We live in a society where there is an institutional paranoia about touch. I have heard this from teachers who are not allowed to use touch to comfort a distressed child and seen it becoming increasingly the norm in Child and Adolescent Mental Health, both in out patient and in patient settings.
I see this fear of false/misunderstood accusations as actually increasing the risk of abusive touch because when touch does occur be it coming from positive or negative motives it is done in secret and not talked about.
Many years ago when I worked in a therapeutic community, some staff gave hugs and some didn’t as a rule and it was their choice. I was able to practice aromatherapy doing back massages in a setting where others could see what I was doing. And here is the important thing, It was talked about. If a young person was always asking for hugs, this would be discussed. If the hugs were always from the same member of staff this would be discussed. Possible sexual elements to hugs would be talked about along with things like who did the young person really want a hug from, e.g. an absent or dead relative etc.
Touch is an important part of life and of healing, both emotional and physical. (Rub it and it will make it better!)
This is an important part of my philosophy as an aromatherapist and massage practitioner. The other key to this is essential oils. There is the therapeutic effect of the oils that are absorbed through the skin but in emotional healing, perhaps even more important is the aroma of the oils which act on the Limbic system within the brain.
Massage and Aromatherapy deserve to be talked about much more in a society where whatever touch is like between friends and relatives, it is increasingly shunned in our institutions, even those which are caring for those who need it most.