This sexuality expert has a fascinating take on how diaper-changing can teach consent.

A sexuality expert said that parents should ask babies for consent before changing their diapers. And people reacted.

Deanne Carson, who works with Australia's Body Safe, a child sexual abuse prevention organization, appeared on ABC to speak about starting consent education as early as possible, such as when the baby is — well — just a baby.

"We work with parents from birth ... just about how to set up a culture of consent in their homes. '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,'" Carson said.


People seem to be pretty split in their reactions to what she's saying. On one hand, leaving room for a baby to hear that they have bodily autonomy seems absolutely important; on the other, some people have referred to this advice as "lefty lunacy."

Carson herself chimed in after the outrage began. "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?!)," Newsweek reported the educator wrote on Facebook.

Whether or not you think Carson's example was good, her message is right on.

It's easy to dismiss Carson's ideas. After all, have you met a baby? They don't know what's going on half the time, and asking if you can change their diaper isn't going to produce a viable response. And the alternative, of course, is not to leave them in a wet diaper for the rest of the day — we can all agree on that.

Take a second to really think about what Carson's saying, though, and it doesn't appear nearly as controversial. What you're doing by making eye contact, making your intentions known, and leaving space for the baby is setting up a "culture of consent." The idea is that as the child ages, they'll be more likely to recognize their body is their own, that other people shouldn't touch it without permission, and that it's OK to say no.

The message of consent is especially important considering the staggering child sexual abuse statistics in America.

While it's not known exactly how many children are victimized sexually each year, in 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that of children who'd been maltreated, 9.2% had been sexually abused. In addition, 20% of adult women and up to 10% of adult men recalled instances of child sexual abuse. The valid warnings to never get into a car with a stranger or take candy from someone we don't know don't always incorporate the reality that the majority of those who've been victimized are hurt by people they know well. That's why the idea of consent — that your body is your own and you are able to say no and speak out — needs to be taught as early as possible.

That's a message that's both important and a little easier to understand.

"[Carson's] simply making the very reasonable case for establishing a 'culture of consent' in households and with children from the youngest possible age," Katie Russell, a spokesperson for the nonprofit sexual violence organization Rape Crisis England and Wales told Newsweek. "This is about both getting parents and carers into positive habits of not assuming consent from their children and about teaching children that they have a right to decide what happens to their bodies."

And as they grow, that kind of autonomy will help them be more assertive when it comes to non-consensual touch and to recognize that they shouldn't touch others without their consent either. Sure, Carson's example may have come across as a little out of left field, but we could all do better in making sure that children understand consent and learn to set boundaries at every step of the growing process.

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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