Article About Kids And Consent Sparks Debate

December 23, 2016
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A Facebook Page titled Mighty Girl recently published a meme about an article written by Katie Hetter a while back.

The article was all about not forcing her daughter (who is now 7 years old) to hug or kiss anyone – not even relatives.

In the article she openly said how she communicated the idea to her then 4-year old:

I would like you to hug Grandma, but I won’t make you do it.

She wanted her child to understand consent and to know that her body belonged to her alone!

Commentary from Irene van der Zander, co-founder of Kidpower, who offers resources to youth about personal safety and violence prevention:

“When we force children to submit to unwanted affection in order not to offend a relative or hurt a friend’s feelings, we teach them that their bodies do not really belong to them because they have to push aside their own feelings about what feels right to them,”

Mighty Girls post was shared over 170,000 times.

It included a meme of a 5-year-old girl saying

“I Am 5.

My body is my body.

Don’t force me to kiss or hug.

I am learning about consent and your support on this will help me keep myself safe for the rest of my life.”

The responses to the post were mixed, however there was one thing that people agreed upon – it’s something all parents need to think about.

One commenter wrote: 

So are you saying you should not tell your kids to hug and kiss their grandparents hello and goodbye? Or their aunt and uncles? I grew up having to give all my family members a hug or a kiss when we saw them and I grew up fine!”

While another wrote:

I am always uncomfortable when people I know insist the child give me a hug if the kid doesn’t offer it leave it. When this happens I suggest a high 5.

The bottom line is that children need to understand what consent means! The earlier they learn to grasp it, the better.

7 Comments

  1. Cyndi Romualdo Sarnataro

    December 23, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    Mike Sarnataro

  2. Lora Slavens

    December 23, 2016 at 8:27 pm

    I force them to say hello, everything else is up to them

  3. Jill La Fond

    December 24, 2016 at 4:06 am

    Yes yes yes kids should not be forced to hug or kiss anyone. No means no

  4. Mandy Oram

    December 24, 2016 at 11:34 am

    My children have been raised to greet people but the decision to invite others into their personal space is up to them. I based this decision on my experience as a young child of being forced to kiss people I either did not know or like.

  5. Karla V. Soto

    December 24, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    Andrés Mata

  6. Nancy Arizabal Paredes

    December 24, 2016 at 6:46 pm

    It should be more like teaching by example that it’s ok to be affectionate and hugging or kissing people that you know and love is wonderful…! Many cultures in the world embrace this but unfortunately because of these ideas, most kids here in the US grow up to be cold, selfish and un affectionate…

    • Sharon Asp

      December 25, 2016 at 9:20 am

      I volunteer at the elementary school and the rule is side hugs only. I hate pushing kids away.

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