School programme on consent sparks outrage by stating that children should learn to say no to kisses from grandmothers
While most supported the intention behind the programme in Australian schools, many were wary about bringing grandmothers into it
Schools in Australia are taking drastic measures in order to ensure that children understand the meaning of consent. A controversial new program called "Respect Matters" has been adopted in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria, and which states that grandmothers should take consent of their grandchildren if they want to kiss them.
The program was adopted with the aim of making children understand the meaning of consent, emotions and also discuss matters related to gender equality. While this has not been made compulsory in schools yet, many of the Eastern schools have adopted this method.
However, people have not been very welcoming of the idea. One of the parents noted that the "world has gone mad" while another noted the idea to be "stupid". But childhood educator Margie Buttress stated that this idea might be good in order to educate children about what consent means.
Speaking to ABC News, Buttress noted that there are times when children do not feel comfortable about receiving a kiss from their grandmothers and in these cases they must be educated on how they can express their discomfort.
"We’re talking about situations such as Grandma wants to swoop in for the big sloppy kiss and if the child doesn’t want that to happen what can they do," she said, as reported by Express. She further added, "They can respectfully say: ‘No thanks Grandma, let’s have a hug instead’.”
Meanwhile, the Australian government defended the move stating that this practice would help children understand how to express their discomfort, even if it means communicating this message to someone close to them.
But people on the internet were divided about the idea. While many appreciated the effort of the government trying to educate children about sexual assault and sexual misconduct, they were not happy about using grandmothers as an example to propagate this knowledge.
"Grandma’s sloppy kisses should not be used to teach children about possible sexual abuse," one person noted. Another added, "Who thought of this one? Teach them about sexual abuse but leave Grandmas out of it.”
Some people also noted that having this exercise as a practice in families can affect family relations and could do more harm than good.
“And people wonder why kids are becoming more detached and alienated. I have no doubt that this lack of family and social bonds is what leads to destructive behaviors like crime and drug addiction," noted one person.
While there were a few who noted that children needed to be taught about emotions such as affection. "What is wrong with society? Absolutely garbage. Kids need a lot of affection and security," read the comment.
There were others who also believed that this program would be a good idea. "Good idea to teach young kids the concept of consent at a young age and with scenarios, they can understand," another noted.
Deanne Carson, a consent expert noted that it is important to let the child know that their response matters. “It’s just about how to set up a culture of consent in their homes so ‘I’m going to change your nappy now, is that OK. Of course, a baby is not going to respond ‘yes mum that’s awesome, I’d love to have my nappy changed. But if you leave a space, and wait for body language and wait to make eye contact then you’re letting that child know that their response matters," she said.