Girl Scouts: 'She doesn't owe anyone a hug'

The Girl Scouts issued a recommendation on their website about family and friends' interactions with daughters during the holidays.

AUSTIN - This is a story that has a lot of people talking.

The Girl Scouts issued a recommendation on their website about family and friends' interactions with daughters during the holidays.

The post tells parents: "She doesn't owe anyone a hug. Not even at the holidays."

The Girl Scouts regularly posts articles on its website, the organization says, to empower girls. The post about hugging comes after the news we have been seeing about sexual harassment.

The organization said the post starts the conversation between parents and children about consent and physical affection at an early age.

Dominique Graves closely works with the Girls Scouts, advocating for girls and providing social work. She said the organization's post about hugging can encourage parents to talk with their kids about what's comfortable.

"You have the right to make your boundaries the way you like,” said Graves. “You have the right to feel safe within yourself. You have the right to know what's appropriate and not appropriate in regards to your own bubble."

The website's article said: "Telling your child that she owes somebody a hug either just because she hasn't seen this person in a while or because they gave her a gift can set the stage for her questioning whether she 'owes' another person any type of physical affection when they've bought her dinner or done something else seemingly nice for her later in life."

Austin parents we talked to agree with the message.

"Parents need to be vigilant with our children,” said grandmother Sarah Dewberry. “With our children more so that you want to trust everyone. There are certain people you absolutely can trust, but you absolutely have to be on the wary eye."

Beth Gray has two daughters and said she tells them to only hug people they intimately know.

"If it's anybody else, even if it's just a family member, I wouldn't force them to hug anybody they don't really know,” she said.

And she said it might be all a bit of an overreaction.

"But I also understand that you have to be comfortable in your own skin and who you're around and if you're not comfortable, you don't have to give consent,” said Dewberry.

The Girl Scouts said they are not discouraging hugs -- just asking parents to reconsider when they ask their daughter to give one -- to let them make the choice.

"It gives you so much more self-confidence,” Graves said. “Something you typically don't learn until your 20s. If we can start teaching that early on, then kids can say, 'No, I'm not going to be bullied today. No, I'm not going to be manipulated today.'"

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