HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A controversial piece of advice is coming from the Girl Scouts right before the holidays.
An article on Girl Scouts’ website advises parents not to force their daughters to hug family members because it could send the wrong message about consent and physical affection.
“Part of every healthy relationship is boundaries,” said Ellen Kyzer, President and CEO for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Central Pennsylvania. “We want girls to feel empowered to set those boundaries for themselves.”
Kyzer didn’t write the post but said they try to teach girls in their area the same message.
“As an organization, we believe that girls become women who set healthy boundaries,” she said. “We want to encourage the girls we serve and the families we work with to have open dialogues and conversations.”
The message comes at a time when more high-profile sexual assault allegations are being made public.
Kristen Houser, the chief public affairs officer of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, said boys also need to be protected.
“Prevention of these types of crimes is really about changing our culture,” she said. “That means there are hundreds of little things that we can do. This one is a really good piece of advice.”
Girl Scouts and PCAR suggest high fives or smiles as alternative interactions.
Terrance Webb, of Harrisburg, said he didn’t agree with the advice.
“A lot of families are not connected. They can’t see each other on a constant basis,” he said. “When you don’t do that, how are you ever going to connect with them if you don’t reach out and hug?”
Brandie Mitchell, also of Harrisburg, said she agreed with PCAR and Girl Scouts.
“[Children] should be obligated to have their own decisions,” she said.