Schools Begin to Ban Hugging: Have They Gone Too Far?
6 months ago
Stateside and overseas, there's a new no-touch rule
A 12-year-old student was recently given detention for hugging her classmate after the school bell rang.
The Adam Road Primary School in Australia punished young Amber Rome for her quick embrace, as doing so violated its no-hugging policy which, according to acting principal Gemma Preston, was introduced after parents complained of children being "bruised" from "excessive hugging"—an act that had also become "disruptive to classes."
Dr. Fran Walfish, a California-based child, couple and family psychotherapist, understands that though who is showing affection (and where) can vary, the school's regulation is within reason.
"Hugging inside the classroom is disruptive to teaching—it should not be allowed," said Walfish. "On the playground, hugging is a very different thing. Girls enjoy hugging a friend for companionship; boys enjoy putting their arm around a friend at that latency age from 7 to 12 years, but hugging can quickly turn into rough-housing and aggression. Some school administrators do not know how to enforce reasonable boundaries. In this case, officials find it easier to take the position of zero-tolerance."
Though Adam Road certainly isn't the first to enforce such a ban, other institutions haven't done so as successfully or skillfully.
One day in March, students came home from Matawan-Aberdeen Middle School in New Jersey telling parents stories about an announcement made by the principal over the loudspeaker: ‘We are a no-hugging school. This is our new policy."
Soon after, parents received a recorded message from the principal too, this time with what sounded like a retraction: “Hugging can be inappropriate and we want to make sure that there’s no inappropriate physical contact. We certainly do not have a policy against hugging nor do we intend to or have we suspended students for hugging."