There is no shortage of headline-making baby-rearing philosophies that cause people to research further, roll their eyes, or raise an eyebrow. Some parents second guess their techniques, stand confidently in what they do, or waffle.
We’re not sure how you’ll react, but be prepared to raise an eyebrow over this philosophy. In efforts to promote body ownership and consent, Deanne Carson asserts that parents should seek their babies’ permission before changing their diaper.
The sexual consent advocate works for an organization called Body Safety Australia, which works with children and adults to educate them about sexual abuse and prevention. The group also addresses sex and sexuality for youth.
But it’s Carson’s interview with ABC News Australia that has people talking. She was asked to comment on the Saxon Mullins rape case and the issue of what constitutes consent.
Speaking on how parents should foster an environment of consent in the home, she stated that parents can start with babies during diaper changes:
“I’m going to change your nappy now, is that OK?”
“Of course, a baby’s 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.”
Her views elicited a slew of responses ridiculing her position, supporting it partly, or angrily shooting it down. Among those who chimed in were sexual assault survivors saying that this statement undermines and demeans their experiences.
And some brought up the issue of a diaper needing to be changed for obvious reasons. Whether the child smiles or screams to indicate his agreement, you can’t let a baby fester in a diaper full of pee or poop because that itself is abuse. Consent would not matter.
What is clear is children should be taught early about appropriate touching and inappropriate touching, and are being encouraged to speak up about any incidents. There’s even a movement pushing kids to refuse relatives’ hugs if they aren’t feeling the interaction.
Psychology experts are on board with teaching kids – starting as toddlers – about boundaries, touching, and listening to their gut. You want them to understand and know body autonomy, consent, and most of all, how to express themselves if they feel uncomfortable. But diaper changes?
Carson defended her comments on Facebook by referring to statistics on child sexual abuse, writing:
“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.”
It hasn’t stopped the criticism from flooding in, and people are saying that she’s gone too far in trying to convey her opinion and teachings. Sexual abuse is a serious problem, but getting a baby’s permission for a diaper change hardly seems feasible. Watch the video to hear her speak on it herself!
What’s your opinion on Ms. Carson’s ideas? Do you think she’s being ridiculous or that she has a point? At what age do you believe consent should be taught?