e Girl Scouts of America published a blog post this week arguing that forcing children to hug relatives and family friends during the holidays could make the concept of consent confusing later in life.
“Have you ever insisted, ‘Uncle just got here — go give him a big hug!’ or ‘Auntie gave you that nice toy, go give her a kiss’ when you were worried your child might not offer affection on her own? If yes, you might want to reconsider the urge to do that in the future,” the blog post says.
The piece comes as some of the most powerful men in nearly every major industry — from Hollywood to journalism to politics — are being publicly called out for sexual harassment and assault.
In a statement Tuesday morning emailed to The Washington Post, the organization said:
The post was titled “Reminder: She Doesn’t Owe Anyone a Hug. Not Even at the Holidays.”
It argued that by consenting to a hug she doesn’t want, a young girl could get “the wrong idea about consent and physical affection.”
Many on Twitter praised the organization for its message. Actress Amber Tamblyn, one of the leading voices calling out the sexual harassment in Hollywood, shared the story with a thank you to the Girl Scouts.
Others were more skeptical:
Some experts encouraged parents to use caution when considering the Girl Scouts’ advice. New York-based psychiatrist Janet Taylor said it’s important for parents to avoid creating “a mass hysteria about physical contact with loved ones.”
“It’s never too early to start a conversation about good touch and bad touch,” Taylor told ABC. “But also we don’t want to overstep our boundaries so our children are not afraid of who they should not be afraid of.”
The Girl Scouts pointed out that the conversation might not be an obvious one — even if it is important.
“The notion of consent may seem very grown-up and like something that doesn’t pertain to children,” Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Andrea Bastiani Archibald said in the post. “But the lessons girls learn when they’re young about setting physical boundaries and expecting them to be respected last a lifetime, and can influence how she feels about herself and her body as she gets older.”