Girl Scouts advise parents not to force daughters to give hugs, local experts agree

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - The Girl Scouts posted a message to parents not to force their daughters to hug anyone, even relatives, this holiday season if they don't want to. The advice comes amid numerous sexual misconduct allegations in Hollywood and the media.

In a blog post, it's explained that it's less about hugs and more about the idea of consent.

The post begins:

"Holidays and family get-togethers are a time for yummy food, sweet traditions, funny stories, and lots and lots of love. But they could, without you even realizing it, also be a time when your daughter gets the wrong idea about consent and physical affection."

Amy Carter, Operations Director at the Children's Inn in Sioux Falls agrees. She said they teach parents to give their kids the options to make their own decisions.

"All kids really need to have that choice," Carter said. "Your body is your body and if it's something you're not comfortable with you shouldn't be forced to do that even if it is a relative."

Carter said teaching appropriate body boundaries at a young age can help kids better understand consent as they get older.

"That really leads into for years to come, if they initially protect and keep their body safe and respect their body," Carter said. "Then as they grow up and as a teenager and as adults they know they have choices and then it's up to them what they do with their body or who they allow to touch their body."

KSFY News hit the street and people in downtown Sioux Falls had varying opinions, including one couple.

"I think it's silly -- I do," said one man, about the advice.

His partner disagreed.

"I don't know, we have a four-year-old so I think we don't want to encourage her," she said. "If she doesn't want to touch people, she doesn't have to."

"That's true, but I wouldn't tell her she doesn't have to," he said.

And another young woman thought they advice was spot on.

"I mean, I definitely wouldn't want to hug my creepy uncle if they were forcing me to," she said. "So I think that's a good thing -- empowering them to say no because they often probably feel like they can't."

Another guy had just gotten a hug from a little loved one ... but he agreed too.

"It's good to be able to have that option," he said. "I don't think they should be pressuring them into hugging the ugly uncle, you know the creepy uncle."

But one thing everyone could agree on?

"I like hugs, I just got my hug, so that was good," he said.

"I think hugs are good," another woman said.

KSFY News reached out to Girl Scouts of USA and Girl Scouts - Dakota Horizons for comment on the blog post, but haven't heard back yet.