Meme about not forcing children to kiss or hug sparks debate amongst parents

A meme about not forcing children to kiss or hug people that they don’t want to has sparked a huge debate amongst parents.

The image, posted by the Safe Kids Thriving Families charity Facebook page in October, has since gone viral, after advising parents to let children decide how comfortable they are with certain actions.

‘I am 5. My body is my body,’ it reads. ‘Don’t force me to kiss or hug. I am learning about consent and your support on this will help keep me safe for the rest of my life.’

‘Supporting our children’s understanding of body autonomy has a lifelong reach,’ the charity added alongside. ‘Let’s do all we can to normalise a child’s right to do what they want with their own bodies.’

Since it was first uploaded, the picture has had over 50,000 shares and received almost 500 comments, many from parents discussing the reasoning behind the post.

‘So, we are going to make something innocent and used as a show of affection and turn it into something perverted?’ one commenter wrote.’ THIS is what is inherently wrong with our country. Human beings scientifically NEED touch for survival. It releases much needed endorphins which produce positive feelings in human beings.’

‘So are you saying you should not tell your kids to hug and kiss their grandparents hello and goodbye? Or their aunt and uncles? I grew up having to give all my family members a hug or a kiss when we saw them and I grew up fine!’ another added.

‘OMG this is the stupidest thing I have ever heard, there is nothing wrong with teaching a child to be affectionate. Once again adults READING into and over analyzing. The last time I checked we aren’t asking our kids to go kiss and hug a stranger,’ a third agreed.

However, others felt that the meme reflected situations in their own lives accurately: ‘I am always uncomfortable when people I know insist the child give me a hug if the kid doesn’t offer it leave it,’ one said ‘When this happens I suggest a high 5.’

As a result of the controversy, Safe Kids Thriving Families have clarified their stance, saying: ‘Just to be clear to everyone – WE LOVE HUGS AND KISSES! My own children are *so* affectionate. We are the huggy huggers from way back.’

‘However, we are VERY MUCH against FORCING kids to kiss and hug. We are a child abuse protection charity who work in our community with victims and families and it is well established in this field that ONE of the ways to protect our children is to change our cultural attitudes towards consent and body autonomy. Let’s do this together!’