Ask Your Baby's Permission Before Changing Diaper, Says Sexual Consent Expert

A sex education expert has sparked a debate on sexual consent, after she argued that parents should ask children for permission before changing their diapers.

Deanne Carson, who works for an organization which teaches children about consent, appeared on Australia's ABC news network to comment on Saxon Mullins, whose rape case sparked a national debate on sexual consent laws. Carson argued that parents should teach their children about consent as early as possible.

"We work with parents from birth...Just about how to set up a culture of consent in their homes. 'I'm going to change your nappy now, is that OK?' 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," she said.

Deanne Carson pictured on Australia's ABC news network speaking about consent. ABC

Carson, who describes herself as a sexuality educator, speaker and author on her Twitter profile, works with Body Safety Australia. The organization works to prevent child abuse and educates children from kindergarten through high school age about consent and respecting boundaries.

"In empowering children with their rights' while educating families and professionals, the burden of responsibility is placed squarely on adults to protect children," the organization's website states.

The segment was later discussed on Australian news channel Sky News, where Rowan Dean, editor of The Spectator Australia, magazine dubbed the suggestion "lefty lunacy."

Following the interview, Carson hit back at critics on Facebook.

"Sadly, some people have chosen to ridicule me (oh no! Pink hair! Must be a lesbian!) and the notion of giving infants bodily autonomy (poo in nappies har har amiright?!) [sic]," she wrote.

Carson quoted statistics reflecting how common sexual abuse is among children, and said the work her organization does follows 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," she said.

Katie Russell, a spokesperson for the non-profit sexual violence organization Rape Crisis England and Wales, told Newsweek that Carson's overall message had been misunderstood. Carson didn't appear to be suggesting that diaper-changing is a sexual act, or that a baby is capable of communicating their consent, said Russell.

"She's simply making the very reasonable case for establishing a 'culture of consent' in households and with children from the youngest possible age," she said. "This is about both getting parents and carers into positive habits of not assuming consent from their children and about teaching children that they have a right to decide what happens to their bodies."

Russell added, "When we know child sexual abuse is so widespread, it's hard to understand why simple, respectful practices like this, aimed at reducing and preventing future harm to children, would be so ridiculed."