An author and educator has been ridiculed after saying parents should ask babies for consent before a diaper change and watch for a response through body language.
Deanne Carson said in an ABC News segment that families could set up “a culture of consent” in the home by asking newborns: “I’m going to change your nappy now, is that OK?”
The CEO of youth relationship service Body Safety Australia added: “Of course, a baby’s not going to respond, ‘Yes Mom, 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.”
The segment was highlighted on Sky News Australia’s Outsiders show, with Rowan Dean introducing the clip with a dig at the rival channel. “This is just superb and it was on YOUR ABC earlier this evening, which you paid for this leftie lunacy, have a look,” he said.
“There we go Ross, consent for changing nappies,” he told co-host Ross Cameron. “I’m sure that that would, I think that might get a bit, er, anyway we won’t go there.”
The video was shared on YouTube, racking up more than 20,000 views, before Carson made a statement on Facebook in response to her vocal critics.
“I gave an interview the other day about teaching consent to young children,” she said. “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?!)
“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.
“Troll me all you want, add to your blog inches, but remember that when you do, you are negating the voices of these brave survivors of sexual abuse.”
Her remarks elicited a mixed response, with one Facebook user commenting, “What you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard,” while another said, “You’re doing such an excellent job, hence the reason they’re trolling.”
Danny Snee said it was “an insult to genuine sexual assault victims to compare their experience to a baby having a nappy changed without giving the right expressions.”
Skye Chalker said she was a survivor of sexual abuse and thought Ms Carson “possibly could be” going too far with her teachings, but believed that “teaching children what is ok touching and not ok touching and if they don’t feel comfortable they should say something is a good thing.”
A group called Facts Without Frenzy said Ms Carson was “right on the money”, adding that they had seen “similar denigration of other educators who work in similar areas such as sexuality education and the awful trolling and outright misplaced hate directed their way.”
But former NSW senate candidate Kirralie Smith posted on Facebook: “This goes way beyond lunacy! This is neglect and child abuse!!!!
“Many children never want you to change their nappy. Asking them for consent is a serious indication of severe mental problems. Nappies must be changed to prevent serious skin damage and pain for the child.
“What is worse is the fact the ABC actually spent our tax dollars on this moronic opinion.”
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