PSYCHOLOGY

Expert Was Mocked For Suggesting Parents Ask Their Babies For Consent To Change Diapers

Date May 23, 2018 17:53

No one can argue against the importance of teaching children about the culture of consent. A child should be able to recognize a situation in which an adult makes (or tries to make) inappropriate physical contact with him or her and know how to act right in such circumstances. But what is the right way to educate children about this sensitive issue and teach them how to stay safe? Which methods and approaches are reasonable? Can we go too far?

Speaking on ABC News, Deanne Carson, a Melbourne-based sexuality educator, suggested parents could foster the culture of consent right from birth, such as by asking: “I’m going to change your nappy now, is that OK?”

The expert made this suggestion during a segment about teaching consent to children. However, many people have since expressed their confusion over the following idea, and Deanne Carson became the center of an international social media storm. Many viewers found such statements ridiculous.

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It's common knowledge that babies who are still wearing diapers usually aren't verbal yet. So Carson went on to add:

Of course a baby is not going to respond ‘yes mum, that is 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 are letting that child know that their response matters.

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Carson's words generated a wave of criticism and mockery. Sky News Australia commentator Rowan Dean described Carson's idea as "lefty lunacy." And some Twitter users joined in:

Some were more sympathetic:

Carson defended her idea in a Facebook post (which has since been deleted):

I gave an interview the other day about teaching consent to young children. Sadly, some people have chosen to ridicule me (oh no! Pink hair! Must be a lesbian!) and the notion of giving infants bodily autonomy (poo in nappies har har amiright?!)

For those people I’m posting this.

One in three girls, one in seven boys will be sexually assaulted by the time they are eighteen years old. One in twelve girls will be sexually abused before their sixth birthday.

The work we do with children, teachers and parents is international best practice in abuse prevention. It teaches children their rights AND their responsibilities and connects them with people who care and can help. It invites their parents into the discussion and is sensitive to cultural and family values.

Troll me all you want, add to your blog inches, but remember that when you do, you are negating the voices of these brave survivors of sexual abuse.

Deanne Carson was overwhelmed by the reaction and was inundated with messages from over the world. The expert clearly has children's best interests in mind, but it's unclear whether her ideas can actually work.

What do you think? How can we teach our children to understand their own boundaries and don't let anybody hurt them?

Babies