Girl Scouts hugging advice draws debate - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Girl Scouts hugging advice draws debate

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A recent article on the Girl Scouts of America's website has caused debate among some people.

The article "Reminder: She Doesn't Owe Anyone a Hug. Not Even at the Holidays", brings up points about allowing girls to choose how they show affection, even in innocent ways such as family hugs.

The Girl Scouts' developmental psychologist  Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald brought up how teaching girls to set up physical boundaries while they are young can impact them throughout their lives.

Some say the article blows an innocent interaction out of proportion.

Child psychologist Dr. David Chiarella explains that the situation can be different for every family.

"Every child is different, every family is different," says Chiarella,  "and every family has different levels of tolerance regarding touching, hugging, and kissing".

Along with tolerance, another concern is that even hugs could be a trigger for kids with hidden abuse or past trauma. 

Dr. Jackey Smith, a clinical social worker says "to go and show affection, even to a relative, or to a loved one, can be reinforcing trauma".

Smith does offer some alternatives to requiring hugs that allow children to show gratitude, while letting them to stay in their comfort zone.

"Thank you is sufficient," he explains,  "once the child feels comfortable-at their own leisure, and at their own leading- if they desire to go and give that person a hug, then that's completely appropriate".

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