Saturday, October 4, 2008

Henson's in the news again, and not in a good way

What a surprise.

His little helper, David Marr, on a book promotion trail, has perhaps told too much.

At Blair's all the info and all the links. If you have trouble with using Blair's, here's some links:
Marr wrote this piece, trying to defend Henson (and promoting his new book on the Henson case).
The search for models has been a big part of his life for 30 years. Since the 1980s, most of his shows have fitted a pattern of faces and bodies interspersed with landscapes and buildings.

Most of his models come from his own world. "Sometimes it's a friend, or the kids of a friend, or a friend of a friend. Sometimes it can be a friend of a relative.

Sometimes you are walking down the street or you are in a restaurant and you see someone. There is this face. All you can do is give them a card and say: 'Look, just Google me, and I'd be very interested in photographing your daughter or son.' "

Henson was having trouble finding the models he needed for the Sydney exhibition due to open in May. Friends introduced him to the principal of a Melbourne primary school. This wasn't, by any means, the first time he had been invited into schools in his search for models.

"I went in there, had a look around at lunchtime, just wandered around while everyone was having their lunch. I saw this boy, and I saw a girl too, actually, and I thought they would be great and the principal said, 'Fine, I will give the parents a ring and let you know.' So the ball is always in their court. The girl's parents went, 'Oh no, we don't think it's for us' and the boy's parents said, 'Yes, sure.' So that was that. That is how I started working with him." more
Telegraph item with more links.

Today's Australian:

In the book, Henson says he takes photographs only with the "willing participation and full control" of the family.

The child then makes the final decision. He also points out that children have an ability to detect unsavoury people. "Kids can smell a rat, you know, and we just don't give them credit for it.

"If there is a dodgy teacher in the school, kids will know about it ... It's all part of the way in which they are naturally equipped to be resilient. Babies are tough."
So tell me, how do paedophiles and other unsavoury characters get at children if children have this sense of danger and unsavoury characters?

It's well worth a read, starting at Blair's, to show how naive people can be.


bruce said...

To get a job as a nurse or teacher or anything involving children, even to be a community volunteer, one now has to have a national police clearance. The reason it seems is that abusive types have insinuated themselves into such positions to gain access to their targets, and multiple offenders would move around the country to offend again.

Years ago I don't think we realised just how insidious and slippery these type of people are, and from such cases I'm thinking we still have a way to go to really see what webs of deceit are out there.

Hardcore leftists I know are the ones most aware of and worried about this problem, seeing how their own kids are targeted by 'progressive' types who insinuate themselves into families. Marr is a fool, he does not realise what he is endorsing or how it will explode in his face. It is not a rightwing/leftist issue, opposition to this type of thing is bipartisan. The legal problem may be where to draw the line, there are those who are just voyeurs but not actual offenders. Creepy, but if we ban them, then as in UK it will not be acceptable for a father to take a pic of his own children in a park. One law for all.

bruce said...

Actually scratch that, not 'one law for all' but it's just impossible to objectively distinguish the good and bad in public.

Bad people often call themselves 'uncles' for example.

kae said...

"The legal problem may be where to draw the line, there are those who are just voyeurs but not actual offenders."

Sorry, Bruce, I must disagree. If they are 'just voyeurs' they are still offenders

It's like saying that someone who doesn't fiddle with kiddies, but does look at kiddie porn isn't offending. Where does the kiddie porn come from?

I really don't know how it can be solved, but being aware that it's happening is a start. Parents should be able to photograph their children at the school swimming carnival, etcetera, at the beach and in other normal situations.

I have a friend whose daughter was molested from the age of six. It was her uncle, her father’s brother. He served five years. His wife stuck by him through it all, until he admitted that he had molested this child (who was then in her mid-teens, and he did not admit to any other molestation charges against him of other little girls), after his guilty plea his wife cut him loose. He has two little girls with his wife. Before he was out of prison he was already grooming another woman and her daughter/s.

Someone like Hensen and his commercial, profit-making "art" should be seriously investigated. Who buys photographs of sexualised pre-pubescent and pubescent children? This is what they are, after all. It is wrong. It sends all the wrong messages. I realise that to a paedophile any picture of a child is likely to excite, but the production of deliberate provocative pictures of children and calling those pictures art is very, very wrong. It is normalising the idea that children are sexual and sensual. That's not a normal idea. Not at all.

bruce said...

Just on the legal issues, what I'm getting at is you could end up expecting police to be mind-readers ( how do you know if someone is or isn't 'voyeuring'? It's a state of mind. )

And you've given an example of how complex the legal side has to be:

Obviously if a stranger takes photos of a kid in public, that's suspect ( but if asked he'll say 'I'm the kid's uncle' and how far do police have to go there - everyone carry ID in public? 'Licensed to be with children'),

But, as you point out, abuse is often actually committed by relatives.

So, as they have in the UK, ban anyone, even Dads (and Mums) taking pics of kids in public, but then everyone screams 'Tyrants!'.

I'm saying the legal implications are difficult, and people will not be happy either way - leaving it as it is or doing something about it.

bruce said...

I'm kicking myself for not doing a Law degree. I had high enough grades to get in. I would have been good at it. Now I think I'm past all that study.

kae said...

Hi Bruce
How old are you? If it's a passion you would probably love it... A friend of mine who is two years older than I am always wanted to teach. She got to an age when she got into teaching, did the degree for, I think, three years, after scrimping most of her life to bring up her kids almost on her own (and on her own for the last fifteen years or so), pay off her mortgage, etcetera. Now she's the principal of a small school in south western NSW and just loves her work. She cares about the children and still teaches. She's also earning more money than she's ever earnt in her life, doing something that she loves. The only draw back is that in the small town she mustn't express any opinion or view about politics etcetera, as she cannot be seen to be biased.

Now, about your other comment. It is a vexed problem. However, I think you'll find that much photography at school events has been curtailed even in Australia, I've heard of it happening up here in Qld.

There's no way to stop paedophiles from getting their jollies from children's catalogues. However, the Hensen issue is wrong, wrong, wrong. Trawling a primary school to find child models? Who gave him permission? They had no right.

His naked child photography is wrong, too. It's sexualising the children which probably, possibly may not be attractive to paedophiles (who knows?), but it does blur the edges of what is sensual and acceptable in society.

The child abuse already foisted on children today with AGW and so on is bad enough. They should be allowed to stay children.

As a child I was discouraged from watching television news and similar programmes. That's the way it should be. Let children be children. Let adults worry about adult problems, children will be worrying about them soon enough.

Sorry, Bruce, what were you saying?


kae said...


"She got to an age when she got into teaching"

She reached an age when she realised that she needed to do something with her life, the children were mostly self-sufficient, and she decided that she wanted to teach and so got into teaching...