I am aware of a baby who was taken into foster care around age 6 months. All the experts were convinced she was so mentally challenged that she would never live a normal life. After being in foster care for a few months, the foster mother adopted the child. That child went to college and has a very productive life. The difference in her life was someone who cared and showed her she cared. Before foster care the child was left in her baby bed and rarely cared for. After foster care, the child was loved, held, properly fed and cared for and blossomed.
There is a wealth of verifiable information about the value and impact of touch. It does not have to be sexual and in fact sexual touch without love and commitment is actually harmful. Cuddling with someone you are sexually interest in is sexual in nature.
I was very naive as a teenager and very sheltered. After I married, I realized that I had innocently caused quite a bit of stress to the two very nice, Christian young men I had dated in high school by placing my hand on their thigh when we sat together. I had no idea the emotions I had caused. When my husband explained that to me, I was very embarrassed and felt such awe and respect for these wonderful young men who always treated me with respect. So, when raising my daughters, I made sure they understood the power of touch and the impact of their touch on men.
I am an outgoing person and I often touch other people...hugs, pats on the back and/or shoulders...but the lessons I have learned in life make me monitor my actions out of respect for others and myself.
Just my two cents. Very interesting topic.