Girl Scouts warn parents not to force hugs on children

As more and more people are named in sex assault and harassment scandals, the Girl Scouts are sending an unexpected warning to parents this holiday season.

The group says your kids don't have to hug anyone for the holidays.

A message getting a lot of attention with parents.

"It's fifty-fifty," Lester Coleman said. "You should know your family members and what they do."

"I think it's good advice because we've never pushed that on our kids anyways," Jean Harris said. "I think it should be genuine. If they don't feel like hugging, don't hug."

The scouts want parents to talk to their children about hugs, and say your son or daughter may not always feel comfortable giving a hug.

Instead of physical contact, Girl Scouts suggest using words, smiling, high-five or an air kiss.

"Prep your parents ahead of time," parent, Shannon Thorne said. "Tell them, my children are not going to give you a hug if they don't feel comfortable, and giving them the option of a high five, fist bump."

On Wednesday, Girl Scouts of the USA defended its advice by sending Eyewitness News a statement.

"Girl Scouts of the USA offers advice to girls' parents/families (including those of current Girl Scouts) on how to talk to their daughters about issues in the larger world that they hear about or that directly affect them. Given our expertise in healthy relationship development for girls, and in light of recent news stories about sexual harassment, we are proud to provide girls' parents and caregivers with age-appropriate guidance to use when discussing this sensitive matter and other challenging topics, should they wish to do so. Obviously, our advice will not apply in all situations, and we recognize that parents and caregivers are in the best position to judge which conversations they should have with their girls."

While the Girl Scouts focused its message for females, parents believe this is an important conversation to have with all your children right now.

"I think it should be for everyone," Thorne said. "Any child, any age. I don't think it's really appropriate to force them because what message are we sending?"

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