That social scourge, hugging, was put in its proper and rightfully shamed place by one New Jersey school this week.
The Principal of Matawan-Aberdeen Middle School in Cliffwood, New Jersey banned hugging after officials determined that too many students were engaged in “unsuitable, physical interactions” while hugging. The superintendent of the district, David Healy, said the restriction is a response to specific incidents that violated policies on inappropriate relationships.
“We have not, nor will we be, suspending students for hugging,” Healy said in a statement. He added that the Board of Education does have policies in place to address bullying, inappropriate relationships and inappropriate conduct.“We have a responsibility to teach children about appropriate interactions and about having a structured, academically focused environment.”
All sarcasm aside, I agree wholeheartedly that school needs to be a safe place for children and teens. And as these groups are notorious boundary-pushers, I applaud the school for taking a stand on appropriate behavior. However, a hug is a fundamental of human society: a greeting, a comfort, an acknowledgement of regard or of esteem.
Surely the better alternative would have been to ensure the children knew what an “appropriate” hug was and what it wasn’t? Teaching boundaries, appropriate behavior for public places and creation of an open dialogue would probably be more effective than an outright ban on hugging. What’s next? A movie starring Kevin Bacon about the School That Wouldn’t Hug?
Photo credit: D Sharon Pruitt on Flickr