Sexuality expert Deanne Carson wants parents to ask babies for 'nappy consent'
An expert in human sexuality has advised that parents ask their baby for "nappy consent" when changing their diapers. Deanne Carson, an author and educator, stated in an interview with ABC News that families should attempt to establish a clear "culture of consent" within their home early on, which should include parents asking for babies to consent to being touched by looking for non-verbal cues from them.
Carson stated: "Of course, a baby’s not going to respond, ‘Yes Mum, 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 clip was soon uploaded to YouTube, provoking intense debate about whether Carson was in the right or not. Many commenters were open to the idea of teaching body autonomy via Carson's proposed method, but others took the opportunity to ridicule what they saw as progressiveness taken to an extreme. In particular, Sky News commentator Rowan Dean lambasted the segment as "lefty lunacy."
On Twitter, it proved equally divisive. One user tweeted: "I think she wants to encourage a conversation about consent amongst kids, but has made a mockery of it by taking it to the extreme. babies can’t consent to anything. ever. they’re babies! their safety and survival needs are assumed. this is NOT a mainstream view of sex educators."
Deanne Carson is one of the founders of Body Safety Australia, a programme based in Victoria aimed at protecting children from sexual abuse. The organisation's homepage describes her as an "Author, speaker, and consultant in the areas of gender, sexuality education, abuse prevention education, and women and children's rights," and notes that she often works with children in the field of sex education.
Despite the criticism she has received, Carson has not been contrite about her comments, and has defended her advice. In a statement posted on Facebook, Carson said: "I gave an interview the other day about teaching consent to young children. Sadly, some people have chosen to ridicule me ... 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."
She added, "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."