Girl Scouts empowering young women to choose whether or not to hug

ALAMEDA, Calif. (KGO) -- The Girl Scouts are addressing the national conversation on girls learning how to handle unwanted physical touching, and they say that can involve unwanted hugs from well-meaning family members and friends during the holiday season.

Ash Redfield with the Girl Scouts of Northern California says the main message is that girls can choose who they hug. "Over the holidays sometimes an aunt gives a gift, and you say 'oh, give her a hug to say thanks' and sometimes the girl isn't comfortable with that," Redfield said.

One mom from Castro Valley says she always gives her daughter a choice. She says it's OK to say no, and still be a loving family member or loving friend.

Jana Sonnikson is a marriage and family therapist in Lafayette. She thinks Thanksgiving is a tricky time because of all the expectations.

VIDEO: Bay Area scouts ask astronaut questions about life in space

She says girls have to understand that a hug is a gift - not something you have to do or you're forced to do.

Seven-year-old Josie Kennon says sometimes hugging family members can be awkward.

"I forget who they are and I feel like I'm hugging someone I don't know, and then I realize, 'oh, I do know who they are,' so it's OK. "

RELATED: Girl Scouts return $100k donation after donor says it can't be used for transgender girls

Adults always have the responsibility of following the lead of the children.

Eleven-year-old Elizabeth Hamm has it all figured out. She says "if you want to hug them go ahead. If you don't want to hug them then don't hug them. It's your decision really."

Click here for the Girl Scouts' full statement on unwanted hugging.

Click here for more stories about the Girl Scouts.
Copyright © 2022 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.