Kids across Britain are going back to school today (6 September), and may indulge in a game of kiss chase. The rules are simple: you run after your crush and get to kiss them if you catch them. If they say "stop," you can't run after them anymore.
Parents are weighing in on whether the pastime should be kissed goodbye, reports the Daily Mail.
The game is at the centre of controversy after a parent reported her daughter was "pinned to the ground" by a playmate during a particularly rough session.
Australian journalist Cat Rodie wrote that her six-year-old didn't want to take part in the game. However, a group of boys started chasing her anyway, grabbing up, pinning her down to kiss and tickle her.
Both the teacher on duty that day and Rodie's initial response was to laugh the incident off because kiss chase was "just a game."
"Why are we teaching kids that it's totally fine to pin someone down against his or her will? That they should just accept it when someone hurts them?" Rodie wrote in an opinion piece for the Sydney Morning Herald. For the journalist, the familiar game is only fun if everybody is on board. Kids' complaints about kiss chase should be taken seriously. Rodie made the parallel between her daughter's story and problems regarding the meaning and understanding of consent in later life.
Parent Jane Hunt disagrees. She thinks kiss chase could be a positive vehicle to launch conversations about consent. "I get sick of things being banned when they can be used to start such positive conversations, like that of consent," she told the parenting podcast Mamamia.
Talking about her own daughter, Hunt said: "I really want Peggy to grow up understanding in no uncertain terms that no means no, no matter who is saying it."
She took the example of wrestling a game Peggy plays with her father: "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."
Schools have banned games like tag and kiss chase before.
In 1999, a UK school banned kiss chase because it was too violent and introduced quieter games for its pupils. Head teacher Susan Tuck said the games were "chose by the pupils" and "safe and fun". However, at the time, one pupil interviewed by the BBC was not too keen on the new and improved playtime: "The good thing is that lots of people can't get hurt but the bad thing is it's pretty boring at playtime and you can't have as much fun as you used to be able to."