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Girl Scouts say hugs can send wrong message

Posted at 10:32 AM, Nov 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-22 13:32:07-05
We'll be seeing and hugging a lot of family for the holidays, but what if your child doesn't want to hug someone?
The Girl Scouts are giving some controversial advice.
The very title of the article sets some people off: "Reminder: She doesn't owe anyone a hug."
The Girl Scouts say telling a child she owes someone a hug just because she hasn't seen them in a while or because they gave her a gift sets her up for a negative experience later in life. Parent reactions have been everything from anger to blindsided.
"I see how you make that connection, but never something I've really been concerned about," said Mike Erickson, a parent of a Girl Scout.
The Girl Scouts told ABC News they dished the advice "in light of recent news stories about sexual harassment." 
They leave it up to the parents, but clinical social worker Tammy Shield-Rice says if your child doesn't want to show someone physical affection you should try to find out why.
"It's a big deal and it's important, but it doesn't have to be this huge confrontational big family blow up. It's like, okay, you don't want to hug uncle John that's okay. You have a right," said Shield-Rice.
She says saying no to a hug could be a sign that something is wrong.
"Too many times children's feelings and emotions and reasons for things just get railroaded by overbearing parents," said Shield-Rice.
The article on Facebook has been shared thousands of times.