With Thanksgiving just around the corner, the Girl Scouts of America is encouraging parents not to force their daughters to hug relatives at family gatherings and their post is receiving a lot of mixed reaction on Facebook.
“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!’” said the article the organization posted online. “If yes, you might want to reconsider the urge to do that in the future.”
The online post titled, “Reminder: She Doesn’t Owe Anyone a Hug. Not Even at the Holidays,” discusses the importance of teaching young kids about real genuine affection and consent. The organization attempts to remind parents that young girls need to learn early in life what form of affection they're really comfortable with.
The post has since been shared on Facebook more than 7,000 times causing many people to start a discussion.
“No girl is going to seriously think she has to get physical with a guy to be polite, just because she had to give Aunt Betty a hug at Christmas when she was little,” commented Angelique McKowan on the Facebook post.
Another Facebook user, Susan Prestia, also commented saying, “Please, you have gone overboard. One, no one MAKES a child give a hug. Two, don’t assume physical affection leads to negative behavior. A Senior Scout.”
In an article posted on the New York Times, the Girl Scouts said that “its advice on opting out of hugs was not meant to be portrayed as a ‘license to be rude.’”
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While some Facebook users were turned off by the post, many parents joined in on the conversation to commend the Girl Scouts for posting the article.
“I agree with this. I never make my kids give hugs to anyone,” commented Neala Stevens Jones. “I just want them to know they have control of their body.”
On a regular basis, the Girl Scouts of America publishes posts on their website relevant to young girls and current events. According to the New York Times, the organization published the article in light of the recent news stories on sexual harassment.
Data from the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network says 34% of child abuse victims are related to the perpetrator and Child Protective Services says that in 2013, 47, 000 men and 5,000 women were sexual abusers toward children, both boys and girls.
The organization emphasized that their advice was meant to explain that there are other ways to show gratitude and love that don’t involve physical contact.