As news of sexual harassment and assault continues to flood news sites, the Girls Scouts are doing its part in helping parents understand the importance of their daughters setting boundaries. In a post on their website, the Girls Scouts tell parents that their daughters should not be forced into hugging anyone, not even relatives, especially as the holiday season arrives.

The post, posted on their website and titled “Reminder: She Doesn’t Owe Anyone a Hug. Not Even at the Holidays.”, tells parents to stop insisting that their daughters give a hug or kiss to relatives during family get-togethers during the holiday season. It critically analyzes the effects these expectations can have on your daughter in the future; telling her to give her uncle a hug because he just arrived implements the idea into her mind that she is obligated to show affection to someone because of who they are or what they give to/ do for her.

It teaches the importance of consent. Rather than urging your daughter to hug their aunt because she bought her a nice present, Girls Scouts tells parents to let their daughter decide for herself whether or not she feels comfortable with this. Different people have different boundaries when it comes to physical affection and touch, and no one should be forced out of their comfort zones.

Although the concept seems to fall into a more mature area than what typically relates to a young girl, The Girls Scouts insist that it is important for girls to learn these lessons from a young age. When she learns early on about the importance of setting boundaries for herself and understanding that no one is entitled to her and her body except for her, these same lessons will become applicable to her life in the future when it comes to understanding the total power and rights she has over her body in any situation.

With the consistent stream of sexual misconduct allegations pouring into media outlets, it has become glaringly obvious how these forms of harassment and assault have become normalized in our society. Learning to set boundaries for herself from a young age helps her understand her right to say “no” and that she should never feel guilty for it- she owes no one any form of affection and should anyone overstep these boundaries, she will not be blamed. Even with cases of pedophilia, setting boundaries helps her understand the power of the word “no” regardless of who it is directed at — even adults don’t have the rights to her body. The Girls Scouts want girls to carry these lessons with them throughout their lives, and understand that regardless of who someone is, and what they’ve done for you, what you choose to do with your body is your choice and should not be influenced by the status or actions of anyone else.

The post offers alternatives ways for girls to express themselves and communicate the same polite greeting that stay within their limits of comfort like a handshake, a high-five or a greeting with a smile.

Girls Scouts told ABC,

“Girl Scouts of the USA offers advice to girls’ parents and families on how to talk to their daughters about issues in the larger world that they hear about or that directly affect them. 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 to use when discussing this sensitive matter and other challenging topics, should they wish to do so.”

The post presents an important message for parents of young girls to understand: your daughter is not obligated to give anyone any form of physical affection; she has the right to decide for herself what she is and isn’t comfortable with, and stay within those bounds.

Image Courtesy of Al Jazeera

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