An author and educator who’s been ridiculed for suggesting parents should ask babies for consent has a good point, other experts say.
Deanne Carson said in an ABC News segment that families could set up “a culture of consent” in the home by asking babies “I’m going to change your nappy now, is that OK?”
But her simply advice has been ridiculed and laughed at by parents and commentators who describe it as “lefty lunacy”.
Now child psychologist Beulah Warren has weighed in, explaining how important it is to treat babies with respect from a young age.
“You’re treating them as an individual, you’re just treating it with the respect it deserves. I hope that all mothers are talking to babies as they handle them – and they do.”
She said she believed people didn’t quite understand Carson’s message – but said she made made a good point about respect:
“You see I think the phrase is completely wrong, you’re not asking for consent, you’re respecting this little person.”
“So you’re talking to them as you’re touching them. I think that starts form a very young baby you want the mum to be saying ‘Hi, we’re going to just change your nappy now.’ And this respectful way of speaking to your child helps the child relax really. It’s important that the child feels respected right from the very beginning.”
She explained it’s not about getting permission from a three day old or a three month old.
“I think it’s very legitimate we teach children from an early age that their bodies are their bodies and they have to give consent to get people to touch them.”
Ms Carson has since fired back as her critics saying children need to learn about their rights.
“For those people I’m posting this. “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. The work we do with children, teachers and parents is international best practice in abuse prevention. It teaches children their rights AND their responsibilities and connects them with people who care and can help. It invites their parents into the discussion and is sensitive to cultural and family values”
Ms Warren said people who argued children didn’t like getting their nappy changed or couldn’t talk yet had missed the point:
“No twelve month old baby enjoys lying on their back and having their nappy changed. But it’s still very respectful for parents to say ‘Hello, I need to change your nappy right now, is that okay with you?’…it’s about showing respect to this little person.”