And I would agree. There is nothing inherently sexual in the act of kissing itself. There is, in all things, a need to consider the intent behind the act. A Sydney based clinical psychologist, Heather Irvine Rundle, echoed these sentiments in an interview with news.com.au suggesting that “It’s an outrageous thing to say to parents. It absolutely does not take into account a special relationship that parents have with their children and the non-sexual nature from which that particular behaviour comes.”
She goes on to say that,
“It also fails to take into account cultural issues as well. We know we come from a culture in which the idea of cheek-kissing and lip-kissing is something that’s kind of OK, but if you move to northern parts of the UK and particularly in parts of Scotland, that’s a really comfortable thing for people to do even into adulthood. It’s not sexual at all and I think the fact that it’s something we’re happy to do in public means that there’s nothing sinister about it.”
I must confess that I was unaware of this cultural divide within the United Kingdom, if indeed her observations are correct (please feel free to disabuse our Australian friend with your views in the comment box below), but the general point stands.
Ms Irvine-Rundle was keen to point out that lip-kissing was very different to kinds of touching that would be considered abusive to children.
“We teach kids that the type of touch that isn’t OK is the type that has to be kept secret, that (the child) can’t tell anyone about. It’s a touch that makes the child feel uncomfortable but they’re not allowed to say anything about it. As soon as you make it a secret you know you’re heading down a pathway that could potentially be abusive … and if you are doing anything that you wouldn’t feel comfortable telling a doctor that you’ve done, because they may see it as (being) wrong, then potentially what you are doing as a parent isn’t appropriate. But if you feel that it’s OK to do it in public — and you’re open to public scrutiny in those places — and it’s not of an abusive nature, then it just comes back to what’s appropriate within your family’s norms and values, and that may differ to others.”