By contrast, Gill Tree is the author of the Pro-Touch Manifesto.
Gill introduced formal infant massage instructor training into the UK 18 years ago, as she had become aware of the desperate need of parents with prematurely born babies to bond with their offspring. Those gentle early moments of touch and massage have profound effects.
Indeed babies who do not receive touch at an early age may suffer marasmus and wither and die. Premature babies who receive daily massage often go home 5 days early due to rapid weight gain. A cost saving to the NHS of up to £5million a year. Now infant massage is used in hospitals, and many mums learn how to massage their new-born babies safely
Cultures which embrace touch within their society and who carry babies on their back, are more likely to be non-violent.
“Touch builds the foundation for the complex and intimate interchange between infant and caregiver, supplying the infant with a beginning interpretation of the world and the relationships on which he comes to rely for survival.”
(Brown 2000) – Positive Touch – Containment Holding Guideline/ Quality Care Group/ 2012
James Prescott developed the means to predict with 100 % accuracy whether a culture would be violent or not simply by looking at whether the infant was carried on the body of its mother or caretaker combined with whether or not adolescent sexual activity was permitted or punished.
“The presence or absence of touch is not only the distinguishing factor between a healthy and well adjusted individual or a violent one, but also how cultural practices regarding touch are responsible for creating either violent or non violent societies.” James Prescott, NIH Violence Research Initiatives
So is there a direct link? Certainly we are in danger of becoming fearful of touch. What is appropriate and what isn’t?
• Teachers of primary school children are no longer allowed to put sun tan lotion onto their charges.
• Teachers report they are reluctant to cuddle a child when it is crying?
• Are we now so fearful of touch that we don’t know how to use/apply comfort?
• Moving into adulthood, if a child has not learned how to comfort others or be comforted him/herself, then how will they know in turn what is appropriate and what isn’t.
Rather than legislating against all touch, education for our youngsters about inappropriate touch is key.
The NSPCC has created an underwear rule with PANTS guidelines:
Privates are private
Always remember your body belongs to you
No means no
Talk about secrets that upset you
Speak up, someone can help
Leading by example we should show our youngsters exactly how to receive appropriate touch and where the boundaries are.
Gill Tree is the founder of Essentials for Health. www.essentialsforhealth.co.uk
• Essentials for Health is the most prominent massage school in the UK
• Gill introduced the ‘Positive Touch’ program aimed at Nurses working with premature babies in neo natal units 18 years ago
• Gill has won a variety of business and entrepreneur awards for her massage business ‘Essentials for Health’
• Gill is now an established public speaker, thought leader and ambassador for massage in the UK.
Gill and has recently produced a ‘Manifesto for a pro-touch society’ which will be presented to the Department of Health this year http://gilltree.com/manifesto/
• Gill has launched the National Massage Day on 16th May with the week preceding this a Nationwide Roadshow teaching carers how to use massage in therapy.
Photos of Gill are available
Contact Liz Harwood