Saturday, March 20, 2010

Hugging At School

I've written a few posts about public displays of affection at school, including this one from 2-1/2 years ago. In that post I quoted from a few contemporary stories about PDA and observed a couple of points: first, that extreme PDA makes you look immature and unable to control your impulses, and second, that there are appropriate times and places to hug and kiss people. There is a lot of good information, and many good comments, at that link.

Teaching at a high school, I see mild forms of PDA all the time--nuzzling, hugging, holding hands, kissing. If the kissing lasts long enough that I think it's excessive, I call the students on it. It's important that they learn what's appropriate and inappropriate in our society, and making out in the middle of the quad just isn't appropriate. I'm glad to report, though, that incidents of this are down significantly from when I first got to the school, although our new principal at the beginning of this year said in a faculty meeting that based on things he's seen on campus, he thinks some of our students should "get a room".

All of that is a prelude to another "school bans hugging" story. Do you think that sounds extreme? Read the details and see if you still do.

The hugs were out of control at West Sylvan Middle School.

Students could not pass each other in the hallway without a hug, the principal said. The girls were hugging one another all the time. Kids were late to class because of the hugs.

Classes would end, middle schoolers would eye a classmate at the other end of the hallway, "they'd scream, run down the hallway and jump in each other's arms," Principal Allison Couch said.

It was, Couch said, a virus of hugs.

So the principal banned hugs on the school campus in late February...

The policy may sound unreasonable to someone outside the school, she said, but if someone filed a lawsuit because of unwanted touching, a bigger news story would have resulted.

Schools can't look the other way with disruptive behavior, said Jollee Patterson, Portland Public Schools general counsel...

Couch, who has been principal at West Sylvan for seven years and a school administer for two decades, can perhaps look forward to the day of hugging normalcy.

But in the meantime, she concluded her memo to school colleagues by saying she'd treated the hugging in schools like a computer with a virus.

"If any of you have any ideas about how to reboot so that we can come back to it appropriately, I would sure love to hear from you."

Having taught for 6 years in junior high, I know the silly behaviors such students are capable of. The principal has reacted in a reasonable manner.

5 comments:

Eric W. said...

In that case, it seems like the hugging went from "We're friends, let's hug" to "OMG LYK WE'RE FRIENDS AND WE'RE MUCH BETTER FRIENDS THAN ANYONE ELSE BECAUSE I'M THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN THE WORLD SO LET'S BE LOUD AND OBNOXIOUS SO EVERYONE KNOWS HOW GOOD OF FRIENDS WE ARE AND THEY'LL THINK WE'RE COOL OH GOD I'M SO LONELY"

Approximately.

s said...

I live in Oregon, and teach-there was also a group of girls targeting boys with full-body presses to get a 'reaction' out of them, to put it nicely.............things that don't get disclosed on the media.. (and yes, their parents were called, to no avail)

Darren said...

Getting such reactions was mentioned in the full article. Clearly this hugging craze is, to quote Britney Spears, "not so innocent". :-)

Anonymous said...

Lyk omg you must have been in my hall of 9th graders lately! I just play the old curmudgeon and make them break it up.

Anonymous said...

The big trend at my junior high is "girl on girl". This has been true at dances for some time now thanks to MTV, and we have fairly effectively squelched it. However, it has spilled into our hallways with hand holding, kissing on the cheek and hugging. I need to show my principal this article.