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"Kiss chasey should not be banned in schools, it's a way to teach children about consent."

Jane Hunt can remember playing kiss chasey back when she was in Reception.

“It was a laugh,” she says. “I have no negative memories and remember trying desperately to catch a boy called Seb, in particular!”

Now mum to four-year-old Peggy and two-year-old Fred, Hunt doesn’t think kiss chasey should be banned in schools. In fact, she sees the game as a good opportunity.

“I get sick of things being banned when they can be used to start such positive conversations, like that of consent.”

Hunt got in touch with Mamamia after hearing Andrew Daddo and Holly Wainwright talking about kiss chasey on the parenting podcast This Glorious Mess.

Their discussion was sparked off by Cat Rodie’s story about her six-year-old daughter who told a group of boys at school that she didn’t want to play the game but was chased, pinned down, tickled and kissed. Wainwright mentioned that some schools had banned kiss chasey, but both she and Daddo felt torn over whether that was the right thing to do. That led to a discussion on talking to children about consent.

Hunt, a former nanny, says consent is “super important” to her.

Listen to the discussion in this week’s episode of TGM. (Post continues after audio.)

“I really want Peggy to grow up understanding in no uncertain terms that no means no, no matter who is saying it,” she says.

Peggy wrestles with her dad Jono “constantly” and has been doing it since she could crawl.

“I’m not sure who loves it more,” Hunt says. “The rule has always been, if anyone ever says ‘stop’, you stop. Even though most of the time when she says ‘stop’ she is giggling madly and doesn’t really want the game to stop, we stop. Two seconds later she will say ‘GO!” and it’s game on again.

“The lesson is pretty basic. We want our girl to grow up with the understanding that if she says stop and the other party doesn’t, there is a problem.”

Hunt believes kiss chasey is “innocent fun”, but the normal rules still need to apply.

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“Games like this just provide a wonderful opportunity to start or reinforce a conversation regarding consent and personal boundaries.

“Bring on the kiss chasey!”

Child and adolescent psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg agrees with Hunt about kiss chasey being a “wonderful opportunity” for exactly that kind of conversation. He doesn’t think the game should be banned, but kids should make sure everyone who is involved wants to be involved and is enjoying it.

“I think in the olden days we just assumed that we could run up to anybody, kiss them and run away,” he says. “I think that the zeitgeist has changed significantly.”

Dr Carr-Gregg believes parents need to do something to counter the “avalanche” of online porn. He says that according to cybersafety expert Susan McLean, the average age that kids are now seeing this is 11.

“I’m seeing in my patients, the older patients, significant changes around their sexual behaviour, and I’m really worried about it,” he adds.

Dr Carr-Gregg is concerned that kids are getting the wrong messages about sexual relationships from online porn, so discussions about consent need to start earlier.

“Around about the time they’d be playing kiss chasey, it would be a really good idea to start saying, ‘Well, you know what, people have personal space, and you need to be aware of that. There’s some people who like to be hugged and there’s some people who don’t, and there’s some people who like to be kissed and some who don’t. It’s a really good idea to ask.’

“I think it’s a really important thing. I’m putting it on a par with teaching kids how to swim, teaching them how to use the internet safely and teaching them how to cross the road. I think this respectful relationships stuff needs to be taught early.”

Listen to the full episode of This Glorious Mess.

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