SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — As the holiday season approaches, the Girl Scouts of America are sending out a reminder that your young daughters, “don’t owe anyone a hug, not even at the holidays.”
According to CNN, the hugs they are referring to are of a non-sexual nature, meaning “Doting aunts and grandparents who are inclined to big embraces and cheek pinches at holiday gatherings.”
But the organization wants families to know, this kind of expectation could create unexpected emotional consequences.
"Think of it this way, telling your child that she owes someone a hug either just because she hasn't seen this person in a while or because they gave her a gift can set the stage for her questioning whether she 'owes' another person any type of physical affection when they've bought her dinner or done something else seemingly nice for her later in life," the piece reads.
Developmental Psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald said letting young girls decide when and how they want to show affection can help them set healthy boundaries later in life.
“The notion of consent may seem very grown-up and like something that doesn’t pertain to children,” Dr. Archibald said, “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. Plus, 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.”
Reactions were mixed on social media.
Many applauded the call, sharing personal stories of sexual assault from "close family friends." Others thought the organization was taking things too far.
Good on the #GirlScouts -- it should be up to the girls to decide. Forced behavior -- "c'mon, gimme a hug," or "c'mon, you're so pretty when you smile" -- is all part of how women are made to feel they can't be in charge of their own bodies. https://t.co/TIGZJVjW4j
Ready For the Latest recommendation from the Girl Scouts?They are telling Scouts to No Longer hug or kiss Grandparents or Uncles when visiting them because they could be pedophiles.??WTF? It’s Time to Shut the Girl Scouts Down. The have gone Nuts.
I come from an Italian family where hugging relatives is the norm. Encouraged even. But I have to say I support any statement that gives girls more power over their bodies. #girlscouts Girl Scouts: Stop forcing your daughter to hug family members https://t.co/7nvBIR325E