Local advocacy center echoes Girl Scouts stance: Don't make your daughter hug family membersSubmitted: 11/22/2017
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter

Local advocacy center echoes Girl Scouts stance: Don't make your daughter hug family members
RHINELANDER - This holiday season, you might want to tell your child to hug family members at holiday gatherings.

The Girls Scouts of the USA hopes you won't. The organization is saying daughters don't owe anyone physical affection, and that the expectation of hugs and kisses could have bad aftereffects later in life.

"I think for some people, it is a new concept," said Melissa K., the domestic violence coordinator at Tri-County Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual assault, which is based in Rhinelander.

In a post, the Girl Scouts of the USA told parents their daughters don't "owe anyone a hug. Not even at the holidays."

"It's important for kids to feel empowered and brave enough to share how they want to share," said Girls Scouts of Greater Los Angeles spokeswoman Kenya Yarbrough.

The Girl Scouts' post says the expectation of hugs "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."

On Facebook, Tara Badgley-Westphal told us, "Any form of intimacy should always be a free, and not a forced, choice. As parents we need to teach our children that they have control over their own bodies, not anyone else."

Melissa K. also pointed out the majority of sexual assaults on children come from family and friends. She said forced physical contact with family could open the door for further unwanted advances.

"They might feel, then, that they have to participate in the activity, as opposed to being able to stand up for themselves and have that boundary to say, 'No, I don't want to do that,'" said Melissa K.

"If your child doesn't want to hug Uncle Barry, then don't force them," Jake Valliere said on Facebook. "But I highly doubt that giving a hug because your mom asked you will translate into anything critical later in life."

Jennifer Jean Spencer went even further on hugs in her Facebook response.

"You've got to be kidding me?! Myself, cousins, my own kids and my cousins kids have been raised to give family members hugs when leaving," she said.

Melissa K. wants to leave parents with a different message.

"It's OK for them to say no to a hug or a kiss to a loved one, because children may show their love in another way," she said.

Click the link below to see the Girl Scouts' original post.

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