Moral Panics

Fear of perverts watching gymnastics


Moral Panics Index



Gymnastics New Zealand
Paedophile Hysteria . Index

The Press
September 25 2006

Crackdown on cameras at gymnastics champs
by Sean Scanlon

The risk of paedophiles taking unsavoury photographs of young athletes has prompted Gymnastics New Zealand to crack down on camera use at its national championships in Christchurch this week.

Gymnastics New Zealand will register all spectator cameras taken into its national championships and label them because of concerns about paedophiles.

The championships will start at the Westpac Centre on Wednesday, with many younger athletes part of the 700-strong competition.

A competition spokesman, Dave Worsley, said no specific incident prompted the push to have all cameras, including picture-capable cellphones, registered and labelled on entry.

However, it was clear there was a risk. Gymnastics New Zealand held the right to confiscate cameras or wipe images that were considered "unsavoury", he said.

Many city councils and gyms around New Zealand already ban the use of cameras in swimming and other facilities because of concerns about inappropriate images being used by paedophiles.

SAFE sexual offenders programme director John McCarthy said there was a small risk paedophiles could attend the event.

He understood Gymnastic New Zealand's thinking, but it seemed overcautious.

"Sadly, people who are interested in explicit images of children are also attracted by normal images of children," he said.

"That can happen anywhere, any time, and to a large extent many people are looking in the wrong place for the people who pose a threat."

McCarthy said an overwhelming majority of sexual abuse against children occurred in the family environment, or was committed by people known to the child.

"I can understand what they (Gymnastics New Zealand) are trying to do. Images of children which may be sexually interesting to some people can find their way onto the internet." McCarthy said people with paedophiliac tendencies could find child gymnastics appealing.

Gymnastics New Zealand chief executive Jack Ralston said the rules were required to protect competitors who were as young as seven.

Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust manager Ken Clearwater said he supported Gymnastics New Zealand, but "it's damn sad it has got to that stage".

"Once they put them (photos) on the internet it is pretty bad. What about the poor children?

"You usually find most paedophiles or men that go on to sexually offend have images of children from the internet," Clearwater said.