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December 3, 2012 permalink
Nudists engage in marginalized but harmless behavior, along with vegetarians, Amish, smokers, medical marijuana users and the obese. Child protectors treat them as easy targets. Today's story is about the naturist Hardock family in Bowmanville Ontario. The parents ran a nudist bed and breakfast, screening clients to be sure they were not coming for a sexual experience. CAS, without warning, interviewed their daughter at school with lots of sexual questions. When the girl got home she asked her dad to explain some of the questions. Nine-year-old Angelina wanted to know what an erection was.
Naked Truth: Bowmanville nudists angry over how Children's Aid questioned their daughter
Parents say daughter 'interrogated' in principal's office
CLARINGTON -- For three years, Ron and Lan Hardock have quietly run a nudist bed and breakfast in Bowmanville. Then an anonymous complainant, concerned about the welfare of their two young daughters, brought Durham Children's Aid Society to their eight-year-old daughter Angelina's school.
On Thursday, Oct. 25 Angelina was called to the principal's office to speak to two strangers, her mother said. Her parents said she was scared she was in trouble as she was "interrogated" over her lunch hour and asked deeply personal questions by Durham Children's Aid Society workers, who Ms. Hardock said had done insufficient research into the nudist (or naturist) lifestyle.
"If someone goes to the school and asks your kids questions of a sexual nature, any parent would be concerned," said Mr. Hardock.
She said Angelina was uncomfortable with the workers, who reportedly asked her if she was ever naked, if her parents took pictures of naked guests, if she was ever left alone with guests and had ever been touched or been asked to touch another person's genitals. Angelina was asked if her friends knew her parents were nudists and if she ever had anyone over for sleepovers. She was asked about her younger sister Jennifer -- if she was comfortable around naked people and whether she still slept in a crib.
"They just grab your kids and ask them these (questions)," said Ms. Hardock. "I'm the mother. I do not want anybody to bother my kids. It's being violated -- our privacy. We're law-abiding citizens."
Mr. Hardock said his daughter told him she was given no choice about answering the questions or leaving the principal's office.
Durham CAS communications coordinator Andrea Maenza said via e-mail that the organization is unable to comment on any specific cases "that we may or may not be involved in" with anyone other than the family members who are directly involved.
"We do have an established protocol with all local school boards, and we are permitted by law to interview children at school," said Ms. Maenza.
The parents are also upset with school officials -- who they feel broke their trust by letting their daughter be interviewed alone, without phoning the child's parents.
"Student safety is our first priority and we have to follow the instructions of CAS," said Judy Malfara, Communications Officer for the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board.
The Hardocks say they were told by the CAS they came to the agency's attention through an anonymous complaint. After the school interview, a CAS worker arrived unannounced at their property and looked through the entire house before interviewing the parents. Ms. Hardock says she was asked about still breastfeeding her four-year-old daughter. The case worker also wanted to know about the couple's sex life while their youngest daughter slept in their room for the four months relatives were visiting from China.
After investigating the Hardocks, the CAS closed the case. The Hardocks were relieved but also angry about what their family had been put through.
"They're too powerful. I didn't do anything wrong. Why am I scared? I need to speak out," said Ms. Hardock. "They treat you already like a criminal."
Behind the parents' anger is fear. Ms. Hardock went from not knowing what the CAS was to learning her children could be taken away while at school, because there was a perceived risk of abuse and the onus would be on the parents to fight in court for their children's return.
"You should wait to see if the child has been abused. They try to jump in, in advance, and families could be impacted," said Mr. Hardock.
Mr. and Ms. Hardock wanted to officially complain about how their daughter was interviewed. Complaints against Ontario Children's Aid societies are submitted in writing to the Children's Aid Society in question, or by going to the provincial Child and Family Services Review Board. The couple would like to see CAS complaints handled by the Ontario Ombudsman, which investigates complaints against other provincial government organizations.
The Hardock's Bowmanville bed and breakfast is surrounded by a high wooden fence and gate. The naturists guests are comfortable with their bodies and like to be nude. Guests have to book at least a week in advance, provide ID and are screened by Ms. Hardock before they arrive to make sure they're not expecting a sexual environment.
"Any B and B would have the same concerns...if anything, naturist (bed and breakfasts) are safer. If someone is nude they can't hide," said Mr. Hardock. "Angelina has been around naturists most of her life. After (CAS) left, they asked about erections and I had to explain what it is. In all her years around naturists, she's never seen one."
Ms. Hardock said she doesn't force her children toward nudism. Unless it's quite hot, the little girls like wearing clothes and are dressed.
"This is very natural and they're thinking something evil," said Ms. Hardock of the CAS. "It's possible my kids now feel naturist is wrong. We raise our kids. It's our business."
Source: Metroland Durham Region