Tuesday, July 19, 2011

There Are No Pedophiles In Sweden – Or More Likely, Who Cares?

This summer, on my Ultimate Swedish Roadtrip, we've been hitting the beach. We've been hitting the beach on the 'West Side' in Bohus and south, we've been hitting the 'East Side' in Osterlen and then heading north. At the end of all this, I could write you quite a treatise on Swedish beachside towns.

But one of the things that I still sometimes makes my jaw drop a bit, beachside - but also makes me smile, because I think it is how it should be - all of those naked little kids running along the water's edge. And there are a lot of them. Little boys and little girls, diapers' stripped off, digging in the dirt.

The kids are little ones of about one, to bigger kids of about four or five.

When the girls get a little older, they run around in just a pair of bikini bottoms, no tops. Climibing in rocks, digging in the sand, kids being kids.

My first thought was, I admit, very American. 'What about all of the pedophiles?'

And then, I realized, it wasn't really a big deal at all. There was nothing here that could be exploited, the kids were just having a great time. Even if there were pedophiles lurking in the bushes, these kids were with their parents, playing and safe. They were getting a chance to be a kid and not have to worry about anything. And so, I watched as my Swede carried away my naked LO.

I watched them take a dip in the sea. And when I was done appreciating it, I also learned what a complete PITA it is to get rid of sand from all of those normally covered up areas.


  1. It's not often PITA can be taken literally :)

    Speaking of sand in inconvenient places.. http://uploaded.joskar.com/lucidor/sand.gif

  2. As it should be. Naked kids does not equal child pornography. I ran around naked when I was a kid too, as did my siblings.

    Small girls who walk around in bikinis are just horrific. Why? Then they are really sexualized at a young age! Insane!

  3. My kid is always the most-dressed at the Swedish beach/lake with her hat and rash guard shirt and whatnot but it's not for modesty, it's for minimizing sun exposure!

  4. :) mazui

    I couldn't agree more sencha - it's one of the reasons I'm happy to be raising my kids here

    Antropologa - haven't ,you heard the sun isn't so strong up here - I don't quite buy it so we hit the beach usu!ly after 4pm

  5. As someone said: as it should be. I remember a friend of mine, a Swede in the US, took her kids, then threeish and six, to the Y for swimming classes. The big girl wore a swimsuit, but the little one just bikini bottoms, and she weren't allowed to take lessons unless she covered up. She ripped the guy a new one when he emailed her about it, about how his view sexualized the little girl so much more (what with him telling her to "cover the child up" and asking her to wear a bikini top when she wasn't going to grow breast for at least eight years.) I think she ended up relenting because she wanted the classes and nowhere else offered them, but it makes me angry to this day. It's probably the most annoying aspect of mainstream American to me, the fear of nakedness.

  6. A three year old in a bikini? Haha, as funny as it is sad.

  7. This is kind of interessting. I talked to a couple of friends yesterday about how when we were kids we walked alone or with a friend to school but we walked.Nowdays the parents drive the kids to school it seems like. I was wondering why it has changed so much since the days we were kids. Parents nowdays are afraid there might be pedofiles lurking waiting to snatch the kids one of my friends said. I thought about what you have written and how the danger of potential pedofiles exist sometimes and at other times not at all. So to Swedish parents pedofiles are not hanging around at the beach but may be around in the suburbs instead. ;-)

  8. @t-anna - interesting to hear, I wondered how that kind of situation might go. I can see most American pools having a zero tolerance topless policy for any girl out of diapers - sad as that might be.

    @Desiree - I've started to hear more and more 'worries' about possible local pedophiles as well. But I'm hoping that things don't change too much. I still see a lot of kids here walking to school, hanging out alone, and even talking to strangers. I am grateful for it - given the extraordinary paranoia in the States right now. But then again, I walked to school there as well!

  9. Love this post! I have been trying not to cover up my LO too much when we go to the pool (beach is too far away). I change her outfit by the side of the pool and make sure she is wearing a swimsut. Two pice suits on two year olds look riddiculus in my eyes. One day she did not want to wear a swimsuit so I let her go in her swim diaper (I'm sure I got weird looks - or maybe people thought she was a boy). No one said anything that day - but it was not a very busy day.

    She is the palest kid at the pool since I religiously put on spf 85 every time so that I don't feel the need for a rash guard.

  10. I don't get this whole over protection thing ether, when I was 7 i walked to school all by myself - and I lived in downtown Stockholm - without any problems what so ever; and putting a bikini on a little kid is just ridiculous - why would she need it? It would only bother her.