LOS ANGELES (KCBS/KCAL/CNN) – While holidays may mean hugs for many, the Girl Scouts of America is reminding parents that physical boundaries and consent are important lessons to teach, even if it means refusing hugs from relatives.
A blog post by the Girl Scouts tells parents, “She doesn’t owe anyone a hug, not even at the holidays.”
The hugs addressed here are clearly of a non-sexual nature, but according to the Girl Scouts’ post, they can influence how girls set boundaries in the future.
“Allowing children, particularly girls, the space to decide how they want to show affection,” said Kenya Yarbrough, a spokesperson for the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles.
Yarbrough says the post is a timely lesson in consent.
“It’s important for kids to feel empowered and brave enough to share how they want to share,” she said.
Girl Scout Jillian King says the post has taught her you can say “I love you” in a variety of ways.
“You don’t have to use your body to tell people that. You can just use your words,” Jillian said.
Some people on social media have accused the Girl Scouts of blowing an innocent family interaction out of proportion.
“Girl Scouts, I think you’re overreacting – very, very ridiculous,” said mother of two, Gianini Haro.
Haro says her family plans on plenty of holiday hugs.
“You don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, and you didn’t have that chance to hug and kiss somebody in your family,” she said.
Others, like former Girl Scout Barbara Blumenthal, say this is a lesson they could have used as a kid.
“Even in college and after that in working situations, I’ve been forced to hug people that I’d rather not touch me,” Blumenthal said.
The Girl Scouts suggested some alternatives to hugging in the post, including a handshake, a high-five or a thumbs-up.
For more information, read the blog post on the Girl Scouts’ website.