Girls Scouts advise girls, they don't "owe" anyone a holiday hug

Published: Nov. 24, 2017 at 4:41 PM CST
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With so many stories making headlines right now involving sexual assault or sexual misconduct, the Girl Scouts are offering up advice:

They're telling girls not to feel obligated to provide a hug or anything else if they feel uncomfortable over the holiday season.

At family holiday gatherings, or even gift exchanges, a simple hug is something that can be expected, especially from girls. That's why the Girl Scouts are advising their members any touching should be a choice and not an obligation.

Lee Snodgrass, communications director for the Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes, said, "This references the Girl Scout law, and in the Girl Scout law one of the components is to have respect for one's self, and that can happen all the way down to being a toddler. When parents can help girls establish boundaries and realize they don't owe anybody anything and they have the ability to say yes and no, and sort of own their own autonomy at an early age."

The Girl Scouts say the notion of consent is an idea that doesn't always register with children, which is why conversations about interactions, even with relatives, need to take place.

Sexual assault counselors agree.

Bryan Wright of Reach Counseling in Neenah added,"We always offer the advice to be able to say that it's healthy to offer the option to be able to say no and kind of be able to do what the article stated and be able to offer a high five or hand shake or just simple... be able to engage in a conversation without having to do the full embrace."

Counselors say the lessons girls learn at a young age can last a lifetime, and while the advice isn't to encourage anyone to be rude there shouldn't be pressure to touch.

"Obviously when friends and family are dropping in, there's going to be a lot of, you know, excitement and people happy, but if a girl draws back and isn't feeling it or feeling shy and doesn't want to do that she shouldn't be forced to," said Snodgrass.