Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Let's hug it out!

Well, thank goodness our educators are finally starting to address the important issues…like hugging.
Yes, you heard me right. Apparently, excessive hugging rates up there with violence, drugs and failing grades.
A suburban Chicago school has become the latest to ban student hugging inside the building. Victoria Sharts, principal of Oak Park's Percy Julian Middle School, says rampant hugging has created traffic jams in the hallway and made kids late for class. The newly-established hug-free zone is apparently a small part of a comprehensive discipline and anti-bullying plan. Sharts claims that while hugs are supposed to be handshakes from the heart, they don't always seem so innocent.
"Too long, too close, and usually between boys and girls," Sharts said.
Say what? Boys and girls? Hugging? Oh no! Next thing you know, dogs and cats will be living together...it'll be mass hysteria folks!
Sadly, Julian Middle isn't the only school where "public displays of affection" have become the hot topic. Over the last two years, schools from Des Moines to Cornwall, England, have asked students to cut back on hugging, hand holding and even high-fives. In Fairfax County, Virginia, a middle school student was threatened with detention after he put his arm around his girlfriend's shoulder.
"I think it's kind of like if you let the camel put his head in the tent, next thing you know, the camel's going to be inside the tent," said Principal David Hadley of Fossil Hill Middle School in North Texas, another school on the no-hug bandwagon.
Not sure what that means, but I'm guessing it's fear that some hugs could lead to sexual harassment. Anyone seen the classic 80s flick, "Footloose" with Kevin Bacon? Me thinks these schools might soon ban rock music and dancing because, well, it could possibly lead to sinful behavior!
Whatever their reasoning, I feel the hug-ban is ridiculous and draconian. It seems like administrators are so scared about potential lawsuits that they're trying to create this perfect world for children - free of anything that could ever prove threatening or hurtful.
When I was a kid, we used to play dodgeball and musical chairs and playground tag. Many of those games - including duck-duck-goose - are now considered aggressive and unwholesome and even emotionally damaging to children. As a result, kids today often do "team-building" exercises in P.E. How will children ever learn to handle life in the real world if they never experience real-life issues like failure?
Schools are supposed to be an environment for both academic and social education. And hugging is a normal form of expression. Sure, some kids might hug others for more sexual reasons, but banning it altogether won't fix the problem. And if teachers and administrators are truly more concerned about the tardiness factor, why not use punishments like detention to prevent kids from loitering? That seems a better way to discourage this type of behavior than banning healthy social interaction between children.
I guess all those school resource officers can now devote their time to policing physical contact rather than keeping an eye on drugs or criminal activity within the student body.
On a happier note, check out the "Free Hugs Campaign," which started with one man and has since spread around the globe.

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