The Girls Scouts of the United States of America organization issued a stern warning to parents ahead of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday: Don’t ask her your daughters to hug relatives, or you could be sending them “the wrong idea about consent and physical affection.”
On Tuesday, the club sent out a tweet saying “Forced affection = Not O.K.” with a “reminder”: “She doesn’t owe anyone a hug. Not even at the holidays.” The message included a link to an article on the Girl Scouts website, explaining further that such a request can be damaging.
“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?” the article asked. “If yes, you might want to reconsider the urge to do that in the future.”
The article went on to quote Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald who explained, “The notion of consent may seem very grown-up and like something that doesn’t pertain to children, but lessons girls learn when you’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 get older.”
“Plus,” Dr. Archibald continued, “sadly, we know that some adults prey on children, and teaching your daughter about consent early on can help her understand her rights, know when lines are being crossed, and when to go to you for help.”
Not all of GSUSA’s followers on Twitter agreed. One user — obviously picking up on the progressive messaging — wrote, “Let me first say that I’m a left leaning centrist Democrat and I voted for [Bernie] Sanders. With that said this is just stupid. There’s nothing wrong with telling a son or daughter to give Grandma and Grandpa a hug when they come to see them for the holidays.”
CNN reported that their own Katie Hetter wrote an article in 2015 making the same argument as GSUSA on the topic, and one reader responded, “I raised my children this way over 20 years ago. Why did we do this? Because I had been a victim of sexual abuse by a family ‘friend’ for many years as a child. I did not want my children to think they had to hug or touch others unless the contact was wanted.”
But, the outlet noted that other folks disagreed, with one writing, “You’re damn right you’re going to hug the women who gave your mother/father life so you could have life.”