo with full on faces of any of the children I photographed that day.

  12. Sue October 25, 2010 at 11:27 pm #

    It’s municipal election day here in Ontario, Canada, and I learned my usual voting station has been moved. No longer is it a convenient walk to the local public school for myself and my neighbours, many of whom are elderly. Now we must go nearly a mile further to a local community center.
    Why?
    Because having voting stations in schools opens up the schools to being accessible by all manner of potentially undesirable individuals. Doesn’t matter that the voting stations were well supervised by election personnel, and anyone entering the school was greeted and escorted to the polling station. No, you never know who might slip by…..
    I seriously weighed not voting in protest of this attitude, but decided voting was more essential…..So instead of walking the three blocks to the school, I will hop in my van and drive to the community center.

  13. kcs October 25, 2010 at 11:42 pm #

    About ten years ago a man at the community pool we went to was accused of being a pedophile. He had struck up a conversation with a teenaged boy in the locker room, discovered they both liked the same band and brought the teen a CD of that band the next time he came to the pool. The boy’s parents asked him where he got the CD and when he told them, they went to the community center director and raised the alarm.

    Now it’s possible that the older man was grooming the young teen–but since nothing happened, that can’t be proven. But I can sure see how every man who goes to that pool will now worry that something they say or do in the locker room will lead to accusations for them as well.

  14. wahoofive October 25, 2010 at 11:44 pm #

    In one sense the locker-room thing is just an extension of the logic which led to separate changing rooms for men and women. I mean, it should be possible for me to change clothes in the same room as a member of the opposite sex without getting aroused, unless you think that one gender’s brains are all-sex-all-the-time.

    But with that mentality, having all the men and boys change in the same room is only possible if you think that same-gender attraction is unthinkable. Now that it’s widely acknowledged, the logic of single-gender changing rooms is harder to defend.

    I’m with Lenore that a lot of this is ridiculous paranoia, but the locker room example is a lot more of a logical extension of our traditions than the grocery-store or playground examples she so regularly cites. At least the locker room involves nakedness, which has some kind of connection to sexual arousal.

    Or maybe that’s just my my knee-jerk RFID propaganda implant talking again.

  15. Denise October 25, 2010 at 11:45 pm #

    Oh, sigh.

    My boys went to camp at the YMCA this summer. There’s an indoor pool, and the kids changed in the locker rooms, of course separated by gender. There’s a rule where moms can take their sons into the women’s room up to age 5, and vice versa for dads. After camp, just about every day at pick up, I’d notice that one boy or other had left behind something. When my little guy told me he “probably” left his towel, shorts and underwear in the locker room, I asked him and is brother to dash in there and check. Meanwhile, a man going into the room saw me standing outside the door and asked if I needed help. I told him what my sons were in there for, and he said he’d go help them look. I didn’t for a sec believe he was mentally rubbing his hands together in glee, thinking, “oooh, two unaccompanied little boys!”

    He did help them find the towel. The shorts remain lost.

  16. Claudia Conway October 26, 2010 at 12:04 am #

    In the UK I’ve seen some pools (like our local) having ‘family changing areas’ by the pool – a set of large cubicles where mums or dads can help dress/undress their kids, which is probably not so much due to paedo fear as the issue of parents coming on their own and needing to deal with more than one child, or an older child of the opposite gender to themselves. Which is actually something that makes sense in a lot of ways.

  17. kate October 26, 2010 at 12:05 am #

    To msmama:
    My mother gave me an order of operations to ask for help. First look for a mother, if you can’t find one, ask a single woman, if you can’t see one of those ask a couple or a doorman, and finally security guard/policeman.

    We’ve since discussed this as adults and realize that dads with kids would be just as good as moms with kids, and this may have been suggested at the time, it just seemed like there were fewer of them out and about. Also, the fact that security guard/policeman was last on the list makes sense to us, but I’m not completely sure why. Security guards are often no better than asking any random guy on the street, and when you get the police involved then that might lead to an over-active response that could punish the mother for letting her child out of her sight at any time.

    The only resource I’ve ever used, in the end, was a doorman, and it turns out my mother has as well. One of the best bits of advice she gave me was if someone is setting off my caution feelings but it’s nothing big enough to run screaming away from (usually a) him, step into a lobby and ask the doorman if you can just hang out for a bit there. It’s a little bit of time to let the other person pass on and then you can carry about your day having addressed your worries in a sensible manner.

    Learning how to identify your feelings to other people and having reasonable options is empowering to everyone, even teenagers coming home from a babysitting job at night.

    Another thought, a friend of mine taught her toddler a song using the tune of twinkle twinkle little star and the words were her name, her mother and father’s names, their phone numbers and address. She would occasionally “cue” her with the phrase, “are you lost?” and “do you need help?”

  18. Silver Fang October 26, 2010 at 12:08 am #

    Wow. That’s pretty extreme. We still vote at the schools down here in the States.

  19. EricS October 26, 2010 at 12:09 am #

    Unfortunately, men are stereotyped as the typical offenders. I can’t deny that whenever I see a cute kid staring at me, I can’t help but smile back and wave. I love kids, and hope to have some of my own one day. In the meantime I have my nephew, and close friends’ children. I also can’t deny that whenever I do react, that there is at least one person who’s thinking “perv” in their head. For a second or two, I’d be a little apprehensive, then common sense kicks in, and I ignore the looks. The mothers never seem to mind, and I often end up having conversations about raising children. The surprising thing about these situations, is that a lot of the mothers I’ve talked to want to raise their kids “Free-Range”, but the overall fear do get the better of them most times. Many always reference the media.

    I can also understand the concerns of the men in Sydney. Who wants to go through the whole trouble should someone make false accusations against you. Sure, you didn’t do anything wrong, and if taken to court, charges will most likely be dropped. But in between, you deal with court costs, time lost from work, people start talking about you behind your back, people may start to see you differently affecting your work, and social circles. I can’t see that being fun. It’s a little different at that public pool, because some mothers are already complaining. Just a matter of time before someone flies of the handle and starts accusing men. Again, what is this way thinking teaching our kids? Nothing good.

    A wave, IS just a wave. And sometimes that wave and smile, is really meant for the mother. 😉 lol

  20. EricS October 26, 2010 at 12:22 am #

    On a side note, why does it seem that it’s always these people complaining about “perverts”, are the ones thinking of perverted thoughts. I mean, to think of someone as a pervert, one would have to envision that person doing perverted acts on someone.

    Now why would anyone want to start thinking of someone else doing sexual acts on someone else, especially if they don’t know the person, let alone have never seen that person before. THAT’s perverted. Along the lines of a “peeping Tom”. Something to think about.

  21. Aaron October 26, 2010 at 1:08 am #

    EricS, I have to agree, but allow me to submit the following admission:

    There is a neighbor boy around here who is a little developmentally challenged. But he’s sweet and is friends with my daughter and LOVES my three dogs. I was walking them last week and he caught up with me and asked if he could help. A said “but of course” and off we go. There is a small wood near my house where I like to take the dogs because I can let the big one off his leash to charge into the underbrush (he’s on tight voice control). We walk through the woods, the boy and I chat about the dogs and school and math, and we part at my front steps.

    As I walk into the house a dread thought occurred to me: with all the busybodies in my stereotypical upper-middle class district (and many anti-free range parents…oh, the stories I could tell) and all the horror stories that I read here on FRK, why, *I* could be accused of “grooming” the boy. I just took him through the woods. And I gave him a PB cookie last week after I baked them. Basically I’m a human being to him.

    But the thought came to me like a lightning flash, and suddenly I was really afraid of some idiot saying some idiotic thing and me getting in the soup for being decent and kind.

    Now with your comment *I* feel perverted for thinking that others might think that of me. How messed up is that? This kind of thinking just sort of creeps in a pollutes everything kind and decent and human about a civil society.

  22. Beth October 26, 2010 at 1:22 am #

    @WendyPinNJ, if you got permission, what would be the problem with showing photos of children’s faces full on? We’ve had this discussion here before, but certainly it’s easier for the ever-present-child-snatcher-pedophile to grab a child in person at this town street festival, then see his/her picture on a blog and try to track him/her down after the fact.

    But we also have talked about the work ethic of child-snatcher/pedophiles, so……..!!!!

  23. JeninCanada October 26, 2010 at 1:26 am #

    “Oh look! frolicking prey! Or wait. Maybe they’re frolicking false accusers?”

    This really really really bothered me. False accusations of rape or sexual assault happen, but they’re rare, just like yes, kids get kidnapped but it’s also extremely rare. Children are not heard all too often when it comes to these issues because its’ assumed they’re making it up, or the family just doesn’t want to hear it. I have heard a lot more stories from friends, both online and off, who’ve said “I wish someone had believed me.” than “I know someone who lied about being raped.” Children are taught from a very early age to not trust adults they dont’ know and to be protective of their private areas. When a child says “Mommy, a man in the locker room/lady at daycare/etc touched me ‘down there” our first reaction should be to reassure the child they’ve done nothing wrong and to BELIEVE THEM.

    Frankly, I’m disgusted by the caption on the photo. Lenore, I thought you were better than that.

  24. Vicki October 26, 2010 at 1:48 am #

    Sue — After decades of schools serving as polling sites, the school district has decided that it’s dangerous to have people coming into the schools to vote. Now the schools are closed on voting day and I have to pay for my daughter to attend day care that day. Teachers however still have to report to school. Evidiently the voters aren’t a danger to them.

  25. Rich Wilson October 26, 2010 at 1:55 am #

    Not exactly related, but we were in the mall last week, and my son was in his costume for a contest. A lady working in a store we frequent asked if we were going to Trick or Treat in the mall this year “because you know it’s SO safe here”. I never think of anything witty to say in such circumstances, and end up saying nothing because I’m too busy trying to think of something witty.

    Ironically, that same mall was on fire the very next day.
    (Galleria in Roseville CA)

  26. kcs October 26, 2010 at 1:56 am #

    Hmm. I think the caption is intended as irony. i.e.” It is just as ridiculous to think everyone on the beach sees these kids as frolicking prey as it is to think that every kid is a potential false accuser.” Main Point of caption= Seeing all children as potential false accusers is patently ridiculous.

  27. kate October 26, 2010 at 1:57 am #

    I am so thankful that I am a female. I love interacting with other people’s kids. After my years of babysitting, nannying, and teaching I am also damn good at distracting kids from impending tantrums. I can identify when a child is about to escalate, what the various cried and sounds can be, and when I can make a difference.

    I also know that parents are very often tired and in their xtress management assessments of when to deal with their kids, a little crying can be well worth not having to make another effort for their child. I get it. I also know that listening to their child cry may not be a problem for them, but I would rather not listen to it on the train or in a restaurant. It is easier for me to interact with the child, even silently, than for me to listen to the tantrum.

    So I do. I make faces, I look away and back again etc. It often works, and honestly, often the parents are grateful, if they even notice. I even get to compliment the parents on their child. It’s sad that I get to do this because I am a woman.

    I was having breakfast in a cafe with my boyfriend and next to our table was a toddler with her parents. The mother went to the bathroom and the child starting crying. The father was not able to distract his daughter, so I turned around and began my schtick. My boyfriend commented that he would never be able to do it, I explained my reasons, and the father mouthed “Thank you” to me.

    A couple days ago we were again out at a restaurant and were laughing with/at a child. My BF was having fun and mentioned that that was why people have kids, they’re fun, very expensive, entertainers. I pointed out that they also keep you up at night. :)

    It’s too bad that without me there, he is not able to even look at children. If all us people who want kids, but it’s not the right time etc., could entertain kids in our environments, how much easier would it be for parents? Whether it’s a man in a pool locker room reminding kids to not run on the tile floor or a guy on the subway distracting a baby from crying, it seems like the risk assessment would win out to ENCOURAGE everyone to interact with their kids.

    And don’t get me started on parents who don’t want teenage boys babysitting their children, even in cases when they only have sons. I really wonder, for all those parents who are so worried about their kids, do they not think about when their sons are going to be older, and whether they would want someone else treating their sons the way they treat everyone else’s grown ones.

    Everyone knows the phrase Every woman is someone’s daughter. When can we start saying that Every man is someone’s son?

  28. Emily October 26, 2010 at 2:41 am #

    I went to the gym the other week and was asked to take my 16 month old son out of the women’s locker room. I was so annoyed. He was in his stroller for heaven’s sake. The family locker room is smaller and often crowded. I hate brainless rules.

  29. Maggie October 26, 2010 at 3:02 am #

    The other day I heard the story of a young man who was at the grocery and waved at a child in a cart. When the mom and child showed up in the next aisle, he waved again. By the time he reached the third aisle, the manager asked him to leave.

    Oh, for the love of Mike.

    Elder Monster is a kid magnet. We’re not sure what it is about him, but little kids and animals catch sight of him, and proceed to glomp on him. He makes a habit of distracting fussy kids in line so their Moms can at least pay for the groceries in peace. Most of the time, the Moms in question are grateful, but every now and then, he gets the side-eye and a fast retreat.

    For someone to jump to the worst possible conclusion just because a young man is trying to be nice? It’s a good way to make sure that when you need help because your children outnumber you, everyone will pretend you aren’t there, out of fear of being accused of something untoward.

  30. EricS October 26, 2010 at 3:26 am #

    @Aaron: the question really is, did you feel like a pervert, or were you just afraid of looking like one to others? Now, I don’t know you, but I’m more inclined to believe that your a nice neighbor being a nice neighbor. Who cares what others think of you. That’s on them, one shouldn’t have to compromise their integrity and their values just because others are ignorant. Succumbing to these accusations (verbally and mentally), would just enforce these idiots to think they were right about you. And will only empower them to be even more assinine.

    I personally would not give them that satisfaction. I know my intentions aren’t harmful and is never meant to be, I treat everyone (young or old) as I was treated or am treated. And I’m willing to stand up face to face or in court should anyone question my integrity. Curious though, how do the boy’s parents feel about you being nice and acknowledging their kid? THAT is the most important part. If they are uncomfortable, best to limit your interaction. As sad as that would be. If they are totally fine with that, and you enjoy helping kids feel better about themselves and not feel shunned, then keep being that nice guy. Karma will sort it out in the end.

  31. Nicolas October 26, 2010 at 4:29 am #

    The men are right to protect themselves. The threat of accusation is real, and the consequences dire. A false accusation, whether of child molestation or adult rape, is life destroying.

  32. Flewellyn October 26, 2010 at 5:33 am #

    A false accusation, whether of child molestation or adult rape, is life destroying.

    No, it isn’t, at least not for rape. If anything, men accused of rape, true or false, get free defenders from, well, everybody.

    In fact, an actual conviction doesn’t seem to do the trick. If it did, why is there an ongoing effort to rehabilitate Mike Tyson in the public eye?

    Child sex abuse is treated a bit more seriously, mind you, but even there, it’s damn hard to convict, and there are those who defend child molestors (especially if they are Catholic priests).

  33. Beth October 26, 2010 at 6:14 am #

    Flewellyn, I can direct you to any of 3 excellent books on the Duke lacrosse case to disbuse you of the notion that “everyone” defends those accused of rape.

  34. rivqa October 26, 2010 at 7:13 am #

    Echoing @JeninCanada … education about the likelihood and realities of paedophilia occurring is one thing (ie, it’s unlikely, and more likely to be a family member or someone else known to the child than a stranger). BUT in your quest to achieve this, Lenore, please don’t fall into the trap of ignoring the fact that it does occur.

    I see free ranging as a way of respecting children. Listening to them if they have concerns is another, far more vital way, even if it’s unlikely to happen to you.

  35. Rebecca October 26, 2010 at 8:19 am #

    Flewllyn, I know a lot of Catholics and quite a few Catholic priests, and none of us defends priests who have molested children. Many of us do defend the notion that the overwhelming number of Catholic priests are not child molesters, and it is wrong to view them as if they were. Sort of like what this thread is about, about men in general.

  36. Kimberly October 26, 2010 at 10:06 am #

    SKL – my parents went through my candy with a fine tooth comb every single year. They found dangerous stuff every single year. and gave it to my sister. ;-P I’m allergic to peanuts and my sister always got the spoils.

    Sis without prompting from the parents would take my favorites out of her stash and give them to me because she thought it was unfair.

    We moved to the street we grew up on in August – that Halloween the parents of the other kids specifically asked my Mom what I could eat – and they kept some separate to hand out to me. One mom even made separate popcorn balls without peanuts for me.

    Now I have a little neighbor girl that is peanut allergic. She remembers each year that all my candy is safe for her. I always give her a little extra – because much more candy now has peanut warning than when I was a kid.

  37. Kimberly October 26, 2010 at 10:19 am #

    Sue,
    That is a shame. We had a hub bub here in Texas, a couple of election cycles ago. The election part of the government scheduled a primary, on the same day as a TAKS test.

    People were ticked off because all the schools had to be pulled from being polling places. I heard people claiming it was because of “stranger danger”. Actually it was because TEA rules say only students, staff and TEA people can be on campus during testing. (They are worried about cheating not predators.)

  38. pentamom October 26, 2010 at 10:59 am #

    “Actually it was because TEA rules say only students, staff and TEA people can be on campus during testing.”

    Not being from Texas, I’m assuming TAKS takes a handful of days, at most. That’s the way state testing is here.

    Election day comes twice a year.

    HELLO????? Just don’t schedule them so they conflict. If the state schedules election day when TAKS was scheduled, Move. The. Test. Date. How hard do they have to make things?

  39. Metanoia October 26, 2010 at 11:53 am #

    I actually recently overheard from someone I work with that at a pool which teaches kids swimming lessons they have a special changing room for the parents and children… whatever happened to mothers changing boys or girls in the girls change rooms? (and visca versa)

  40. Metanoia October 26, 2010 at 11:56 am #

    In the paper today was a piece from a local school trying to ban a new apartment block being built next door because they couldn’t stop people from watching the children play… I’d like to know what is stopping anyone currently from watching the kids play if they really wanted to. (from South Australia)

  41. MommyMitzi October 26, 2010 at 12:19 pm #

    I think this is related to one of my pet peeves–required background checks for everyone in virtually any circumstance. I live in Portland, OR where it seems things are fairly normal most of the time. I’ve never heard of kids being stopped by the police due to walking down the street by themselves, for example. People aren’t over-the-top crazy like some places. Until it comes to background checks. And then–basically it seems that conventional wisdom is that everyone is assumed to be a pedophile until proven otherwise, and the only way to prove otherwise, is to get a background check (BC). So, no one bats an eye that all the volunteers at a school need a BC, even if the only thing you’re volunteering for is to hand out popcorn at the school carnival, or make photocopies in the school office. No one questions when the school says that all spectators **should** submit to a BC before attending a school-sponsored event (until I pushed back and then, well, no, spectators don’t “officially” need them, I was told. But that is what they were saying until I questioned that ludicrous decree!). No thinks it unusual that all the parents of all the boy scouts need BCs, even if all they ever do is sit in a room with scouts and their parents during meetings! (Our scout troop has a “no drop-off” policy which means every kid has a parent with them at meetings, which means all parents are technically volunteers, which means all need a BC. Obviously overnight camping trips are a totally different scenario, but in all that teaching about responsibility and assessing of situtations and preparedness, I guess it never occurred to anyone that there just may be a slight difference between a scout master having one-on-one sleep-overs at his house and a parent supervising their child in a room FULL of other parents/children! The irony kills me!)

    So, my point is, we’ve basically progressed to the point that we absolutely assume someone is guilty of the most heinous crimes until proven otherwise. So, no men where they may see a boy. No parents volunteering in any capacity unless they’ve passed a BC.

  42. lonedattyof3 October 26, 2010 at 5:56 pm #

    Well, @JeninCanada, I actually used to believe and say things just like you stated. After I was falsely accused, I have to say that Lenore’s caption on the photo resonates “right on” with me. I look at every kid that way, now. No one regrets that more than I do, but neither can anyone convince me that it won’t happen again–no matter what you believe or say.

  43. Anna October 26, 2010 at 6:12 pm #

    OMG – These people better not visit or come to live in Italy! My 8 yrs old son’s soccer coaches are present while they shower and dress and he blow dries their hair before they leave – and not once would it have crossed my mind that this it’s not right.

  44. Donna October 26, 2010 at 7:04 pm #

    “whatever happened to mothers changing boys or girls in the girls change rooms? (and visca versa)”

    Or what happened to boys and girls changing themselves? My kid’s been able to dress herself since she was 2. Now I would not have let her go into a dressing room alone at 2 but she took herself to the restroom at the pool (inside the changing room) all summer and I think even changed on her own a couple times and she was only 4.

    But since I see mothers taking boys as old as 8 or 9 into the woman’s locker room/bathroom, I’d prefer that they have family changing rooms. Particularly puzzling at my local Y that has a kid’s only locker room for each sex.

  45. SKL October 26, 2010 at 10:30 pm #

    Our rec center asks parents to use the family changing rooms if they need to help a kid over 3 who is of the opposite sex. I personally like that policy. I don’t think preschoolers need a “free show” every time they go to the pool/gym. I also don’t think it’s a burden, as long as there are enough family changing rooms. What is the problem?

  46. Nicola October 26, 2010 at 11:18 pm #

    You know… maybe the paranoia comes from all the stupid studies done that says men think of sex every three seconds (or seven, or ten – depending on which you choose to read). Obviously they MUST deflect those thoughts onto the nearest thing with a hole they could put it in – that must mean the kids!

    Oy. Such stupidity. I’m telling you… sterilization of every human being. No more kids and the problem is solved in perpetuity.

  47. Donna October 27, 2010 at 12:07 am #

    @ SKL – I don’t think that the family changing rooms are the problem in and of themselves any more than family bathrooms are a problem. The problem that I see is in parents taking their children into family changing rooms well beyond the age in which parents are truly needed to help their children change clothes – the children get dressed all by themselves at home – because their child can’t be out of their sight for even one second.

    However, I do think that this country’s repression and overall general view that the naked body is always sexual and something to be hidden is at the root of many of these problems. Countries that have fewer issues with nakedness and sexuality in general don’t seem to have the helicopter/obsession with pedophilia that we do.

  48. SKL October 27, 2010 at 3:17 am #

    Well, lucky for me, I am a mom and only have girls, but if I was a dad with girls, or a mom with boys, I would not send them into the opposite sex changing room alone (while I changed in the other) until they were older (they are 3 & 4). Technically they “can” change, but they can also climb on the benches, run around, check out the suit spinner and hair dryers, and otherwise make nuisances of themselves. I do let them play without constant supervision, but not in a place where I could not go in there and check on / retrieve them should the need arise.

  49. Kimberly Herbert October 27, 2010 at 4:59 am #

    Pentamom –

    I agee with this

    HELLO????? Just don’t schedule them so they conflict. If the state schedules election day when TAKS was scheduled, Move. The. Test. Date. How hard do they have to make things?

    Except in the reverse. The state should have checked with the TEA and changed the primary day.

    The Testing schedule is set up 2 years in advanced – so the schools can set up their schedule a year and a little in advanced. So that the UIL can set up sports scheudles, band contest, choir contests, debates, Spelling bees.

    THere were 4 tests set up that week reading, writing, Social Studies? and alternative test for ESL students. The the next monday was a holiday. So you plan on families skipping friday to make a 4 day weekend.

    Bumping a test to the next week would have meant cancelling a state wide meet of something or the other. Complete Dominoe effect of messing up scheduled events.

    We had flooding in Houston a few years ago, and a test were rescheduled. It upset several interscholastic events and that was just 1 city area not the whole state.

  50. Sky October 27, 2010 at 5:16 am #

    Fllewellyn, I interpreted the caption differently – as mocking the idea that men have to fear that little kids are all just a bunch of false accusers lying in wait to wrongly accuse some man of molestation for.,,what purpose? Just as fear if child molesters are exaggerated, fears of false accusation is also exaggerated. Both happen, but both are rate, and so neither men nor the parents of boys should fear men and boys sharing locker rooms.

  51. Whirlwitch October 27, 2010 at 10:18 am #

    @Donna – Being able to get changed by yourself is not solely a function of age. Lose the ablist thinking, please. The family change room, in my experience, is patronized largely by older children who require help and have opposite-sex helpers. At the pool where I used to swim, one man who had become partially paralyzed attended with his wife as his carer – where would you have him change?

  52. Gail October 27, 2010 at 10:37 am #

    @Sue regarding polling stations. I,too, was thinking about this yesterday in my way to vote at a nearby church instead of at my kids’ school. What hit me though is that I’ve voted at both places over the years. I was trying to remember the pattern and it seems to me that for muncipal elections I’m always at the church, for provincial and/or federal elections I’m at the school. I do wonder about the reason though.

  53. susan2 October 27, 2010 at 10:47 am #

    I’ve used the family changing room with kids of preschool age – not because they couldn’t dress themselves, but because they (well, one of my children in particular) was/is very erratic in his behavior. I couldn’t trust him not to open every locker, hide in a locker (which he did) or run out of the locker room all over the rest of the JCC, which, believe me, the seniors there would NOT appreciate. Maybe if I was a “true” free-range parent, he would have known not to behave this way, but, alas, I never figured out how to get him to do what he was supposed to alone in the locker room. I just had to wait for him to outgrow the behavior.

  54. Kimberly October 27, 2010 at 6:34 pm #

    I sympathize with the men in the story. I stopped using the Y near my school after encountering one of my 5th grade boys in the locker room.

    This boy was one I was a little scared of. He had been moved to my room after threatening to make another teacher miscarry by beating her. (Texas law teachers can refuse to have a student in their classroom if the student has threaten or attacked them. We have a special code for absences due to being assulted by a student or parent.)

    I raised hell with the Y management because children over 4 were not supposed to be in the opposite sex’s locker room.

  55. Donna October 27, 2010 at 6:53 pm #

    @ Whirlwitch – That may indeed be YOUR experience in YOUR area. In MY experience in MY area, the family changing rooms are used mostly by parents with preschool age children (no problem) and parents with 7-10 year old boys with mothers who, based on the physical and mental abilities observed at the pool, are perfectly capable of undressing and dressing themselves (interestingly, I’ve never seen it used by fathers with daughters). I was talking about the specific later group of parents and made that very clear. Lose the thinking that everyone means insult, please.

  56. owen59 October 28, 2010 at 7:32 am #

    The Tableland Folk Festival is over for another year and I coordinated the Children’s Festival component. Took stacks of photos all with children and their parents and whoever else was around. Sometimes for politeness (if I had the camera 2 feet away in their face) I asked if it was okay. People seem cool about it, sometimes wanting to know if they can see them later. The local newspaper is replete with photos from the Children Festival. It doesn’t get better than hamming it up in front of a couple of stern 3 yo girls and pretending to eat the playdough only to be told “Don’t do that, you’ll get sick!” And of course when I fell down sick they ignored me entirely. And the adults around laughed at my expense.
    I think we must learn that there are interaction protocols among different members of a community but they are dynamic and say things like, ‘keep as much physical adult to child interactions as possible in public (line of sight)’. ‘ keep decent personal space’, ‘care for each other’. I know the animal analogy doesn’t seem to show children or adults in kind light but anyone who has trained animals know that physical spaces, developing trust through trustworthy engaging interaction, is vital to the strengthening of relationships. And many more adults need to develop mastery over these more subtle aspects of communication and physical interactions. Thus children will also learn them and become more attuned to the occasional fakeness.

  57. pentamom October 28, 2010 at 11:56 pm #

    “Bumping a test to the next week would have meant cancelling a state wide meet of something or the other. Complete Dominoe effect of messing up scheduled events. ”

    So the testing extends beyond the school day?

    In that case, I have an even better solution. Shorten the tests, or spread them over more days. Then the scheduling gets easier for everyone, all around. How can kids be expected to perform on tests that last longer than a normal school day anyway?

    As for statewide meets, don’t they usually all occur within a two-week window at the end of each sports season (late October/November, and equivalent times in the winter and spring?) It sounds like “rescheduling the tests” for a more neutral time (e.g. a matter or weeks earlier or later to a more “dead” time in the school year) shouldn’t be THAT hard.

    I don’t disagree that another option would be to reschedule the elections, but I hate how schools are expected to have no flexibility in anything, and the kind of response to change or crisis that everyone else in the world has to respond to all the time is held to be beyond the reach of schools. You see it in so many ways, all the time.

  58. Sky October 29, 2010 at 4:59 am #

    I’m puzzled by the way Rob O managed to turn a thread on boys banned from the lockeroom because of pedophilia scares into a condemnation of circumcision. Rob, you really need to watch this mompetitor video:

    http://mompetition.blogspot.com/2010/10/were-all-wieners.html

  59. ebohlman October 29, 2010 at 9:16 am #

    Sky: As a veteran of most of the forms of Internet communication (mailing lists, Usenet, Web fora, blogs) I can tell you that there’s a near 100% probability that any forum, regardless of its topic, will eventually encounter the Circumcision Jihad. I’ve seen it happen even in purely technical groups. Some people have what’s practically the textbook definition of “perseveration” on this matter. Replying to them never works; when a thread turns to circumcision, all you can do is wait for it to burn out (I was tempted to say “fall off”).

  60. Rich Wilson October 29, 2010 at 10:24 am #

    One post out of 50+ 4 days ago mentions circumcision, and now it’s a Jihad worthy of ridicule and condemnation? Ya, funny how people get upset over completely unnecessary deaths. There’s a benefit to letting your kids walk to school, even though some of them WILL be snatched by strangers. There’s a benefit to taking your kids places in your car, even though some of them WILL die in car crashes.

    There is NO benefit to cutting off a piece of a baby’s anatomy. And yet doing so WILL kill some of them.

    http://www.drmomma.org/2010/05/death-from-circumcision.html

    Ok, now that we’ve got two posts each, how about we return to the subject?

  61. Niki October 31, 2010 at 2:36 am #

    I work at a child care center in central Iowa (about as tame and safe as you can get!). Yesterday I found out that my male coworker (only one, he’s an afternoon classroom aide) is not only not allowed to monitor the girls’ bathroom without a female accompanying him, but is forbidden from standing anywhere that he might accidentally glance into the girls’ restroom. Also, if he happens to get scheduled in a classroom that does diaper changing he must leave the classroom whenever a child, male or female, is changed! As a female teacher, my job requires me to monitor the boys’ bathroom and occasionally change diapers. This young man has many of the same qualifications as I, and he has undergone the same background checks and required trainings. But, because he is male, it’s assumed that he can’t be trusted. After all, it could be that he’s merely waiting for an opportunity to molest the children!
    It made me wish I could afford to quit my job. I’m ashamed that what should be a safe, happy, fun environment for kids (and generally is!) is perpetuating the myth that no man can be trusted, and I’m ashamed to be part of it.

  62. Kimberly October 31, 2010 at 7:47 am #

    Pentamom –
    This is Texas, even if events are after school students often have to leave during the day because the drives are so long.

    I agree with you on shortening the test they also should not be a the be all end all judgment on a child’s education standing.

    In Texas the TAKS is an all day thing. It is untimed and students can take as long as they want. That means sometimes 3rd graders (8 yo) are at school till 5 or later finishing the test. It is a screwed up system.

    Last year when it came to ranking schools they actually got some sanity. If a child failed the 3rd grade TAKS with say the equivalent of a 40% then the next year improved but still failed with a 60% -both school and student were credited with improvement. The politicians didn’t like that – so next year it is either fail or pass again.

  63. enyawface November 12, 2010 at 12:49 pm #

    I recently joined a family gym. In the locker room, they have that same rule, children up to 6 may accompany their opposite gender parent in the locker room. Which is understandable, most children that age have issues giving themselves a shower and or dressing themselves. It just amazes me though, the number of boys mostly 10 and older) that go into panic mode as soon as an adult male enters the locker room. You would think that every adult male on earth is only out to get young males, and has no other thought in mind. I mean, one kid seriously tries to climb inside his locker to change when an adult walks in the room. It’s crazy. If there were really as many pedophiles as the media tries to make us believe and they were as unable to control themselves as they’d have us believe, there would be a lot more missing kids in the world, a lot more people in mental hospitals, and good behavior would be given while criminals wait to get IN jail to serve their sentence, the jails would be so full. Get off it and get off this hysteria about the naked human body. You are born naked, (until they outlaw that) and you die naked. Live with it.

  64. Steve December 29, 2010 at 3:44 am #

    I stumbled upon this thread because I am a youth worker and tomorrow we’re taking the kids on a field trip to the local swimming pool (I literally googled “locker room protocol kids”).

    It’s just going to be easier to wear my swimsuit under my clothes to work, and then discreetly stash my pants and shirt in a locker. But how many of the boys are going to do that? How many of them will I have to ‘supervise’ in the locker room? It looks like I may be the only adult male going on this trip, and so it’s sort of incumbent on me to make sure that they’re on-task in the locker room. Not running, climbing, screwing around, etc….that’s just common sense. Isn’t it?

    Or am I opening myself up to a huge volley of backlash by being the only adult alone in a room with youth? Hmmm….

  65. Steve December 29, 2010 at 3:52 am #

    @ Niki: I also volunteer through a Tutor-Mentor program in Minneapolis. The set-up is simple: we tutor neighborhood kids at our home. It’s a four-plex, with one unit acting as the “tutor center” (with desks, computers, games, a “kids’ bathroom”, a stockpile of granola bars and other snacks, etc.).

    The two units upstairs are women’s apartments, and one downstairs is for the men. We’re not allowed to have our kids *anywhere* in our unit. Obviously, the kids aren’t allowed in bedrooms, but the women can take them upstairs to their kitchens to cook, or play games in the living room. We can’t.

    It might have something to do with the fact that since we’re on the ground floor and the women are on the second floor, we are more visible from street-level. But I think it has more to do with the weird double-standard that works against us (i.e., a man with an unrelated child in his living room is up to no good).

    I understand that a lot of men have built that unfavorable reputation for the rest of us. I also understand that this is one of the few areas in the world of gender-discrimination where men get the short end of the stick. And I’m pretty ok with it….it doesn’t affect me too much since most of the interaction with kids goes on in our tutor center, anyway. But it still sometimes bugs me…

  66. Kris February 11, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

    Kimberly, while expressing your concern about a 5th grader in the woman’s locker room what if a male teacher found that same student in the men’s locker room if the locker room was coed maybe women would feel less vulnerable and threatened are you suggesting it would be okay for an aggressive female or lesbian but let us talk about the former to be in the same locker room talk about a double standard here by the way females do beat up other women.

  67. Jack M January 2, 2012 at 6:07 am #

    This is NASTY!!! ALL OF US MAKE SOMETHING OUT OF NOTHING.OW DUMB ARE PEOPLE NOT KEEPING IN CONTACT 24/7 WITH THEIR BABIES!!!! Be accountable for YOURSELF dom’t act like ONLY a village can RAISE A KID. Ya they can but then we become what we have become. Expect all MEN are guilty of this!!! WRONG most people are GOOD people. The wat the are treated CHANGES THEM!!!!!!

  68. livwildstyle February 1, 2012 at 2:12 am #

    This cracked me up, thanks!