Comedian Russell Brand has argued how tickling a child without their prior consent should not be allowed, sparking debate among parents about respecting their children’s ‘bodily autonomy’.
Some were outraged at the thought of having to ask their kids for permission before tickling them, however others felt this raised an important question about consent.
Brand, it should be noted, does have a reason for his assertion.
I ticket my children, I love to hear their laugh. My daughter is 3, she tells me to tickle her & tells me when she had enough. My son is 5months I tickle him and he laughs & I don’t see a problem in any other family member tickling them either.@thismorning #ThisMorning
— meg. (@Meggyhillx) February 1, 2019
Speaking with the Daily Star, Russell revealed his regret at having tickled his friend David Baddiel’s son, Ezra, in the past.
The 43-year-old Get Him To The Greek star, now a father himself, reportedly said:
To recall doing this to Ez fills me with dreadful shame and makes me want to punch myself in the face.
Which is what I will do to anyone who tickles either of my daughters until they are old enough to decide for themselves whether they want to be tickled or not, which by my reckoning is at 35.
#thismorning tickling illegal? What next? Definitely promote a child’s right to say no but as if our legal system doesn’t have enough to deal with… can you imagine pressing charges… just what a child needs!!
— Gemma cattell (@GemCat1981) February 1, 2019
Russell’s friend, Writer and PR media consultant Lottie Daley, has now appeared on This Morning to discuss this divisive topic further.
Lottie reasoned how asking permission from her children helps them learn about the issue of consent:
When you start learning about body autonomy and consent for our children when they become a bit older, we should be modelling this behaviour from birth, like letting your baby know you are changing its nappy.
I want her to know that it’s her body. It’s not a case of them saying ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ it’s modelling that repetition and a habit of checking in with your children and making sure they are happy with what you are doing with them…
When I’m washing my daughters, who are a bit older, they are seven and five, when I’ve got to wash their bottoms, I do say, ‘Can mummy just wash your bottom?’ because sometimes you have to. And they say, ‘yes’ or ‘no.’
#ThisMorning I definitely think tickling should not be allowed on children I was tickled as a child and although u laugh it feels like some form of torture. I hate it so much. I believe it causes children to have a stutter and on babies it should definitely not be allowed.
— stephanie antonio (@stephan75813665) February 1, 2019
Lottie also spoke about her daughters’ apprehension about being tickled by a person other than their mum:
I asked my children, ‘Do you like tickling?’ and they said, ‘Yes.’
And I said, ‘Would you like it if someone else did it?’ and they said they would be scared… because it wasn’t me.
Lottie proceeded to state how parents should consider the issue of consent long before their kids become teenagers:
We need to rethink the wider issue of consent, it’s not just applicable to teenagers, it’s applicable from birth. I think we should start to ask those questions and when you look at the wider context, we need to.
— kira butcher (@kirabutcher) February 1, 2019
However, Vanessa Feltz – who was also in the studio – was of a different opinion altogether, arguing how tickling is ‘the ultimate in innocent love’:
As far as I’m concerned I think it’s an absolute shame that we have to mix up tickling a child that we know, you have to be on tickling terms with the child you don’t just swoop in and tickle a child you don’t know.
But tickling is the ultimate in innocent love, care, fun, physical contact with a child that you love and they love you.
Am I invading their space? No!
Cracking up at this poor woman trying to put across her serious opinion about tickling being bad on @thismorning and they just really rubbing it in with a giant Mr tickle dancing next to her! 😂 pic.twitter.com/SRqyuTDHG3
— Shibbyface (@Shibbyface) February 1, 2019
Where do you stand on this ticklish subject?
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.