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A picture book designed to teach children about consent has sparked a debate online.

‘C is for Consent’, by American author Eleanor Morrison, offers lessons on ‘how to offer affection’ and encourages mothers and fathers not to ‘force hugs and kisses’.

It divided opinion after New York-based writer Zoe Samudzi tweeted this week that she is reading the title to her 11-month-old nephew, saying she was ‘starting him early’.

While some parents agreed children were never too young to learn about consent, others argued it was inappropriate content for a children’s book.

The book, which was released in April following a crowdfunding campaign, is designed for children aged 0 – 3+.

The book, which follows a character called Finn, the name of author Eleanor’s son, ends with the lesson that he should ask for consent before holding his female friend’s hand.

‘By including active parent characters, this book familiarizes parent readers with setting boundaries when grandparents or friends demand hugs from the child or try to plant kisses without asking’, Eleanor said.

Describing the book as aimed at ages 0-3+, she explained that it can be used as role play, adding: ‘The lesson will not be absorbed by a months-old baby, but toddlers will start understanding, and parents like me want to set the groundwork for future conversations’.

Zoe’s tweet proved similarly controversial and drew thousands of comments online.

She explained she would respect her nephew’s ‘autonomy’ by never ‘making him hug me’, adding: ‘His learning to assert his autonomy and to respect the autonomy of others is a lot more important than my feelings’.

Critics claimed the content ‘sexualised’ children, with one writing: ‘ Children at that age is too early. Teaching them ‘consent’ I know it not all about sex. But please. ‘This things will only go out hand. Even in secondary school, I recall the cringes it gives been thought about the private parts. Let alone kids (sic).’

However dozens of followers agreed with Zoe, arguing consent does not just apply to sex.

What do you think? Too young?

Share your comments below

  • Some little ones object when they are tired and not happy. I always accept that and step back from the child. However I do take objection for the child to walk up and kick me a few minutes later especially if the child does it in obvious defiance or spite.

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  • I agree to some extend.
    My youngest has Down Syndrome and everyone wants to cuddle her. She shouts or give a push when she doesn’t want to. I teach my kids not to force her to give or get a hug.
    But the other way around is that girl with Down Syndrome is very affectionate and runs to anyone and everyone, hugs the legs of random people, always initiates contact and physical contact. Should I teach her not to do that and kill her spontaneity in the butt ?

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  • When we say hello or goodbye to people I say to my toddler “would you like to high 5 or wave?” I don’t even offer the option of cuddles or kisses. When we are playing a physical game (eg tickling) if he says stop I always stop. Children do need to know that they are in control of their body. If my son doesn’t want to kiss or cuddle me then he doesn’t have to. Forcing kids to be physical against their wishes is idiotic and sets them up for a lifetime of not understanding they are in charge of their body.

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  • Children shouldn’t be made to kiss or hug anyone if they are uncomfortable.

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  • I personally don’t agree with this at such a young age.

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  • You should never force a child to hug someone if they don’t want too, but that’s commonsense, you don’t need a book about it.

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  • I agree that you should never force a kid to hug you.

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  • I hated being forced to hug or kiss people when young. I taught my children if it does not feel right then say it. I always ask for the hug or kiss from younger children. My son’s partner comes from a family that everyone is expected to hug and kiss and she makes her child my grand daughter always hug and kiss on arrival or departure. I do not like this, so I say if she does not want to she does not have too. I would prefer she came to me and give me the hug on her own accord.

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  • Hard to make a comment unless I read it myself

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  • I agree that it’s far to advanced for babies purely because they have no idea what is going on. Perhaps 3 onwards but even then they don’t really understand a lot.

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  • Consent is important.

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  • Consent is very important but there has to be a safe limit to this too.

    Reply

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