More

This post about kids and consent just sparked a really important debate.

Kids showing affection to people they're unfamiliar with is not just about manners.

This post about kids and consent just sparked a really important debate.

In July 2015, CNN writer Katia Hetter updated an article she first wrote in 2012 about not forcing her now-7-year-old daughter to hug or kiss anyone, even relatives.

In the article, she candidly explained how she communicated the idea to her then-4-year-old daughter: "I would like you to hug Grandma, but I won't make you do it."

Hetter wanted her daughter to learn consent, to know that her body belonged to her and her alone. If she didn't want to give a person she hardly knew or had just met a hug, she didn't need to.


Image via iStock.

The article also included important commentary by Irene van der Zande, the co-founder of Kidpower, an organization that offers tons of resources for youth about personal safety and violence prevention.

"When we force children to submit to unwanted affection in order not to offend a relative or hurt a friend's feelings, we teach them that their bodies do not really belong to them because they have to push aside their own feelings about what feels right to them," van der Zande said.

Hetter's article quickly went viral, sparking an important discussion from parents everywhere.

On Oct. 6, 2016, the Facebook page Safe kids, thriving families reminded everyone of this article by sharing this meme. It was shared over 51,000 times. Later, A Mighty Girl shared the story, too, and over 165,000 people shared it there.

It features a photo of a little girl with a message that reads:

"I Am 5.
My body is my body.
Don't force me to kiss or hug.
I am learning about consent and your support on this will help me keep myself safe for the rest of my life."


Katia Hetter taught her daughter an important lesson with a very simple phrase: “I would like you to hug Grandma, but I...

Posted by A Mighty Girl on Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The reactions to the post were both surprising and incredibly insightful.

People talked about why it may be crucial that we stop and think before making our child kiss or hug someone who's unfamiliar to them.

Some were able to relate:

Others thought this cautious approach was perhaps unnecessary:

But overall, they agreed on one thing: The topic was surprising and something we should all think about.

Many of us were likely conditioned to show physical affection to people we hardly knew (including relatives) by either planting an innocent kiss on their cheek or hugging them tightly with false enthusiasm. But should we be teaching our kids to do that, too?

Hetter brings up an important point with her story: Kids need to understand what consent means, and the earlier they grasp that concept the better.

It's imperative children learn to trust their instincts and say "no" when something doesn't feel right to them.

True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.