Girl Scouts warn parents not to force hugs on children

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Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, a developmental psychologist at the Girl Scouts, said the notion of consent might appear to be a "very grown-up" topic, but how girls establish physical boundaries and the expectation that they be respected can impact how she sees herself into adulthood.

"If there is a family that hugs when they greet other family members, or if they are a family that shakes hands, however they greet each other, I think that's what the child should likely do", says Frazier.

KSFY News reached out to Girl Scouts of US and Girl Scouts - Dakota Horizons for comment on the blog post, but haven't heard back yet.

Crystal Frazier Psychologist UT Health Northeast
Crystal Frazier Psychologist UT Health Northeast

However, Dr Janet Taylor, a NY psychiatrist, warned against "mass hysteria" and said it was important not to make children "afraid of who they should not be afraid of". The organization asked parents not to pressure young girls into hugging loved ones.

She says girls have to understand that a hug is a gift - not something you have to do or you're forced to do.

In today's #MeToo world, it has come down to this: As families gather for Thanksgiving dinners across the nation on Thursday the ol' "Uncle Stanley just got here - go give him a big hug!" is now taboo. "If yes, you might want to reconsider the urge to do that in the future".

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The advice comes as powerful men from Hollywood to politics have been shaken by allegations of sexual misconduct, disgracing the likes of mogul Harvey Weinstein and actor Kevin Spacey, and sparking a national discourse about consent.

"I don't know, we have a four-year-old so I think we don't want to encourage her", she said.

About 1.8 million girls are in the Girl Scouts program, according to the site.

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"Given our expertise in healthy relationship development for girls, and in light of recent news stories about sexual harassment, we are proud to provide girls' parents and caregivers with age-appropriate guidance", it said in a statement. "I just caution parents about limiting family attachment and that kind of loving space that a lot of time only happens at the holidays". The group posted on its website and on its Facebook page an admonishment to parents and guardians that they could be scarring their children.

Lt. Myers-Mitchell said most sexual assaults occur with someone the victim knows or has been acquainted with in the past and that means it could be a family member or close friend of the family.

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