Is it illegal for children to be naked in their own backyard? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 34 Old 04-22-2013, 02:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My kids stripped down in our backyard this afternoon to play in the hose while I was finishing up cleaning the floors in the house. Honestly, I didn't know they were all fully naked (7 year old girl, 4 year old boy, and a 2 year old boy) but I wouldn't have thought it was a big deal anyway since we have big bushes on all sides and no one else was in their backyards at the time. 

 

Anyway, neighbor lady came out and called me to the fence and started with 'I don't want to offend you but it's inappropriate for your children to be naked out here where everyone can see them. At least put on some bottoms'. I was kind of shocked so just said 'Okay' and figured we'd leave it at that. Then she goes off on how her kids don't want to come outside because of us and then says it's illegal and she's going to call the police and CPS if it continues. I just responded that she could call them if she liked because it wasn't illegal to be naked in your own backyard. She had a better case with me if she'd just been honest and said it makes them uncomfortable and not tried to force me to comply by making threats.

 

Anyway, I can't find anything anywhere talking about legality of being naked in the backyard, children especially. It looks like here in Texas it's legal unless it's in full view of public? I guess I just wanted to know for sure where I stand in case CPS comes knocking. irked.gif


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#2 of 34 Old 04-22-2013, 03:42 PM
 
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I don't know about the legality, but that woman has some major, major issues. Just reading this makes me so angry! I would totally ignore her of I were you. I can't imagine the police would even respond to that, much less CPS. There are real, legitimate cases of abuse out there. This is absurd.

If I were you, I might wanna find out what the laws for harassment are. What an ignorant, ignorant woman!!!!

Sorry, she just rubbed me the wrong way.

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#3 of 34 Old 04-22-2013, 03:47 PM
 
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Looks like the laws of indecent exposure are very vague, but here is one thing I found that mentions children.

http://statelaws.findlaw.com/texas-law/texas-indecent-exposure-laws.html

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#4 of 34 Old 04-22-2013, 04:25 PM
 
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I wouldn't worry about it too much. The cops aren't going to do anything, and if she calls CPS they will come out and make sure the kids are being provided for (have clothes available to them).

Maybe tell the 7-year-old to put a suit on for water play since she's old enough to do so independently. The 4 year old I'd do the same if he's capable. But, I wouldn't worry about the 2-year-old.

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#5 of 34 Old 04-22-2013, 04:40 PM
 
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Based on the law linked above (which lists intent to arouse as necessary to be in violation, and childhood as a defense), and my own childhood experience running around naked in my grandmother's backyard in Texas, I seriously doubt this is illegal. If I were you, I'd check that random passersby can't easily see into your yard. If she or her kids are going out of their way to look into your yard, they're the ones with the problem.

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#6 of 34 Old 04-22-2013, 04:50 PM
 
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Don't know if it's illegal in your area or not, but I would bet that's it's a case for CPS just about anywhere.  Not that I think it should be, just that I bet it would be.


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#7 of 34 Old 04-22-2013, 05:10 PM
 
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Originally Posted by blessedwithboys View Post

Don't know if it's illegal in your area or not, but I would bet that's it's a case for CPS just about anywhere.  Not that I think it should be, just that I bet it would be.

What do you think the reasoning behind that is? Why would CPS want to get involved?

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#8 of 34 Old 04-22-2013, 06:07 PM
 
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Not sure if it's illegal or not but to be completely honest it would be enough that I wouldn't be willing to let my kids play outside if it was going on. That said, it happened once and it sounds like she's making a really big deal out of it. If it was happening every day I could maybe understand her reaction. I'm assuming you don't live in an area where your yard is very secluded and you do not have a privacy fence (in which case it's odd that your neighbor would be trying to see what's going on in your yard). A two year old shouldn't be a neighborhood issue. A four year old might be understandable but I'm not sure I would be ok with it. A seven year old? I would expect them to wear a bathing suit when outside.

 

Maybe you could look up laws pertaining to nude sunbathing in your area?

 

My biggest concern (more than the neighbor calling someone) would be pedophiles looking at your kids and keeping an eye on your yard to see if it will happen again. They might just watch or they might target your kids because of it, either way that's pretty disturbing. 

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#9 of 34 Old 04-22-2013, 06:22 PM
 
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I suggest checking out your city code, but I also agree that CPS might have something to say about it, especially for the seven year old regardless of the actual written laws unless one specifically allows for it.
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#10 of 34 Old 04-22-2013, 06:30 PM
 
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It better not be.  My two kiddos are in the backyard as I type, naked as the day they were born.  We do have a tall cedar fence on all sides.

 

That lady has issues.

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#11 of 34 Old 04-23-2013, 04:58 AM
 
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I'm surprised people find naked 7-year-olds offensive. Very few 7-year-olds are developing. They're still little kids.

I can't imagine why CPS would care about young children being naked in their backyard, but if I saw my kids outside naked, I'd tell them to get dressed. I can't imagine being offended by it though or not wanting my kids outside if naked kids were somewhere in their own yards outside.
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#12 of 34 Old 04-23-2013, 07:29 AM
 
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Don't know if it's illegal in your area or not, but I would bet that's it's a case for CPS just about anywhere.  Not that I think it should be, just that I bet it would be.

I'm a foster parent, and have lots of foster parent friends all over the US. I think it wouldn't even merit a report being taken. The local CPS office would have to be really really, slow.
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#13 of 34 Old 04-23-2013, 12:22 PM
 
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What do you think the reasoning behind that is? Why would CPS want to get involved?

Why? I guess for the same reasons that they investigate the "crimes"of co-sleeping or homeschooling or whatever.
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I'm a foster parent, and have lots of foster parent friends all over the US. I think it wouldn't even merit a report being taken. The local CPS office would have to be really really, slow.

In my state, every single report is investigated. They cannot legally pick and choose. Also, a cop must be present for every single initial visit. Messed up world, huh?
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#14 of 34 Old 04-23-2013, 12:38 PM
 
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I looked into something similar awhile back about laws in NYC and child nakedness in playgrounds. In the summer, my 1yo/2yo then liked to take off all of his clothes and run through the sprinkler. Most of the time this was ok, until one day an playground officer  told me i had to put pants on him. I pretended to comply but thought it was ridiculous. Most of the other parents near us shook their heads in disapproval, amusement and agreed with me. 

 

Another time my tot did the same thing in a sprinkler one evening where there were no  other people...except one older woman who expressed her disapproval.

 

It turns out, there are no specific laws relating to children and nakedness. Adults are not allowed to be naked in public areas, but they are allowed to be topless (even women apparently, can legally be topless) Children are not discussed in any case. So there is no law, so effectively, they are allowed to be naked. 

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#15 of 34 Old 04-23-2013, 02:51 PM
 
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Why? I guess for the same reasons that they investigate the "crimes"of co-sleeping or homeschooling or whatever.
In my state, every single report is investigated. They cannot legally pick and choose. Also, a cop must be present for every single initial visit. Messed up world, huh?

In Texas every single report has to be investigated, no matter how stupid. I was also told by CPS that if they were called out on me often enough, even for something that CPS EXPLICITLY told me was neither unsafe nor illegal, they'd eventually "have" to find me negligent. The caseworker even seemed to agree that this was stupid and unfair, but apparently that's the way it is. I'm not too surprised; recently CPS in my city lost a federal civil rights lawsuit after taking children away from a fit grandmother just to cover up the fact that they'd failed to investigate back when the kids were with their mom and grandma had called about mom's drug use. The caseworker in that incident had even admitted that she just had to "do something" or she'd lose her job. Then they threatened the grandmother when she complained.

Still, I think it's worth standing up and fighting for your rights as a parent and your child's rights to be naked / play at the park / whatever, even if some people at CPS act like total a-holes.
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It turns out, there are no specific laws [in NYC] relating to children and nakedness. Adults are not allowed to be naked in public areas, but they are allowed to be topless (even women apparently, can legally be topless) Children are not discussed in any case. So there is no law, so effectively, they are allowed to be naked. 

Women are allowed to go topless in Texas, too. There have been at least a couple topless political protests in Houston, and no one got arrested.

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#16 of 34 Old 04-23-2013, 03:53 PM
 
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Let me guess... She has girls, no boys, right? My guess is it's a penis thing, and possibly an age thing for your daughter. Seven is kind of on the border as far as naked-in-public appropriateness. Then again, she's NOT in public sooooo..... Get a taller fence and tell her to get a life.

 

The one thing about the OP that would make me say, "Just cover up your kids and be done with it" is that if the neighbors can see, maybe others can, too? A PP mentioned pedophiles. Not that there are SO many just wandering around, peeping into random backyards, but you certainly wouldn't want to find out that someone was watching your kids in a creepy way, especially in a place they're supposed to be safe.

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#17 of 34 Old 04-23-2013, 08:59 PM
 
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I can't imagine it is illegal in your own backyard.  Or a case for CPS.  

 

But, if she had simply said "It really makes me uncomfortable to see the kids naked in the backyard" I would have tried to respect that within reason.

 

I think i'd at least ask the 7 yr old to wear something.  I've known enough seemingly normal adults who enjoyed seeing kids around that age.  I dated a guy once that made an awkward comment about a student of mine.  He didn't say anything really odd, it was the WAY he said it.  Something along the lines, of "She looks good in tights".  Which could sound normal, but this didn't.   (the child was six)

 

I don't think it's that uncommon to have inappropriate thoughts about kids when they see them naked.  Even if they had never had such thoughts before.  Most people would never act on the thoughts, but why give them the material?  

 

I wish she hadn't gotten all overboard and over reactive though.  She made herself look like a nutcase.  

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#18 of 34 Old 04-24-2013, 07:31 AM
 
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I'm surprised people find naked 7-year-olds offensive. Very few 7-year-olds are developing. They're still little kids.

I can't imagine why CPS would care about young children being naked in their backyard, but if I saw my kids outside naked, I'd tell them to get dressed. I can't imagine being offended by it though or not wanting my kids outside if naked kids were somewhere in their own yards outside.

Interesting.... I must have grown up in a more prudish area, because I would expect people to find naked seven-year-olds offensive. My general feeling toward casual nudity is the same for all ages (it makes me uncomfortable due to my background, but I consider it my own problem, not the naked person's problem).

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#19 of 34 Old 04-24-2013, 08:05 AM
 
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I'm not a big fan.of the idea of letting the kids run around naked outside of the house, but I think its a decision for parents to make. If your neighbor doesn't want to see what goes on on your side of the property line, its up to her to put up a fence. If your naked in your home & visible through windows, its on her to close her blinds, not to ask you to close yours, so I feel like a similar policy goes for your backyard.
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#20 of 34 Old 04-24-2013, 09:07 AM
 
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Funny Face, it's been a couple days. Anything more from the neighbor?  CPS come pounding on the door?

 

Geez louise, calling CPS is ridiculous.  Have you had negative encounters with her previously? Has she decided you're a 'problem' neighbor?  It sounds like she was arguing with you in her head for while before she came over, got her dander up real good, and was ready with the CPS threat.

 

In regard to her attitude about naked children, I'll just say that she's entitled to her opinion. But if she and her kids can't avoid seeing the naked neighbor kids from their own yard, that's unfairly putting the onus on them to go around 'not looking', from their own yard, which isn't fair. 

 

But yeah, you didn't know your kids were nekkid. She simply needed to talk to you.  She didn't need to 'go there' with the CPS. eyesroll.gif


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#21 of 34 Old 04-25-2013, 07:27 AM - Thread Starter
 
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The only contact we've had previously was when the husband gave the kids some matchbox cars one day when we were all standing outside. He seemed like a nice guy.

 

I haven't heard anything more but I did notice that when her daughter was outside yesterday both parents stood on the porch staring out over the backyard, arms crossed. No idea if that had anything to do with me but it seemed a little strange.

I honestly think if they have a problem with seeing my kids naked the ultimate responsibility is on them to prevent it. I also believe that it's entirely understandable that she would come to me and explain the situation and ask if I might be able to to do something about it. She has issues with nudity, that's not my problem. Good boundaries determine what I do and recognize that it's not my place to control other people.  I can accommodate her, out of kindness, so far as I am comfortable but she has no right to demand anything of me- which was why she tried to threaten me- because she had no ground to stand on. Her attitude just sucked. Best I can understand from looking at the laws is that it's okay to be naked on private property unless people start complaining.

 

I have issues with how our society handles nudity in general and this issue only strengthens my belief. It's sad that a few kids were having a good time on a hot spring day and stripped down to their birthday suits so they could frolic in the water and it's considered obscene and I'm being threatened for it. 


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#22 of 34 Old 04-25-2013, 08:04 AM
 
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Yes, you put that very well.  You would be accommodating her out of kindness. I wouldnt accommodate her personally. I put my children before a prude neighbor who had the audacity to threaten CPS over this

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#23 of 34 Old 04-25-2013, 09:25 AM
 
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I have issues with how our society handles nudity in general and this issue only strengthens my belief. It's sad that a few kids were having a good time on a hot spring day and stripped down to their birthday suits so they could frolic in the water and it's considered obscene and I'm being threatened for it. 

I am with on with you on this. I hate that a naked child is seen as something "wrong" or "shameful" in our culture. I guess we have the Puritans to thank for that. I also don't believe there is a pedophile hiding in the bushes just waiting for a naked child to appear. The sad truth about child abuse is that it occurs mostly within families by supposed trusted caretakers. That being said, the behavior of these neighbors seems odd. Why are they so offended by naked children? Wierd. I wouldn't trust them as much as I could throw them.

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#24 of 34 Old 04-25-2013, 11:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am with on with you on this. I hate that a naked child is seen as something "wrong" or "shameful" in our culture. I guess we have the Puritans to thank for that. I also don't believe there is a pedophile hiding in the bushes just waiting for a naked child to appear. The sad truth about child abuse is that it occurs mostly within families by supposed trusted caretakers. That being said, the behavior of these neighbors seems odd. Why are they so offended by naked children? Wierd. I wouldn't trust them as much as I could throw them.

I don't think her kids were offended. I think she was using every possible reason and excuse she could think of because she was trying to force me to comply.


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#25 of 34 Old 04-25-2013, 01:39 PM
 
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Yes, when I said "they" I meant herself and her husband. I'm sure the kids were totally fine. I feel sorry for them.

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#26 of 34 Old 04-25-2013, 06:57 PM
 
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I think kids above toddler/preschool age should be clothed when outside the house, personally, but I wouldn't make a big deal out of it. That lady needs to chill. 


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#27 of 34 Old 06-25-2013, 06:11 AM
 
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I know this post is older but I was looking up subjects like this bc I'm having a similar issue... On the other end of it. I have three young boys that live behind us (3,5,7) who are outside daily during the summer completely naked. Their is no fence and my issue is that I have a 3 year old little girl. The reason I am uncomfortable is bc I don't think she needs to be seeing this. And the older she gets (and the boys get)the more inappropriate i feel it is. Last year when it was happening she was 2 and not really noticing anything. Even at 3 I understand she still doesn't completely get it but it's getting to that point. Not sure exactly how to approach it bc I'm not very confrontational.
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#28 of 34 Old 06-25-2013, 11:26 AM
 
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I know this post is older but I was looking up subjects like this bc I'm having a similar issue... On the other end of it. I have three young boys that live behind us (3,5,7) who are outside daily during the summer completely naked. Their is no fence and my issue is that I have a 3 year old little girl. The reason I am uncomfortable is bc I don't think she needs to be seeing this. And the older she gets (and the boys get)the more inappropriate i feel it is. Last year when it was happening she was 2 and not really noticing anything. Even at 3 I understand she still doesn't completely get it but it's getting to that point. Not sure exactly how to approach it bc I'm not very confrontational.

 

You say you are uncomfortable with your daughter "seeing this".  Seeing what, exactly?  That boys have a penis?  Personally, I believe that it's very important for children to know about body parts and to be able to name them correctly as they become verbal.  They might need to tell someone something really important and they need the right words to describe it.  At this age, it isn't a "sexual" thing, merely anatomy.  Now, if the children involved were nearing teenage years I would have a completely different reaction.  But just because this happening now doesn't mean that it will continue indefinitely.

 

But more importantly, I think what happens on private property and not in public is just that, private. And back yards are definitely, IMHO, private.  Front yards probably not and if this were in the front I'd probably want to see a swimsuit on the older child at least.  People have very different feelings about nakedness as you have observed and as you can tell by this thread. For me it comes down to respecting differences, but also the idea of "my house, my rules" and "your house/your rules".   My DD has a friend down the street who is Muslim and when she comes to swim she is covered from ankles to wrists.  But her parents know that its our pool and our property so my children wear swim trunks (DS) and a two piece suit (DD).  When my daughter goes there to play I make sure she is wearing pants and sleeves.

 

Unfortunately, I think your only real option if you want to keep this from your daughter is a fence.  I know they are expensive but if not seeing what your neighbors are doing is important to you then you need to take steps to change your view.

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#29 of 34 Old 06-25-2013, 11:55 AM
 
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I know this post is older but I was looking up subjects like this bc I'm having a similar issue... On the other end of it. I have three young boys that live behind us (3,5,7) who are outside daily during the summer completely naked. Their is no fence and my issue is that I have a 3 year old little girl. The reason I am uncomfortable is bc I don't think she needs to be seeing this. And the older she gets (and the boys get)the more inappropriate i feel it is. Last year when it was happening she was 2 and not really noticing anything. Even at 3 I understand she still doesn't completely get it but it's getting to that point. Not sure exactly how to approach it bc I'm not very confrontational.

 

Sounds like you're going to be saving up for a fence, Melissa! Those boys have the perfect right to wear whatever they want in their own backyard. If you (or your daughter) have issues with nudity, then buy the fence and grow the hedge.

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#30 of 34 Old 06-25-2013, 05:10 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Evan&Anna's_Mom View Post

You say you are uncomfortable with your daughter "seeing this".  Seeing what, exactly?  That boys have a penis?  Personally, I believe that it's very important for children to know about body parts and to be able to name them correctly as they become verbal.  They might need to tell someone something really important and they need the right words to describe it.  At this age, it isn't a "sexual" thing, merely anatomy.  Now, if the children involved were nearing teenage years I would have a completely different reaction.  But just because this happening now doesn't mean that it will continue indefinitely.

But more importantly, I think what happens on private property and not in public is just that, private. And back yards are definitely, IMHO, private.  Front yards probably not and if this were in the front I'd probably want to see a swimsuit on the older child at least.  People have very different feelings about nakedness as you have observed and as you can tell by this thread. For me it comes down to respecting differences, but also the idea of "my house, my rules" and "your house/your rules".   My DD has a friend down the street who is Muslim and when she comes to swim she is covered from ankles to wrists.  But her parents know that its our pool and our property so my children wear swim trunks (DS) and a two piece suit (DD).  When my daughter goes there to play I make sure she is wearing pants and sleeves.

Unfortunately, I think your only real option if you want to keep this from your daughter is a fence.  I know they are expensive but if not seeing what your neighbors are doing is important to you then you need to take steps to change your view.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evan&Anna's_Mom View Post

You say you are uncomfortable with your daughter "seeing this".  Seeing what, exactly?  That boys have a penis?  Personally, I believe that it's very important for children to know about body parts and to be able to name them correctly as they become verbal.  They might need to tell someone something really important and they need the right words to describe it.  At this age, it isn't a "sexual" thing, merely anatomy.  Now, if the children involved were nearing teenage years I would have a completely different reaction.  But just because this happening now doesn't mean that it will continue indefinitely.

But more importantly, I think what happens on private property and not in public is just that, private. And back yards are definitely, IMHO, private.  Front yards probably not and if this were in the front I'd probably want to see a swimsuit on the older child at least.  People have very different feelings about nakedness as you have observed and as you can tell by this thread. For me it comes down to respecting differences, but also the idea of "my house, my rules" and "your house/your rules".   My DD has a friend down the street who is Muslim and when she comes to swim she is covered from ankles to wrists.  But her parents know that its our pool and our property so my children wear swim trunks (DS) and a two piece suit (DD).  When my daughter goes there to play I make sure she is wearing pants and sleeves.

Unfortunately, I think your only real option if you want to keep this from your daughter is a fence.  I know they are expensive but if not seeing what your neighbors are doing is important to you then you need to take steps to change your view.
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