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Girl Scouts' PSA advises parents not to force kids to give hugs

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JOHNSTOWN, Penn. (WJAC) - As the holidays approach and family gatherings become more frequent, the Girl Scouts are reminding parents to not force their kids to give out hugs.

In a public service announcement, the organization says telling a child they owe someone a hug can lead to them questioning if they owe another person physical affection later in life.

The Girl Scouts say urging your daughter to hug someone after they’ve done something nice for her, can paint the wrong picture when it comes to consent and physical affection.

“The notion of consent may seem very grown-up and like something that doesn’t pertain to children, 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,” Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald said.

She also said informing young girls about consent can help them to understand their rights and to know when someone is crossing the line.

In the PSA, the Girl Scouts advise parents to let their daughters decide on their own if and how they want to show affection.

“Of course, many children may naturally want to hug and kiss family members, friends and neighbors, and that’s lovely — but if your daughter is reticent, consider letting her choose what to do.”

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The PSA says there are many other ways to express affection, like giving a high five or thanking someone with a smile. The organization says it depends on what the child is comfortable with

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