Aussie Children Taught to Reject Kisses, Hugs with Grandma

A woman laughs as a baby hugs and kisses her, circa 1945. (Photo by Pictorial Parade/Archive Photos/Getty Images)
Parade/Archive Photos/Getty

An Australian school program is teaching young children about the boundaries for sexual consent by explaining they have the right to reject kisses and physical contact with their grandmother.

It is part of a move to teach children about “body autonomy” and highlights concepts around sexuality and consent as they move through the school system.

The Respectful Relationships program being taught in the state of Victoria’s schools is meant to help kids learn to say no to unwanted physical contact. But in one “child-friendly” example, educator Margie Buttriss ignited a storm of controversy when she told kids they have the right to turn down kisses from their grandmas.

“We’re talking about situations such as Grandma wants to swoop in for the big sloppy kiss, and if the child doesn’t want that to happen, what can they do,” she said, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

“And they can respectfully say, ‘No thanks, Grandma, let’s have a hug instead.’ Or if it’s someone they don’t know, ‘Let’s high-five, let’s fist-bump.’ ”

Not everone is as convinced as educators regarding the merits of rejecting physical contact with direct relatives. Some took to Twitter to make their feelings known:

Primary and high school students in Australia aren’t the only ones being educated about consent – more than 30 universities have signed up to the Consent Matters course.

Some universities require their students to complete a 40-minute multiple-choice exam before getting their exam results each semester, according to the Daily Mail.

This is not the first time baby rearing has entered the public domain in Australia.

Last year a sexuality educator suggested people ask their babies for consent before changing their nappies.

Speaking to ABC News on 8 May, Deanne Carson said she works with parents from birth teaching them “to set up a culture of consent in the home” and to talk to their newborn baby saying things like “I’m going to change your nappy now, is that OK?”

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