The modern attitude seems to be that anyone who isn’t the direct parent should neither touch nor show affection for a child. It is an over-reaction to media coverage of what are actually somewhat rare cases of child molestation – not that such crimes are rare, but the extreme cases the media uses to get ratings are. This mania has changed the way people can relate to children who are not their offspring, and led to a certain sterility in the relationship of adults to children.
When I was a child I was routinely hugged and kissed to exasperation by aunts, uncles, and even strangers. I myself have always found little kids to be like puppies and kittens: they were made to be fondled and loved, otherwise why are they so cute? But after several uncomfortable confrontations with adults (never the parents) I have consciously become distant toward children for my own sense of safety.
In the U.S., anyway, we seem to have turned into an affectionless society because of our fears of being misunderstood. And so children grow up in that sterile environment and become isolated from other people.
When I see news stories about kids committing mass murder I think “there – that’s what our fear of ourselves has led to”.
It really is sad that we seem to be so afraid of each other, even on such a fundamental basis as outwardly showing affection to a child or getting to know a fellow worker. Over the years I have learned not to touch other people’s kids and not to invite female co-workers to lunch, etc., because a certain number of times it will lead to these negative reactions that are mainly based on erroneous perceptions engendered by a jaded and sensationalist media.
And so now we all love each other over the Internet, because that’s “neat and clean”.