A post on the Girl Scouts’ website has gone viral after suggesting parents should not force their daughters into hugging people, according to WRAL.
WRAL on Tuesday reported that the organization’s article cautions that girls could get the wrong message about consent and physical affection if they are ordered to give hugs.
The Girl Scouts’ Nov. 2 Facebook post linking to the article had earned 3,600 likes, 6,900 shares and 285 comments as of Tuesday afternoon.
“Think of it this way, telling your child 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 article states.
“Give your girl the space to decide when and how she wants to show affection,” it adds.
“Of course, many children may naturally want to hug and kiss family members, friends, and neighbors, and that’s lovely – but if your daughter is reticent, don’t force her.”
The Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist also explained why the concept may prove important to children as they become adults.
“The notion of consent may seem very grown-up and like something that doesn’t pertain to children,” Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald said.
“But the lessons girl 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,” she added.
“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.”
The article comes as America engages in robust national debate on issues including consent, sexual conduct and gender roles.
Multiple men of power in entertainment, politics and the media this year have been accused of sexual misconduct following watershed cultural changes on publicly discussing the topic.