an educator wants to teach children physical self-determination
The reputation of experts matters and is often recognized among the public. Experts in technical or medical fields enjoy great credibility. On the other hand, the words of education experts, for example, are constantly questioned.
Deanne Carson recently had the terrible experience. The sex educator shared a reflection on social media that sparked a wave of protests. So much so that she had to deactivate her Facebook and Twitter accounts shortly after. But what happened?
Deanne spoke on television about her organization “Body Safety Australia”, which fights against child sexual abuse. According to the purple-haired woman, the goal is to teach children to be confident in their own bodies. Part of its work therefore also consists in establishing a “culture of consent” in families from the birth of the child.
To illustrate this point, Deanne gave a controversial example. She believes that babies should even be asked for their consent before changing their diapers. For her, the parents should make eye contact with the child and ask him, “I’m going to change your diaper now, are you okay?”
This statement received a lot of criticism and mockery:
- “My baby has been in her fucking diaper for four days. I’m still waiting for her consent.”
- “I hope I haven’t forgotten to give my baby consent to relieve himself in his diaper!”
- “And in a few years, I’ll be asking my daughter, ‘You want to go to school? No? Well, don’t go then.'”
Among the funny comments, others are less laughing … Deanne is called a “hysterical leftist” and even receives death threats. The message of the young Australian was completely lost in a heated debate.
Deanne is well aware that a baby cannot answer “Yes, mum, go ahead”. But even babies are able to give consent through signals and body language. What matters to Deanne is that parents treat their child’s body with respect. Of course, a baby needs to be changed, even if he is uncomfortable.
However, on a daily basis, many parents are programmed to care for “their” child the way “their” child thinks the situation requires. In this way, the child is accustomed from the start to adults having control of his body. In the case of sexual abuse, which the child does not perceive as such because he does not yet understand sexuality, there is a risk that this lack of physical self-determination will lead the child to suffer the aggression. .
The vast majority of cases of child abuse take place in a familiar environment: within the family, institutions and associations. Deanne fears that children’s physical insecurity will be too easily exploited if they haven’t learned to say no and defend themselves against unpleasant touching early on.
It remains to be seen if Deanne’s suggestion to ask babies for “permission to change their diapers” is really feasible. The idea of consent in itself is honorable and it is necessary to transmit it to children, but everything must be done within the limits of what is possible and intelligible.
Taken out of context, some expert opinions seem absurd. Especially when it comes to education, spirits heat up very quickly. It will therefore be necessary to demonstrate that Deanne’s suggestion is viable before it can be put into practice. Maybe she will be useful, maybe not. But it is still worth a try because the concept of consent must be instilled in children very quickly in order to prevent them from finding themselves later in serious situations or even being responsible for them. To the best of my mind …