In a small number of cases, early childhood skirt-raising may lead to more overt exhibitionism in school aged girls, particularly if the behavior is encouraged by peers or adults. In such cases, the panty flashing becomes a sexually precocious activity, and may be done in either a flirtatious, unabashed manner or in a surreptitious manner in which the girl or woman exposes herself in a way in which witnesses believe she is unaware of her indecency.
Panty flashing in young girls
While no definitive study on the subject is currently available, a few general conclusions might be drawn from existing research into child sexual development. From this perspective, panty flashing might be considered a form of mild exhibitionism experienced by many little girls during early to middle childhood. Under normal conditions, it is regarded as a harmless phase of experimentation, frequently associated with attention seeking behavior or natural sexual curiosity.
Skirt-raising behavior typically starts early, as the child transitions from diapers to underwear and prior to an understanding of the relationship between clothing and modesty. At this stage, the behavior is clearly non-sexual and totally unselfconscious; preschool girls will absently hold up their dresses for various reasons, e.g. playing with their clothing, drying their faces, or simply to have something to hold in their hands. Such activities go unnoticed by most adults due to the child's age and evident naivety.
Unselfconscious panty flashing generally continues through the first few years of elementary school, during which children gain a clearer grasp of the rules governing social behavior. It is at this point that some girls move onto the 'attention-seeking' phase (often coinciding with the knowledge that some parts of the body are meant to be kept hidden). Around this time, little girls may lift their dresses to elict specific responses from others (laughter, good natured teasing, feigned shock etc). Traditional schoolgirl games such as jump-rope or leap-frog might be modified to require a player to display her panties as a kind of 'penalty'. Participants often submit to the penalty for the thrill of doing something considered "naughty", others for the mild embarrassment the action entails. In either case, the player's need for attention is gratified by her peers.
Alternately, mild exhibitionism may be employed to test the limits of acceptable behavior - if public nudity is unnacceptable, what about panty flashing? Some children will find reasons to "accidentally" reveal their underwear through various physical activities - dancing, rolling, skipping and so on. In this case, the behavior appears unintentional, thereby decreasing the likelihood of parental punishment (at least in the child's mind): if panty-flashing turns out to be unacceptable, the most she will get is a verbal reprimand. Around this time, girls will frequently stake out 'safe' zones where brief exposure is allowed: jungle gyms, monkey bars and similar playground locations. As the child's co-ordination improves, she may learn basic gymnastic skills such as turning cartwheels, flip-flops, or walking on her hands. Again, such activities provide little girls with a 'legitimate' excuse to show off their underwear in a socially acceptable manner.
As the child advances towards preadolescence, basic notions of sexual display are internalized, leading to the revelation that panty flashing is 'sexy' as well as funny. Mid-late childhood is a time of discovery for most children; natural curiosity frequently outweighs natural modesty. Although strong social taboos forbid outright nudity, little girls understand that minor exposures are still tolerated. Once again, skirt-raising behavior allows the child to experiment without fear of adult criticism. During this stage, exhibitionism will become more overt, corresponding with a growing interest in the opposite gender. Presexual roleplaying will become more pronounced as children 'rehearse' adult scenarios, engaging in games like "Doctor", "House" or "School".
Exhibitionism plays a significant role in all three. In "Doctor," the patient might be required to raise her dress for a mock examination. In "House," a daughter may be stripped to her underwear by the mother, while in 'School', the student's skirt could be turned up for a play-spanking. Significantly, such games typically involve a certain degree of submission on the part of one player: ie one child must submit to the authority of another. Roleplaying of this sort reflects the power dynamics that children are most familiar with: those in authority have the right to embarrass, hurt or humiliate those who are not.
Which brings us to the subject of panty-spanking.
Panty flashing and spanking
The desire to assert control over others appears very early in childhood, almost always before the child enters pre-school. Many toddlers will attempt to physically dominate their playmates by hitting, scratching or biting, sometimes before they have fully acquired basic language skills. This normally gives way to more acceptable interactions as the child learns to verbally express their needs and wants. At the same time, they begin to analyse the relationships of others around them, particularly the 'senior' roles occupied by adults. Children quickly come to understand that grown-ups have considerably more power than themselves, and will identify certain types of behavior as either submissive or dominant.
By the time a boy or girl enters the first grade, they can easily recognise signs of dominance or passivity in their classmates and will establish a rough pecking order accordingly. This does not necessarily lead to confrontations; at this point, rank is flexible enough to be mediated through play and make believe. Linguisticly advanced children tend to ascend the hierarchy, particularly if they can contribute fresh games and new ideas. Many studies suggest that roleplaying occupies a central position in schoolyard culture, particularly amongst little girls.
Female peergroups tend to include mixed aged interactions, with older girls mentoring - or 'mothering' - younger ones. While males usually band with boys their own age, girls typically adopt smaller 'siblings' or seek adoption by older ones. The benefits are two fold: a mixed peer group offers little girls protection from bullies (usually males), and provides older members the opportunity to develop their parenting skills. As such, mixed aged play allows girls to rehearse roles they will fulfill in later life. As spanking is percieved by many children as a fundamental aspect of parenting (even amongst those who never receive physical discipline), mock-spanking occurs in many 'mothering' games.
As noted above, mild exhibitionism figures prominently in pre-adolescent roleplaying. Displaying the panties for a 'hot bottom' is completely acceptable within an all-female group and offers a number of psychological rewards for the participants. The 'mother' gets to play a dominant role without actually intimidating anyone, because the game is totally consensual. The 'daughter' becomes the center of attention by exposing her underwear (and having her bottom smacked) in front of her friends. Observers might simply enjoy the humorous elements of the game (as a spanking is always funny if its happening to someome else).
If all participants take turns playing the 'daughter,' then each girl experiences the giggly, breathless excitement the penalty provokes. The shared 'ordeal' reinforces group bonding, as each member has endured the 'shame' and embarrassment of being spanked in public. And, as always, there is the thrill of having done something 'naughty,' and being 'punished' for it.
Exhibitionistic panty flashingskirt up before those around her.
A girl or group of girls might also do so by while sitting on a lunch bench and lavishly spreading their legs open and closed repeatedly so that boys in their class or age group might get their hormones raging.
The sly school girl who is intent on exhibiting herself can easily get away with a surreptitious exposure by quickly bending over at the waist to pick up a dropped pen or book or by leaning to one side to get something out of her desk. This type of panty flashing often exposes most of the rear of the panties. In the later case the girl's panties are often exposed for many seconds, often at close range, to any classmate sitting across from the girl.
Consequences in the past
Generally speaking, panty flashing has never been considered a serious problem in very young children, although official measures might be taken to preserve the modesty of older students, particularly those approaching puberty. For most of the Twentieth Century, school administrators took a preventative approach, such as requiring students wear bloomers, pettipants or similar covering garments. Girls might also be actively discouraged from certain gymnastic activities such as turning handsprings or cartwheels, although attitudes varied from school to school: post-war images from the Hulton Getty Archive clearly show pre-adolescent girls taking physical education classes in their underwear. Other photos suggest that there were venues in which a certain amount of 'display' was tolerated by parents and teachers alike: playgrounds, beaches, public swimming pools, even birthday parties and church picnics (one well-loved party game actually encouraged panty flashing by having girls step into a small hoop and raise it over their heads, much to the amusement of friends and classmates).
Changes seemed to have taken place around the 1960s, when mini skirts came into vogue and school dress codes were relaxed. In response to the new fashions, some schools required their students wear white cotton briefs, which were considered more acceptable than colored bikini underwear (others simply banned the wearing of miniskirts or shortened uniforms, insisting that hemlines be tailored to a 'decent' length). Such measures were frequently short-lived, due to society's constantly changing moral standards. On the other hand, this desire to regulate children's underwear has continued up to the present day, with some schools forbidding little girls wearing thong-style panties.
According to some sources, authorities in private or Christian schools enforced a more rigorous code of conduct on their pupils. Girls caught panty flashing were often punished in a manner to teach them modesty through humiliation. Teachers often reasoned that if a girl was made to stand in front of her entire class and forced to fully expose her panties, the laughter and ridicule she would endure might cure her of her immodest habit. Girls might also be punished by having their skirts pinned up, leaving their panties exposed for the rest of the day to their classmates.
Punishment might have also included having their skirts raised up to be paddled, caned or spanked in front of their classmates. In infrequent circumstances, a teacher or principal might further the girl's shame by pulling down the girl's panties while her classmates watched. This would be especially humiliating for a teenage girl in a mixed sex class, particularly if her buttocks were exposed to her classmates and she was forced to bend over for a paddling or spanking.
However, with fewer school girls wearing uniform skirts than in the past, panty flashing is becoming a rarer sight. Shameful punishments are even more rare, as nudity in school has become taboo in most Western countries.
Still, there are rare occasions, often restricted to pre-adolescents, in which a girl is thoroughly and purposely humiliated if caught panty flashing.
Anecdotal evidence indicates that some teachers (presumably female) will even pull down and remove the panties of an immodest girl and hang her underwear on the classroom chalkboard for all to see, pointing out to the embarrassed girl that's what she was essentially doing anyway.
At a private school in Maritzburg, a teacher punished one young girl who had panty-flashed two boys by making her stand on a table in front of 60 boys and girls. The teacher then completely removed the girls shorts and panties, leaving her completely exposed from the waist down to all her classmates (see forced nudity).
"I admit I took off her panties," the teacher told the Sunday Times. "But all I wanted to do was teach her that she shouldn't go around exposing herself to other children."
The girl's mother complained that her daughter was humiliated by the experience and she removed her from the school a day after the incident.
Patrick Foster, a Jacksonville, Florda, middle school teacher, decided that embarrassing girls in front of their classmates could be a creative way of teaching them modesty. The 7th grade science teacher allegedly told the class that if a girl wore a skirt short enough that he could see her underwear, he would tell the whole class what color panties she was wearing. Then, to show he meant business, he singled out one girl and embarrassed her by announcing what color undies she was wearing.
But attempts at teaching girls modesty by exposing them to boys isn't restricted to pre-teens. In a highly publicized incident at one U.S. high school, an assistant principal exposed dozens of girls to male onlookers under the pretext of checking to see that they were not wearing thong underwear when they arrived at a school dance.
"They just lifted the skirt over my head," said a humiliated Stephanie Olson, an 11th grader at Rancho Bernardo High School.
"Everyone saw everything," said Kim Teal. "It was a big peep show."
Stephanie Stewart was caught wearing a thong and was sent home, but not before male students and others saw exactly what was under her skirt.
"We were in front of the entire class, school officials were around, and even two on-campus cops," the blushing girl told ABC News' Good Morning America.
"I was just completely humiliated, you know, completely embarrassed, angered, you know, nothing like this should happen to anyone," Ashley Wydra told NBC News. Wydra's skirt, to her sudden embarrassment, was lifted up and her skimpy underwear was exposed for all present to see.
A San Diego police officer, who was providing security at the school dance, told reporters afterwards that he got to see dozens of teenage girls have their skirts lifted up, being forced to reveal what was (and in some cases, what wasn't) underneath.
"Oh my God... This is totally out of line," Officer Greg Bisesto said.
Situations in which young girls may intentionally (or unintentionally) reveal their underwear include:
- Hanging upside down from standard-issue playground equipment, such as jungle gyms or monkey bars. Climbing trees also provides opportunities for similar activities. (A girl may be involuntarily dangled upside down at the mischievous impulse of her dad or older brother.)
- Spreading their legs apart while sitting.
- Leaping from a high surface feet first, causing the girl's skirt to waft up.
- Standing over a floor air vent.
- Performing certain exercises during physical education classes, such as handstands, cartwheels, flip-flops or 'riding the bike' (the latter an almost universal practice in post-war Britain).
- Playing 'Doctor'. Usually played in private between girls and boys, the game often involves undressing and mild physical contact.
- Having the skirt pulled up by a classmate, usually female (a very common schoolyard prank with parallels to Forced nudity).
- Mock scuffles between little girls, in which one child might yank her friend's dress up over her head to induce laughter or embarrassment.
- Variations on well-known games, such as jump-rope or leap-frog, where the participant hitches up her skirt for greater mobility.
- Inducing a 'headrush' (dizziness) by spinning, twirling, or even walking on the hands for an extended period of time (sometimes with the assistance of a playmate).
- Simply raising the skirt to show off a new pair of panties (very young girls, mostly).
- Mock-spanking play, in which the child willingly exposes her pantied bottom to receive 'punishment' from a nominated partner.
- Playing 'Twister'.
- A gust of strong wind may also cause loose or pleated skirts to suddenly billow up.
It should be noted that such activities are completely normal in prepubescent children, and therefore considered completely harmless by most adults.
- "Happy Birthday Mommy". Panty flash at 2:16.
- Untitled video of girl in gym bar. Panty flash at 0:09.
- Eden's Flips. Panty flash at 0:01.
- Jenny rolling down a hill. Panty flash at 0:11.
- Girl scaling a swing set pole. Panty flash at 0:05.
- Child Forced to Strip to Teach Her a Lesson - Sunday Times, April 21, 2001
- Teacher Sees London, Teacher Sees France, Teacher May Get Suspended - Babble.com, September 29, 2008
- Vice Principal on Leave After Thong Check Reports - USA Today, May 2, 2002
- Panty Check at School Dance Sparks Uproar: Vice Principal Lifted Girls' Skirts in Crackdown on Thongs - NBC News, May 1, 2002
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