Children are the owners of their bodies


This is another subject that might puzzle some parents but it is a very SERIOUS issue that we all need to think about. What is more important, your child’s future well-being and ability to respect his/her own body or your relative/friend’s temporarily hurt feelings? I know I pick my children’s side on this. No forced hugs, kisses or other physical displays of affection that have no meaning, it is much better to let your kids decide when and how they want to express their love for others.

This is a very good article by a mother who raises the same question:

“My daughter doesn’t have to hug or kiss anyone just because I say so, not even me. I will not override my own child’s currently strong instincts to back off from touching someone who she chooses not to touch.
I figure her body is actually hers, not mine.
It doesn’t belong to her parents, preschool teacher, dance teacher or soccer coach. While she must treat people with respect, she doesn’t have to offer physical affection to please them. And the earlier she learns ownership of herself and responsibility for her body, the better for her.

Forcing children to touch people when they don’t want to leaves them vulnerable to sexual abusers, most of whom are people known to the children they abuse, according to Ursula Wagner, a mental health clinician with the FamilyWorks program at Heartland Alliance in Chicago. None of the child victims of sexual abuse or assault she’s counseled was attacked by strangers, she said.

Sometimes a child picks up on something odd about your brother-in-law that no one knows. It may not be that he’s a sexual predator. He may just have no sense of boundaries or tickle too much, which can be torture for a person who doesn’t like it. Or he may be a predator.
“It sends a message that there are certain situations [when] it’s not up to them what they do with their bodies,” said Wagner. “If they are obligated to be affectionate even if they don’t want to, it makes them vulnerable to sexual abuse later on.””


2 thoughts on “Children are the owners of their bodies

  1. So riddle me this Batman . . . how is it that I was raised to not be forced to give affection if I didn’t want to and was still sexually abused for years by my mother’s boyfriend? I had a VERY strong sense of boundaries, right/wrong touches and was still subjected to sexual abuse by a non-stranger!

    • I am very sorry about your experience. There are too many factors involved in a child being taken advantage of by someone close to the family or by a family member. A child is never to blame, and this article is just one of the ways to help children learn to say “no”. Again, very very sorry about what happened to you. Child sexual abuse is something that should never take place. Never.

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