LifeCycle Events: Marriage and Sexuality: Negiah and Little Children:
At what age do the laws of Negiah begin for boys and girls?At what age is it no longer permissible for a man to arry a girl, or for a woman to touch or carry a boy?
Technically, the laws of Negiah (and Yichud for that matter)
begin for a girl from the age of three and for a boy from the age
of nine. But what is prohibited is to touch a member
of the opposite sex "in an intimate manner", Derech Chibah.
For example,a doctor or nurse may touch a member of the opposite
sex (even in non-emergency situations) during the course of an
examination, since this is non-intimate touching). Touching a child,
even in a loving way (holding the hand, pinching or kissing the cheek),
is not considered "intimate", if that action is appropriate for a child
of that age. For example, it would be perfectly acceptable for an uncle
to hold his six year old niece's hand, but not his 16 year old niece's
hand. A boy who is a counselor in a camp for little children would be
permitted to hold the hand of a four year old girl, but not necessarily
of a seven year old girl.
Issues of modesty can be very complex. It may be worth purchasing one
of the many publications available on the subject to get more of an