The Girl Scouts of the USA released a reminder this holiday season to parents not to force their young daughters to hug anyone.
The organization released the reminder on their website, saying that parents could be giving their daughters the “wrong idea about consent and physical affection” by asking them to give hugs.
The Girl Scouts urged parents to think twice about asking their daughters to show affection in the following scenario:
“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 organization also posted on Facebook as part of the campaign that “forced affection=not O.K.”
The organization says that these behaviors, suggesting a girl owes somebody a hug after not seeing them in awhile or because she received a nice gift from them, may spark something later in life where a girl determines whether it is okay to “owe” someone sexual favors because someone decided to take her to dinner.
“The notion of consent may seem very grown-up and like something that doesn’t pertain to children, 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,” said Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald.
The Girl Scouts as an organization is advising families to let their daughters take the lead in showing affection toward family members. While the organization said it does not want to facilitate rudeness towards family members, it is allowing Girl Scout troop leaders to counsel parents to let their daughters make that choice.