Out of all the major problems in the world, sex educator Lucy Emmerson has picked an interesting topic to focus on.
Emmerson, coordinator of the Sex Education forum, is asking parents to stop making their kids kiss their relatives. Yes, someone is actually making a big deal about asking little Timmy to kiss Grandma on the cheek. Emmerson says that encouraging a child to blow a kiss, high five, or wave to relatives is a better idea.
The reason, Emmerson says, is that children from a young age need to learn that “their bodies are their own.” Emmerson fears pressuring a child to give relatives a kiss against the child’s will could lead to weakened notions about consensual sexual behavior.
“I believe learning about consent starts from age zero,” Emmerson said. “Much is learnt by young children from everyday experiences about whether or not their opinion is valued and if they have any control over physical contact with others. Intervening may be awkward... but it is necessary if we are truly to teach children that their bodies are their own and that their instincts should be followed.”
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Margaret Morrissey of the family rights group Parents Outloud is calling Emmerson’s suggestion “ridiculous.”
“Parents are very sensible and know exactly what’s appropriate for their children,” Morrissey said. “The Sex Education Forum is trying to take any kind of human feeling and kindness out of the way we bring up children and that’s really sad. If a child isn’t taught through the family connection how to show appropriate affection, then they’re going to have a very difficult time when they become teenagers and adults.”