14/08/2014 12:57 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 06:12 BST

Don't Force Kids To Kiss Granny - High-Five Her Instead, Says Sex Education Group

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Grandmother and granddaughter hugging

Parents who force their reluctant sons and daughters to give their grandparents a peck on the cheek may be opening them up to future sexual exploitation, it has been claimed.

Instead, they should be giving them a high-five, waving or blowing them a kiss!

The controversial (some might say 'ridiculous') view comes from Lucy Emmerson, co-ordinator of the Sex Education Forum, who says kissing granny blurs the boundaries of what is acceptable when it comes to physical contact.

She said children need to learn from the start about the importance of consent and that 'their bodies are their own'.

Writing in the Sex Education Forum's termly e-magazine she responded to the news in the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles that one woman in five and one man in 20 in Britain had experienced attempted sex against their will.

Miss Emmerson said it raised questions over when children should be taught about consent.

She added: "I believe learning about consent starts from age zero.

"Much is learnt by young children from everyday experiences about whether or not their opinion is valued and if they have any control over physical contact with others."

She cited a recent blog by author Kasey Edwards, Stop Asking My Daughter To Give You A Kiss. This suggested that parents automatically go along with social rituals such as a child being told to kiss a relative, friend or even a stranger.

Miss Emmerson wrote: "Intervening may be awkward... but it is necessary if we are truly to teach children that their bodies are their own and that their instincts should be followed.

"Suggesting alternatives to the child such as a high-five, a hug, blowing a kiss or a wave put the child in control.

"If we can't manage to create a culture of consent for everyday physical contact, it will be surely be a tall order for sexual situations."

Dr Meg Barker, a psychology lecturer at The Open University who co-edits the journal Psychology and Sexuality, also warned in the e-magazine: "At the moment coercive practices are quite commonplace in everyday lives unfortunately, from friends and family members kissing and cuddling kids when they don't want that to happen, to friends and family trying to persuade each other to engage in social events that they don't want to go to through guilt and manipulation."

However, family campaigners described the recommendations as 'ridiculous'.

Margaret Morrissey, of ParentsOutloud, told the Mail that kissing relatives was 'something we need to preserve, because it's part of being a caring family'.

She added: "Parents are very sensible and know exactly what's appropriate for their children. The Sex Education Forum is trying to take any kind of human feeling and kindness out of the way we bring up children and that's really sad.

"If a child isn't taught through the family connection how to show appropriate affection, then they're going to have a very difficult time when they become teenagers and adults."

And Norman Wells, director of the Family Education Trust, said: "Even if the distinction is lost on the Sex Education Forum, children and young people are able to recognise that there is all the difference in the world between self-consciously– and perhaps on occasion reluctantly – kissing an uncle or aunt on the cheek on the one hand, and accepting unwanted sexual advances on the other."