Cuddles at Christmas time may no longer be taken for granted

A growing movement allowing children to decide

The vanishing of the Christmas cuddle

Don’t be surprised if Christmas family get-togethers feel a little less loving this year as parents increasingly drop the insistence on their young children to kiss and hug older relatives they rarely see.

With stories swirling around the media of rogue priests, scout leaders, teachers, celebrities, stepmothers and stepfathers being accused of paedophilia, many parents are questioning the habit of encouraging their sons and daughters to sit on crusty, old ‘Uncle Cecil’s’ knee for a kiss and cuddle.

Uncle Cecil may be a harmless fellow, but if he rarely makes an appearance in children’s lives and insists on hugs at family events, it is possible that the message being picked up by young ones is that it is okay to be affectionate with someone you don’t really know.

In a bid to protect their children from potentially finding themselves in a situation where they receive unwanted attention, especially of the sexual kind, parents are telling them it is okay to say ‘no’ to a cuddle.

Girl Guides Australia supports its US sister association’s advocacy against forcing young girls to be affectionate as a matter of course and regularly republishes views from their experts.

“The notion of consent may seem very grown-up and like something that doesn’t pertain to children,” says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr Andrea Bastiani Archibald, “but the lessons girls learn when they’re young about setting physical boundaries and expecting them to be respected last a lifetime, and can influence how she feels about herself and her body as she gets older.

“Plus, sadly, we know that some adults prey on children, and teaching your daughter about consent early on can help her understand her rights, know when lines are being crossed, and when to go to you for help. Give your girl the space to decide when and how she wants to show affection.”

The growing awareness to re-educate parents about allowing their children to choose who they are affectionate with is being fuelled by US organisations such as Kidpower Teenpower Fullpower International (KTFI) and Heartland Alliance.

"When we force children to submit to unwanted affection in order not to offend a relative or hurt a friend's feelings, we teach them that their bodies do not really belong to them because they have to push aside their own feelings about what feels right to them," said KTFI executive director Irene van der Zande in a CNN interview.

In the same article, mental health expert Ursula Wagner of Heartland Alliance goes further: “Forcing children to touch people when they don't want to leaves them vulnerable to sexual abusers, most of whom are people known to the children they abuse.” She claims none of the child victims of sexual abuse or assault she has counselled was attacked by strangers.

Parenting blogger Jennifer Lehr asserts that ordering children to kiss or hug an adult they don't want to touch teaches them to use their body to please you or someone else in authority or, really, anyone.

"The message a child gets is that not only is another person's emotional state their responsibility but that they must also sacrifice their own bodies to buoy another's ego or satisfy their desire for love or affection," Ms Lehr said.

While these views may seem far-fetched, hurtful and rude to most elderly relatives, the fact remains that in the wake of revelations about widespread sexual preying on children, our society is rethinking the types of intergenerational relationships which were once considered normal.

If you find yourself in a situation where a young relative does not want a kiss or a hug, offer a high-five or handshake instead. This will diffuse the tension and respect the child’s refusal of  intimacy while still providing an opportunity to greet and acknowledge each other.

Do you expect young family members to cuddle you? How would you react if one of them decided they did not want to hug or kiss anymore? Do young children have a right to refuse physical contact with certain members of the family?

RELATED ARTICLES





    COMMENTS

    To make a comment, please register or login
    jonboy
    22nd Dec 2017
    10:59am
    Yeah the world now sucks as Males, especially Oldies are now percieved as Perverts!!
    And all because of the publicity the real bad bastards have gained.
    I cant even Goo Goo a sweet bub in a shopping centre anymore as I get villified as a predator.
    Surely (many) Adults can observe and reassure themselves when people do something.
    Old Man
    22nd Dec 2017
    11:15am
    I know how you feel jonboy, I'm a grandfather and some of my grandkids are interstate so if I see a little one who looks like one of my grandkids, I tend to smile at them. Some of the responses from mums almost make me go and have a wash as I feel as dirty as their looks. Our kids, and subsequently our grandkids, have always been taught that if mum or dad hug someone then it's OK for the kids to do it too.
    Maggie
    22nd Dec 2017
    12:02pm
    It is sad indeed that children have to be taught how to protect themselves, and understandable that parents are suspicious of all strangers.

    Try not to be hurt. If you love children, you will want them to be protected from anything evil, and if they need to avoid strangers - male and female, so be it. Unfortunately this is a much larger problem than we generally hear about.

    And by the way, everyone knows that there are pedophiles of all ages and sexes so reticence is not just aimed at you because you are older.
    Crafty
    22nd Dec 2017
    12:24pm
    I’m female and I love the babies, but I always make comments to the mum or dad. Everyone likes to be told their baby is cute.
    No one should touch someone else’s kid.
    As for my beautiful granddaughter (16 months), she head butted me when I went in for a kiss lol. Hurt like hell, but she only got upset when her dad went crook on her. She has a forehead of steel. I don’t see her much so in future, I’ll wait til she comes to me. My head will thank me.
    MarLin
    22nd Dec 2017
    1:13pm
    Love the headbutt story, Crafty! We sponsor an orphanage in Vietnam and for many years now I've reluctantly avoided touching any of the kids, even in the presence of my wife or the nuns. The poor kids would dearly love a hug from someone and the nuns can't do it all, but I can't help thinking that I could be setting a bad example that might leave them open to the vile b*ggers who prey on little kids, especially in poor countries like VN.
    As Bozo the orange White House clown would tweet: "Sad"! And indeed it is - but also a reflection of the way our society has been allowed to degenerate, at least partly by our own inaction!
    Knows-a-lot
    22nd Dec 2017
    3:10pm
    Being hugged by the bloke in your photograph would scar a kid for life. I'm sure they'd have nightmares.
    MarLin
    23rd Dec 2017
    10:25am
    Interesting (unwelcome) comment from someone who says further down: "The world sorely needs more warmth and genuine affection, not less."
    Suggest your New Year's resolution could be "Practice what you preach"!
    Anonymous
    26th Dec 2017
    9:46am
    Linhmartin, I respect your desire to protect those kids, but I can tell you from experience that not being hugged does horrendous harm to a child. They NEED love. And from my observation, many of the vast number of FALSE claims of sexual abuse come from people who suffered rejection and deprivation of love in childhood. Finding a balance is a challenge, but depriving children of hugs is NOT the answer.
    KB
    27th Dec 2017
    2:15pm
    Hi linhmartin I understand the reason for your reluctance but children thrive on hugs, I know a lady who used to help out in an orphanage, Babies that were lifeless responded to hug I see no reason why you could not have hugged the children in front of other adults, Children at school are not allowed to hug their friends Society is teaching children to be robots, In times of disaster total strangers are often seen hugging one another. AFL football players and hug one another. Why are they allowed to hug each other while children are not allowed to/ I think that parents should encourage not pressure children to hug loved relations because they nay be shy. Children and teenagers should be taught courtesy. Teenagers prefer handshakes Not all grandparents are bad people. Shane that pedophiles are ruining innoceme
    JAID
    27th Dec 2017
    2:20pm
    Compelling argument KB. I don't agree with encouraging kids to hug etc. as you do but if two (or more)r wish to do either, I am all for that.

    Just keep it off the soccer field please.
    JAID
    27th Dec 2017
    2:30pm
    Rainey, it shouldn't be an issue. If a kid seeks for a hug and you feel like it, great.

    Two people can kind of know the cool from the not so cool.

    Linhmartin, caution is wise but if your primary caution is to be open and public how much more could reasonably be required.
    Anonymous
    27th Dec 2017
    5:21pm
    Ah, but it IS an issue, Jaid. So many children who have been traumatized or deeply hurt will reject touch when they want it desperately. They don't seek what they crave most, because they have lost the ability to trust. They may NEED someone sufficiently patient and persistent to break through that barrier they put up, and often hugging a child who at first resists or pulls away will achieve that break-through.
    JAID
    27th Dec 2017
    7:30pm
    You are far more the kind guiding parent type than I Rainey, and good for you. Touching others in any way seems a matter of instantaneous all-party consent for me male or female, young or old. I have overlooked the medicinal, mental health and general educative function. Likely all my life...but my kids get plenty of cuddles.
    Anonymous
    27th Dec 2017
    9:27pm
    Not the kind guiding parent type, Jaid. Just experienced in ways I'd rather not be. I grew up an orphan. I lived among and worked with children who were abused, violated in hideous ways, orphaned in tragic circumstances, stolen from their families and kept separated from loved ones for decades, and even some who were totally abandoned by the person who should have loved and protected them most. I now spend a great deal of time with adults who have never experienced love; people who would have given anything for a genuine hug, but who most likely would have pulled away in fear from anyone who tried to touch them. Sadly, many will never learn to trust.

    I'm afraid as much as I respect and admire Linhmartin, I would be hugging those kids every day. I would be desperately trying to reach out and convince them that they are worthy of love, and that there are people in the world with genuine love to give. I've seen too much evidence of the harm that comes from feeling unloved and unworthy of love. And I firmly believe that those who crave affection, and don't receive it, are the most likely targets for paedophiles - not those who are compelled to tolerate Aunty XXX's thorny hugs and Uncle YYY's beery kisses.
    MarLin
    28th Dec 2017
    10:29am
    Thanks Rainey, and others. Perhaps I've given too much credence to the possibility of pedophile activity - although you hopefully understand there are far more (western pedophiles, sex tourists, etc) in SE Asia than we're likely to encounter on the streets of Australia.
    In retrospect, the pedophiles may smarm their way into orphanages on the pretence of donating money for the kids, but the nuns are usually around to keep an eye on things so they shouldn't usually be able to indulge their deviant whims - so I've decided to move towards the hugs on our next visit , but slowly, slowly, and always in the presence of my wife and at least one nun!
    Anonymous
    28th Dec 2017
    11:51am
    I'm delighted to read that, linhmartin. And congratulations on wanting to help these poor needy children.

    Yes, paedophiles and sex tourists do seem to flock to Asia, but trust me when I say the child who feels unloved and who craves the hugs he/she never received when they were most needed is the ripest target for an abuser. When a child has desperately craved a hug and not received it, they welcome that affectionate touch regardless of their trust or otherwise of the giver, and if the giver causes discomfort by going too far, the child will very often just tolerate that as part of the price of finally being loved.

    I have seen kids resort to very unhealthy relationships, tolerate abusive partners, engage in crime or addiction thinking it's a way to please a partner or get attention from someone they admire, enter into homosexual relationships, etc., all because they were denied affection when they needed it and they are so desperate for hugs and other physical signs of approval and affection that they will pay almost any price.

    It's always wise to treat softly, and to ensure there are appropriate witnesses present to attest that your conduct was proper. Sounds like we need a lot more like you in this sad world, linhmartin. Lucky kids in the orphanage you sponsor.
    MarLin
    28th Dec 2017
    12:51pm
    Thanks Rainey, but we're actually the lucky ones because we get to see the undisguised pleasure on the kids' faces when we arrive at the orphanage gate - and when we take them all for a trip to the beach they're just beside themselves with delight, which is a beautiful thing to see!
    The very idea of some slimy pedophile taking advantage of their innocent trust is incredibly depressing - and all 'normal' people should be ever vigilant to minimise the chances of it ever happening amongst us!
    Knows-a-lot
    28th Dec 2017
    1:19pm
    If you can afford to sponsor an orphanage and travel to and from overseas, then you should not be receiving an old-age pension - which is or those who truly need it, not rich bludgers like you.
    Anonymous
    28th Dec 2017
    6:35pm
    Knows-a-lot, I haven't seen any evidence that linhmartin is receiving an old age pension, but if he is, he clearly has a legal entitlement as assessed by Centrelink. I find the current rules extremely unfair, illogical, economically harmful, costly to administer, and generally harmful to the nation as a whole, but linhmartin has as much right to claim under those rules as anyone else, and is to be greatly admired for his chosen use of the income he receives. So many others use it selfishly!

    The world needs more kind-hearted, caring people, and I, for one, am happy to pay tax to enable people like linhmartin to be charitable to children in need. Goodness, our government hands out to rich fat-cats to build huge superannuation accounts for a luxury retirement. It hands out to multi-national corporates who dodge their ethical obligations to pay tax on massive profits. It hands out to filthy-rich politicians and inept bureaucrats whose incompetence destroys lives. And you object to a pittance being paid to someone with a huge heart and a mission to help little children in dire need?

    Linhmartin is no 'rich bludger'. Australia is full of them, but they are NOT sponsoring orphanages or travelling overseas to give a little love to underprivileged children.
    MarLin
    28th Dec 2017
    8:58pm
    Thanks Rainey. This 'Knows-a-lot' character seems to have an axe to grind with me in particular (see his/her initial reply to my initial post above). I have no idea why, because with typical cowardice he/she chooses instead to skirt around the issue with unsubstantiated and off-topic allegations.
    From previous experience with several others who frequent this site to air their grievances rather than make positive contributions to the question being asked, I'd say he/she is best ignored, because we're not going to hear anything useful!
    Anonymous
    28th Dec 2017
    10:07pm
    Wow! I just read that earlier comment, linhmartin! Mind-boggling that people can behave so badly.

    Keep on keeping on. The world is a better place because there are people like you in it.
    Knows-a-lot
    1st Jan 2018
    2:40pm
    I had an unfortunate encounter with linhmartin in another thread. He is indeed a pensioner, and a greedy one at that. He can afford overseas travel but still wants to get the pension. That makes him a bludger.

    "The world is a better place because there are people like you in it."

    NO - the very opposite, actually.
    Anonymous
    2nd Jan 2018
    1:49pm
    ''Trained killer'' sending threats in private messages, linhmartin? I hope he is banned. That's appalling.

    Knows-a-lot, I don't care if linhmartin is a pensioner. If he is legally entitled to a pension and he can manage his affairs to be charitable to children in desperate need, good for him. And yes, we do need more like him in this sad world. There are far too many living in flash houses and taking handouts, or faking disability. The system invites rorts and rewards cheats and manipulators, and oddly the loudest mouths here, who claim to want to reduce economic waste, continue to endorse and support the system and scream nastiy insults at anyone who suggests sensible, logical reform.

    I doubt linhmartin is a cheat or a manipulator, because it would be totally out of character for a cheat or manipulator to be sponsoring an orphanage and caring about disadvantaged children. So where his income comes from is irrelevant, but what he does with it is admirable indeed.

    BTW. I agree wholeheartedly that your chosen pseudonym is inappropriate, because I've seen multiple examples that evidence you know very little, if anything.
    MarLin
    2nd Jan 2018
    3:02pm
    Thanks Rainey. It's a sad but true fact that this K-a-l character isn't the only one who is so eaten up with envy and hate that he/she automatically assumes everyone is rorting the system. For the benefit of those people, and the others who automatically scream "Foul" whenever o/s travel is mentioned, I would just like to point out that my wife and I live a happy but frugal life in a small apartment, don't drink alcohol, smoke, go to the movies or restaurants and don't own a car - all so we can afford to fly once a year to visit her family in Vietnam (the return cost of which is usually cheaper than a one-way flight to Perth), where we live rent-free, eat meals that are a fraction of the cost of food in Australia, and travel on pushbikes or buses (25c per trip), so we can afford to help her family when necessary (her father and brother passed away within 6 months of each other in 2017 and we managed to pay for the cremation costs that the family couldn't afford) - and whatever we can save then goes to the orphanage and some poor ethnic families who live in thatched huts in the central highlands. If we lived full-time in Australia we'd never be able to afford to help the orphanage (a dozen nuns and 150 kids) or those ethnic minority families in the mountains.
    This lifestyle is our choice and we're happy with it - although it's not made any easier by unsubstantiated criticism from people like 'Knows nothing' and his ilk on this forum, which is supposed to be for intelligent people to comment on questions posed by the YLC staff and/or authors of various issue-specific articles.
    Knows-a-lot
    2nd Jan 2018
    4:11pm
    "This character's "unfortunate encounter" with me on a previous thread was under a different name, which is why I didn't immediately recognise him (her or it) this time around."

    This is a libellous untruth.
    Knows-a-lot
    2nd Jan 2018
    4:13pm
    "He admits to receiving disability pension, which would account for his completely irrational and unsubstantiated assumptions, claims and threats (he hasn't yet sent me a private message threatening violence 'because he's a trained killer' as he did last time, but I won't hold my breath waiting - the 'disability' is clearly a mental one, so nothing would surprise me!)."

    Linhmartin, YOU are the one with the disability: Paranoid Schizophrenia and psychosis. Get some help, pal, you really need it.
    Knows-a-lot
    2nd Jan 2018
    4:24pm
    @Rainey:

    "If he is legally entitled to a pension and he can manage his affairs to be charitable to children in desperate need, good for him."

    But he is not MORALLY entitled to it. Your attitude approving of financial greed is one reason why Australia is going down the tubes.

    "There are far too many living in flash houses and taking handouts, or faking disability."

    Take a look at Linhmartin's picture and you'll see he fits the first two categories. Which makes him parasitic (as well as delusional). If you think I'm faking disability, believe me, I wouldn't be receiving NDIS support (which is incredibly difficult to obtain).

    "I doubt linhmartin is a cheat or a manipulator, because it would be totally out of character for a cheat or manipulator to be sponsoring an orphanage and caring about disadvantaged children."

    He's doing it only because his missus is obviously from there. Look at his picture.

    "BTW. I agree wholeheartedly that your chosen pseudonym is inappropriate, because I've seen multiple examples that evidence you know very little, if anything."

    BTW. I wholeheartedly agree that you have confirmed your ignorance of me. Can you solve calculus or chess problems in your head, write theology texts, or recognize a huge range of music? No? Well, I CAN! So dream on, ignoramus.
    MarLin
    2nd Jan 2018
    7:55pm
    I would normally hesitate to give a twisted hate-monger the last word but, in your case, you're welcome to it because the more you say, the deeper the hole you dig for yourself (down there with the other swamp-dwellers).
    What name are you going to use next time, I wonder? Then again, who cares - we'll know it's you again as soon as you open your pathetic, hate-filled mouth...
    Go your hardest, 'Know nothing' - we all need a good laugh; and I can hear your mother calling, so you'd better not stay up too late!
    MarLin
    2nd Jan 2018
    7:59pm
    By the way, 'Know nothing' - you should also go to Specsavers. That photo was taken in a tethered gondola above an island in Nha Trang Bay: admission price 20,000VND (approx AUD1). Wrong again - suck it up, princess!
    Charlie
    22nd Dec 2017
    1:57pm
    I recall being a kid and not wanting to be kissed by ugly oldies, so we would just say hello and bolt.
    But we were not that keen on being with little girls either, unless there was something we were curious about.
    Puglet
    22nd Dec 2017
    3:03pm
    I agree Charlie. I still remember being forced to kiss Aunty Lizzie - she was very, very rotund and had a prickly chin even worse she smelled (later I discovered it was max factor face powder). We had never met Aunty Lizzie before and thankfully didn’t see her much. Almost 70 years later my brother and I talk about Aunt Lizzie ghastly moments. On the other hand I adored my grand pa and great-grand pa and ensured they couldn’t get away by sitting on their knee. At 100 and with silicosis grandpa Morgan still had the patience to explain why his rhubarb grew better than next door’s and why sitting in the sun watching daffodils was one of the best things in the world to do on Sunday mornings.
    JAID
    28th Dec 2017
    12:24pm
    Love it Puglet.

    Something on that theme, one of my earliest memories (probably the second or third) was on one of my grandfather's visits. We had a household orchard, A little under 20 acres but quite a long way to walk around. Someone, my grandfather I think, had trimmed my nails and I didn't like how the nails then felt or perhaps got nicked in the process, I don't remember. Anyway, my grandfather thought it would be a good idea to take a walk carrying me around the orchard.

    We set off, green footprints on the sparkling silver grass. A lovely frosty morning, the sunlight brilliant. My grandfather and the birds singing. An old rooster telling us what was obvious and a few cows making that patient moo that reminds that milking is a little later than usual.

    Too soon I realised we were getting back close to the gate but found a little mention of my poor fingers, maybe a sob, managed to elicit another round. Close to the gate again and more, another. 4 walks around the orchard would be my guess.

    Manipulative little fox.
    Puglet
    22nd Dec 2017
    2:41pm
    The gender of those who want to cuddle or even touch babies and children is immaterial. As Crafty says nobody should touch a child without permission and that includes grandparents and aunties! I love watching men and women chat and make goo goo eyes at babies and it is sad that so many men feel constrained from being welcoming and friendly with kids - that’s how children learn the world is a nice place and that adults are friendly people and nice to get to know. However I would never, ever trust a Catholic priest with a child again - the trust disappeared when my father discovered our priest who was staying with my parents molesting six year old me! Somehow we have to learn that the vast majority of us aren’t paedophiles, we wash our hands after going to the toilet and that many people love kids and their innocence. We mustn’t lose that joy!
    JAID
    28th Dec 2017
    12:42pm
    Very sad Puglet. I hope it is now only a relayed memory. That people in positions of trust cannot appreciate that trust more than their own immediate misguided gratification amazes.

    I dropped my daughter around to the home of a friend of hers the other day. They have several young children and are very careful and good parents. At the front door steps with his mother attempting to hold him back the youngest, arms outstretched, launched himself at me and into space over the steps. Caught him and got a lovely cuddle for my trouble.

    A sign of a loving family.

    (I had forgotten how light they are when first toddling.)
    Knows-a-lot
    22nd Dec 2017
    3:06pm
    What a sick and paranoid world we live in. Paedophiles actually are a tiny proportion of the overall population. The world sorely needs more warmth and genuine affection, not less.
    MarLin
    22nd Dec 2017
    3:29pm
    Totally agree, Kal - but it only takes one pedophile to seriously damage a child's life.
    "Better safe than sorry" is still a reliable maxim - at least until the child is old enough to make his/her own decisions about who she/he is going to hug and kiss (or, as in Crafty's case above - headbutt!).
    Knows-a-lot
    28th Dec 2017
    1:22pm
    Playing it safe is the maxim of a coward. Better to be bold in improving the world.
    ex PS
    28th Dec 2017
    5:43pm
    So easy to be brave, when someone else faces the danger.
    Knows-a-lot
    1st Jan 2018
    2:45pm
    ex PS, the one displaying genuine wholesome affection is the one facing the danger. So they're the ones being brave, because of the risk of misconstrual.
    Dancer
    22nd Dec 2017
    4:13pm
    Can't say I agree with Old Man's comment that "if mum or dad hug someone then it's OK for the kids to do it too" - many a sexual predator is a member of the family or a family friend - and thus is unknowingly trusted by the parents... and saddest of all is that the world has come to this point where cuddles must be monitored and analysed.
    ex PS
    26th Dec 2017
    6:18pm
    Quite true Dancer, I have been involved with at least two incidents where the predator engage with the parents in order to get to the children. They are very good at misleading the adults involved.
    Bonny
    23rd Dec 2017
    7:10am
    It is a symptom of the break down of society that this is now happening. Growing up as kids we all knew who to keep away from and what to do if we were inappropriately touched etc as everyone knew just about everyone in the community. Today most don't even know their neighbours. I have an amazing lots of neighbours who greet each other with a hug and help each other out in times of need.
    Rae
    23rd Dec 2017
    9:57am
    Yes Bonny. I grew up in inner city Sydney in the days when poor people lived there before the rich moved in. We knew everyone around the area. Who was safe and who wasn't. It was amazing to have that multicultural assimilation going on. Kids were in and out of each others homes seeing how the other lives and learning the differences and similarities. We were a community. Best of all we were relatively free and gaining resilience.

    For all the material wealth kids have today I pity them their loss of freedom and connection. They will grow into fearful adults with all sorts of anxieties and we have created that future for them.
    Anonymous
    26th Dec 2017
    9:50am
    Likewise. As an orphan, I relished the opportunity to be part of families in the community, even briefly. I knew who to trust. Everyone in the community knew and advertised widely the names of those who presented danger.

    Yes, Rae, the privileged and protected children today are missing out on a great deal. I know some kids who lost their mum, tragically, when very young. They've been cut off from grandparents because they are ''too busy'' with sport, music lessons, dancing, gymnastics, and a hundred other expensive after-school activities. Personally, I think a relationship with their deceased mother's family would be far more valuable.
    ex PS
    26th Dec 2017
    8:55am
    I would never force a child to hug anyone, I would rather have an adults feelings hurt than have a child harmed. The child molester does not come with a sign, nor do they have a particular look about them. Child safety must come first, most adults know this and understand.

    I agree with most posters, it is a fact of life, but it is also a great pity that it has come to this.

    26th Dec 2017
    9:54am
    Sorry, but I don't think teaching kids to reject a cuddle from uncle or grandpa is going to protect them from a predator. The predators are way too smart! Thankfully, they are in small number - unlike the vast numbers of lying ''pretend'' victims who are seeing an opportunity to cash in after saying nothing for 30s years about that little pinch on the bum or wolf whistle that was, at the time, a compliment. Maybe while we are busy telling kids they can reject touch because everyone is a potential pervert, we can also teach them not to destroy the lives of decent people with lies and exaggeration because an innocently intended cuddle didn't ''feel good''.
    Anonymous
    26th Dec 2017
    9:58am
    Sorry... perhaps I've been influenced in my thinking by the behaviour of a relative who, seeing an opportunity to challenge her mother's will and make a greedy grab for more, invented a story about her relationship with her mother breaking down when her mother silently witnessed sexual abuse by a step-brother when greedy miss was 8. Thankfully, greedy miss didn't profit much from her greedy grab, but her lies did unbelievable hurt to a good man and his family, and to siblings who had to defend their dead mother's reputation against vile lies.
    ex PS
    26th Dec 2017
    6:14pm
    I agree, Rainey, a lot of people have been hurt by others who seek attention for being the victim. But, I believe children have instincts and should be allowed to use them, it may be that a child is happy to hug 99% of the people they come into contact with, if so that is fine. but most cases of molestation come from family and close friends, I would much rather insult a relative or friend than expose a child to danger.
    I also agree that predators outside the family sphere need to be addressed, but are we sending a mixed message when we say you must do something which is uncomfortable with one adult but you can deny the same thing to another? We must let our children use their instincts. But we must teach them to be polite when doing so.
    JAID
    27th Dec 2017
    2:11pm
    Thinking back to my own childhood, there were adults I did not want to be too close to. I am postive they were all fine but that was just my choice and fortunately my parents never came at the "kiss Aunty so and so" thing. Kids have a feel for these things. Sometimes you may know enough to kerb petting behaviour but inciting it seems a bit rude to me.

    It is great to have a cuddling, happy family and friends. Great when it is natural not forced.

    In answer to the last question, I am not sure that anybody has "rights" to anything but regardless of age. their control of their own body and tastes must be the closest thing to something which should be a right.
    ex PS
    28th Dec 2017
    5:52pm
    I just believe that I have confidence in a child who has been bought up in an open, honest environment to use their instincts in their best interests. I would never allow a stranger or even a family member to impose themselves physically on a child under my care.
    I would not move in on an adult and demand a cuddle, why would anyone think it would be any different with a child, especially one who objected to the process.
    We must make it our business to protect those who can't protect themselves, forcing a child into physical contact with someone they don't know or trust is just not on.

    28th Dec 2017
    11:59am
    I don't condone compelling kids to tolerate touch that feels uncomfortable, and I certainly support the idea that they should learn, from an early age, to respect their bodies and to demand that others respect them. But please let's not take this too far. Kids who crave signs of approval and affection are prime targets for paedophiles and perverts. Depriving a child of reassuring touch and hugs might put them at far greater risk than asking them to tolerate a prickly hug now and again.

    Check out the statistics on kids raised in institutions ending up in prison, in broken marriages, as abusers or victims of abuse. Ask anyone who has worked with abandoned, abused or orphaned children about the therapeutic value of gentle touch and regular cuddles.

    Kids need love, and until they are mature enough to understand the non-physical signs of love and approval, they need to be cuddled and stroked, often!
    ex PS
    28th Dec 2017
    5:57pm
    I see nothing wrong with an adult providing reassurance and affection to a child that seeks it out. I find it difficult to provide this kind of support myself, but I commend those who can.
    My problem is with those who would force themselves on children who obviously do not want that sort of attention.
    Anonymous
    28th Dec 2017
    6:23pm
    ex PS, the kids who need affection most rarely seek it out, and often send out signals that they don't want it - typically because they fear the rejection they have suffered in the past. Children typically enjoy being cuddled. Sadly, our society has gone way too far with caution. My daughter is a teacher and she regularly comments on the harm it is doing to children to ban teachers giving little ones a reassuring hug when they are upset.

    I am so tired of this new ''correct'' world. We are not seeing any less disability, crime, mental illness, sexual abuse, or other tragedies as a result of telling us oldies that everything we did with kids was wrong and a whole new set of rules must apply. In fact, by my observations, the problems are increasing rapidly.
    Old Geezer
    28th Dec 2017
    3:06pm
    My son when at school became friends with the school janitor and used to go home with him at lunch time to paly with his train set. My son told me about his the first time he did it so I asked if I could meet the fellow. Well the fellow looked like many homeless men so I asked if he could let me see his train set as my son told me how good it was. So he invited me around for a cuppa and a turn on his train set. Now I was little suspicious of this fellow as these are the types who groom children. After visiting him we became friends and were still friends up until the day he died. I was even asked to say a few words at his funeral so I told the story of how we met.


    Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free

    • Receive our daily enewsletter
    • Enter competitions
    • Comment on articles