Kid's petition against school's "No hugging" policy

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52 Responses to “Kid's petition against school's "No hugging" policy”

  1. hermia says:

    My high school banned opposite sex hugging back in 1988. They specified no hugging between opposite sex students, but not same-sex hugging. I thought that was ridiculous, so I organized a same-sex hug in during lunch in protest…

    I was hauled into the principal’s office where I produced a copy of the rule. Needless to say the administration was irritated that they couldn’t punish me because I hadn’t broken their riduculous rule, but they also rethought and eventually overturned the original ban.

    Bans like this solve nothing. They simply serve to sexualize what is, for most kids, an essential part of friendship. I hope she succeeds.

  2. osmo says:

    Wait their not allowed to touch each other? This must be in the US right? The land of the side-hug :D

    Also how many kids making out does it take to clog up a hallway? Is this some kind of tiny hall way area or just very fat kids?

    (On topic: Wonderfully written petition)

  3. Michael Dawson says:

    When I was at Primary school, (5 years old to 12 years old) from 1980 to 1988 we weren’t allowed to sit on each other’s knees during assembly, but apart from that I don’t remember any specific rules regarding touching.

    I remember thinking the rule was a little unfair, but also that it only seemed to affect a few people as there weren’t a lot of boyfriends and girlfriends for the kids under 10.

    I think mostly it made the teachers uncomfortable, and perhaps they didn’t want to get in trouble with the parents.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The petition is incredibly well written. The person behind it will probably be very sucessful

  5. princessalex says:

    How sad. Hugging is natural for teens, as a way to say hi to their friends. How terrible to say they can’t even do that. :(

  6. Anonymous says:

    That is a very eloquent and powerful petition. She sounds like she is far too clever for school. She could become a political speechwriter.

  7. SAMO1415 says:

    If I recall correctly, the reason this particular school banned hugging was because kids were doing it all the time, to the point where it was becoming a distraction. I’m not joking, nor am I agreeing with the ban. Imagine kids hugging and hugging and hugging until they’re late for class. It was getting out of control.

    There was a similar situation in another school where kids were all saying the word, “MEEP” like the muppet Beaker. This word was subsequently banned. We’ve all been in school and seen ridiculous and silly trends which eventually get out of hand.

    • Anonymous says:

      Imagine kids hugging and hugging and hugging until they’re late for class. It was getting out of control.

      What a wonderful thought. Having a great deal of familiarity with the relative benefits of high school classes and hugs, I think I’d prefer to send my kids to the “out of control” school!

      Really, I an obsession with “control” is never good in a school system. Sure, you can (very effectively) argue in favor of hyper-controlling parents a la “tiger mom”, but outside the family it’s not even arguably good. It’s just oppression and pre-conditioning for slavery. The best teachers have no need for enforcing control – the kids want to learn from them and will do whatever s/he asks (I saw one of these teachers just yesterday – it was life affirming!).

      There was a similar situation in another school where kids were all saying the word, “MEEP” like the muppet Beaker. This word was subsequently banned. We’ve all been in school and seen ridiculous and silly trends which eventually get out of hand.

      Forty years ago, when I was in school, and people were comparing mood rings and throwing pet rocks about and such, the schools just waited the fads out instead of enacting rules certain to be disobeyed and resented. Despite this horrifying show of institutional tolerance, somehow my generation still got a good enough education to create the Internet and put rovers on Mars.

      • SAMO1415 says:

        I’ll continue to play devil’s advocate on this one, since no one else wants the job: I’m sorry I can’t find a reference for this, but I remember the kids hugging because they knew it was driving the teachers nuts, almost out of spite (like the MEEPING, believe it or not). I know it sounds crazy, but its apples and oranges when compared to pet rocks, or snap bracelets, or what have you.

        The only analogy I can make is about a kid I knew in 6th grade. He kept getting up to sharpen his pencil over and over and over. He was doing this just to be goofy. The teacher banned him from using the pencil sharpener and gave him a pen. BOOM. Done.

        The students were being annoying with the hugging. The admins banned hugging. They’re there to learn, not to be dramatic with the hugging.

        • knappa says:

          Your example is flawed in the sense that the kid sharpening was banned, not the entire school. The school in the article is, at best, having a hysterical reaction over run of the mill student silliness because they don’t know how to handle kids. Someone who can’t handle the fact that high school kids do stupid, silly things, has no business teaching in or administering a high school.

          • Anonymous says:

            Knappa, his example is not flawed. In this case the entire school, save for a few unpopular students were excessively hugging. It was becoming a completely ridiculous mess.

  8. nicejob says:

    Interesting that there is no attribution in this posting, and really no way of determining if this student actually exists. No name of school. No name of student. Fact, or really excellent fiction?

    • gradster1 says:

      I actually personally know this girl. We’re both from the same area. Northern Vermont. You being a skeptic, I know I can’t actually convince you of this, but hey, it’s the truth. =shrugs= She’ll probably be on the news soon, anyway; CBS just called her a few hours ago.

  9. Maggie Koerth-Baker says:

    When I was in high school, we had a “6-inch rule” which stipulated that you always had to be at least 6 inches away from a member of the opposite sex. No touching at all.

    Of course, that was fundamentalist Baptist high school.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The problem is that in the US, everything is codified to obnoxious levels. We have lost the idea of common sense, and have to regulate everything because of a few.

    I was in a high school in the late 80s that banned hugging…why? Because guys would be openly folding their girlfriends in the hall. Touching of ‘sex organs’ was prohibited, so guys would rub up against their girls with hugs in an obnoxious and sexual manner. When punished for it, they would claim it was a hug — not sexual — and one of the biggest douchebags that was given a detention over this brought in a lawyer. And thus hugs were banned because it could be codified in a way that didn’t require subjective interpretation of the act in progress.

    We have people all the time testing boundaries…and I was one of them. If the rules are not clear, we try to see how far we can go — knowing all the time that we are up against the line and not wanting to admit that with unclear boundaries the line is going to be placed subjectively according to the individual interpreting it.

    We want our freedom to do as much as we want without any rules at all and claim not to be purposely disruptive, but expressing ourselves…and then want the exact opposite when someone we don’t particularly care far does the same thing and disrupts our sensibilities. Like it or not, most given the reality of the unfairness and unevenness of how these rules are interpreted — most want a boundary that can be defined.

    Me? I’m the opposite. I want try anarchy…I am smart enough to create my own rules and follow a moral ethic. I also want the ability to force others that I don’t have the same baseline intelligence or ethical code to be force into following some kind or ruleset. Oh wait…that isn’t different at all…

  11. Anonymous says:

    The more draconian the rules, the less respect the next generation have for rules and laws in general. Ban hugging, and 20 years later you have drug deregulation! Yay!

  12. catgrin says:

    Kudos to the author of the petition. I wish her success.

    Teen years are stressful, and back then I was one of those girls who knew (and still do know) mostly guys. Before graduation I was living in a car, not because I’d done anything wrong – my parents had divorced, sold the house, and left me in a bad situation. If I had been isolated from the friends who I associated with more closely than my own family, I might not have made it through. Believe me: not every girl is making out with the guy she’s hugging. Sometimes, she’s just trying to get through the day.

    P.S. I’ve grown up to be the cousin that my (much younger) cousin seeks out for a hug when I show up and leave my aunt’s home. Of all my family on my mother’s side, we’re the only ones who hug every time we say “hello” and “goodbye.”

  13. Anonymous says:

    I’m not saying that the rule is necessarily a good idea, but these things don’t happen in a vacuum. In a highschool you’re dealing with a mixed population of kids who actually want to learn and kids who spend more time trying to subvert learning (I was perhaps somewhere in the middle :) ). You’re also dealing with mixed ages from 14-18 year olds in most schools. This also says nothing of the PR battle continually fought with parents. I can appreciate the passion of a 17 y/o feeling oppressed, but maybe a 17 y/o can’t fully appreciate the depth of an issue.

  14. princessalex says:

    > Imagine kids hugging and hugging and hugging until they’re late for class. It was getting out of control.

    Then, there should be a blanket consequence for being late, unrelated to hugging.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps I’m just cynical but I imagine the school’s only motivation is to prevent a lawsuit. It would only take one puritanical-crazy parent with too much free time to force the school to spend a bunch of money lawyering-up. After all, Americans enjoy suing each other for sport.

    • Anonymous says:

      After all, Americans enjoy suing each other for sport.

      [citation needed]

      According to the numbers they showed us when I was on jury duty, the number of lawsuits prosecuted per year per unit of population has been going down in the United States for more than a century. We have fewer lawsuits every year once you adjust for population growth.

      The idea that “America needs to reign in lawsuits” is being sold by the corporations, who wish to avoid legal responsibility for poisoning the planet and its people. Are you buying what they are selling, or are you interested in the truth?

  16. SAMO1415 says:

    >Then, there should be a blanket consequence for being late, unrelated to hugging.

    Apparently you haven’t been to a middle school or high school lately.

  17. Anonymous says:

    To me this comes almost as a cultural shock. Such a thing would just not be allowed here.

    In my college years it was all too natural for everybody to hug and kiss.
    People make out in the school yard. Just not inside the class.

    You can see how that kind of policy just seems ‘way strange’ to me…

  18. redstarr says:

    Seems to me that this is just going to make hugging a WAY bigger deal than it should be. I know when I was that age, the quickest way to get me all fired up about doing something was to have the authority figures say I couldn’t or shouldn’t.

    The rule in my high school was against ‘public displays of affection’ and actually did cover hugging if you took it literally enough, but it was only ever enforced if the hugging was much longer than the average friendly hug and was really obviously a couple hanging all over each other. As long as you weren’t being gross about that, it was cool. And even if you were, you just got a “Knock it off, you two.” from the teachers.

    Sounds like maybe some school administrators could use a hug?

    • wnoise says:

      Seems to me that this is just going to make hugging a WAY bigger deal than it should be. I know when I was that age, the quickest way to get me all fired up about doing something was to have the authority figures say I couldn’t or shouldn’t.

      Hmm. Perhaps the administrators are counting on this. If everybody is rebelling by hugging, then they won’t rebel by doing things that are actually dangerous or inappropriate.

      Nah, that would be giving the administrators way too much credit.

  19. wylkyn says:

    By all means, let’s have the teachers and administration take the time to judge every case on an individual basis. They have nothing but time to examine all the nuances of every individual student’s physical relationships. Uh huh…sure.

    Yes, this is a very well-written and impassioned petition. And the administration will surely empathize with her plea. But it doesn’t change the facts. The reason why the rules are black-and-white is because to judge each case individually either takes too much time, or misses important details. You can’t have justice without time spent examining the facts. School staff don’t have that kind of time. End of story. We don’t have those one room school houses anymore folks. Most schools are already understaffed and are still getting rid of personnel. They are going to err on the side of what seems easier to control. It sucks. So change it. But to do so, you are going to have to do more than send out petitions.

  20. tylerkaraszewski says:

    I wonder if this rule also applies to the football (and other contact sports) teams.

  21. Nadreck says:

    I clearly remember the first time a human touched me for purposes other than slamming their fist into my face and so on: it was in University and from (gasp!) a member of the opposite gender. It was in no way sexual but nevertheless a Good Thing. As someone who grew up policed by severely mentally ill people who couldn’t tell the difference between sexual and non-sexual touching (nor tolerate any ambiguity of any kind on any subject) I’m of the opinion that such policies should be targeted by class-action lawsuits alleging child abuse.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m sure the people who are panicked by hugging would have no problem with people punching each other. Those afraid of anything even resembling sexuality for some reason seem to approve of casual violence.

    • Kimmo says:

      +1 #1 : D

      I clearly remember the first time a human touched me for purposes other than slamming their fist into my face and so on: it was in University and from (gasp!) a member of the opposite gender. It was in no way sexual but nevertheless a Good Thing. As someone who grew up policed by severely mentally ill people who couldn’t tell the difference between sexual and non-sexual touching (nor tolerate any ambiguity of any kind on any subject) I’m of the opinion that such policies should be targeted by class-action lawsuits alleging child abuse.

      Somehow I found this comment more compelling than the points made in the petition. Neglecting the responsibility to judge cases on merits in this way can amount to outright abuse.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I think that she has earned the respect to be called other than a “kid”. I think maybe she should be referred to as a woman.

  23. Anonymous says:

    When hugs are outlawed only outlaws will hug.

  24. SAMO1415 says:

    *it’s

  25. Anonymous says:

    I can’t believe how rigid these conservative Islamic societies are. Oh right, this is in the US.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Soon they will ban dancing in this town and then only one person will be able to save them, Kevin Bacon.

  27. Rayonic says:

    Not to drag even more politics into this, but I’m curious if this problem would get better or worse in a school voucher driven system. I figure there’s two possibilities:

    a) The most popular schools are the ones with the strictest rules. “Think of the children!”

    b) Parents pull their kids out of schools with retarded rules like this. “No hugging? Come on.”

    I suppose there’s a third scenario, c) Both types of school are popular and parents simply have more choice.

  28. ZippySpincycle says:

    This girl is the Rosa Parks of hugs

  29. Anonymous says:

    The school in question is Mansfield Union High School in Jericho, Vermont. Today, a 15yo boy committed suicide in a school bathroom there. He was a special education student according to some fellow students. Many of the early comments being posted by current and former students allege that the school’s upper administration has a history of treating students with special needs and mental health issues with callous indifference, and even with trying to force some out of the school entirely rather than trying to support them. That an overbearing rule against human contact was enacted seems to be keeping with their reputation. Sounds like it’s time for a full-on investigation to either indict or clear them.

  30. insert says:

    It’s unconscionable that the school wouldn’t even allow the Christian side hug!!

  31. Arys says:

    The thing that really bothers me about these stupid flat out bans is that it really does nothing to encourage or create any sense of common sense in young people. Sure, the teen(s) that came up with the petition seem smart enough but doesn’t this kind of ban just encourage the stupid to remain/be more stupid?

  32. Anonymous says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDS-ieLCmS4

    Barry Schwartz on “Using our Practical Wisdom” (small TED talk)

  33. Calimecita says:

    Wow… just wow. No wonder US people are shocked when they come down here (Argentina) and find that we greet everyone with handshakes and kisses, and very frequently with hugs. Most of them like it once they get used to it – some absolutely love it, so much so that they become almost a different, happier and more relaxed person the minute they step off the plane in Ezeiza airport.
    The friendly, kind touch of another human being is an amazing thing. I can’t imagine what not experiencing this could do to people (but I bet it would be something that psychiatrists would study).
    {{{{Hugs}}}} from Argentina :-)

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      If I don’t see my relatives for a decade, they might, maybe, venture a brief handshake. Old-fashioned New Englanders.

  34. hungryjoe says:

    These educators and administrators have lost their way. Now they’re in the banning and ban enforcement business, instead of the education business.

    When my wife and I were in high school, male teachers would stand in the hallway with a ruler. They would make girls wearing skirts or shorts kneel, then measure the amount of exposed leg between the ground and the edge of the garment. We all thought that was sick, but no one listens to teenagers, so…

    On a separate but related note, does anyone know where to find statistics on the number of lawsuits per capita per year in the US, and how those compare with countries other than the US?

  35. Anonymous says:

    We need more intelligent articulate teenagers. ☺
    (Post-teens, too.)
    Keep on thinking free!

  36. Meermaedchen says:

    I’m kind of confused here. Is it _normal_ to ban things like that in the USA? I’m from Germany, and I can’t even imagine my school (or any school) banning smooching (or however you may call this), let alone hugging! Many people I now hug every morning to say hello and every afternoon to say goodbye, and if it’s someone’s birthday around 20 people will line up to congratulate and, yes, hug them. I don’t even see the point where exactly this is bad. What the hell, America, what the hell >.>
    Also, although the petition is quite nice, the approach is confusing too. She isn’t even questioning that “sexual” hugging would be bad, she actually writes that you have to differentiate between the “good” and “bad” kind of hug. Are kissing couples really such a huge problem? Why would anybody be annoyed by that? It’s high school, not a retirement home.

    • ariel says:

      Well a lot of schools ban “Public Displays of Affection” but usually that’s more for couples making out than giving someone a hug. A quick kiss wouldn’t get you in any trouble, at least not at the high school I went to (a public school in the midwest). You might get yelled at if you were making out, but there probably wouldn’t even be any real consequences from that aside from the student maybe being embarrassed.

      Honestly, most schools have much bigger issues to worry about…kids who bring drugs to school, get in fights, vandalize property…Oh and I think they are supposed to be trying to actually make sure that kids learn something.

      Speaking of ridiculous school policies…For a year or two, my school decided that they should require all students to wear IDs around. If you forgot your ID card you had to get a temporary ID from the office before you were allowed to go to class. The only detention I ever get in H.S. was for forgetting to return my ID card by the end of the day, instead turning it in the next morning. It’s not like there was anyone at the door checking your ID card as the students were pouring in in the morning, so I don’t see how it made us any safer. It was such a pointless policy. Luckily, they eventually realized that, too.

      As if kids need another reason to hate school.

  37. BookGuy says:

    First step? Free hugs. Second step? Crystal meth. Hugs are a gateway drug. Finally, someone’s thinking of the children.

  38. AnthonyC says:

    This sounds like just another take on Zero Tolerance policies: rather than take the time to distinguish between different forms of any given behavior, just abdicate responsibility and mindlessly punish and ban all forms of said behavior.

    It’s never a good idea, for *exactly* the reasons this girl describes. It teaches blind, unthinking obedience instead of careful thought, and provides no guidance at all for adult life.

    • millrick says:

      “blind, unthinking obedience instead of careful thought”

      isn’t that exactly what America wants of it’s voters / consumers?

  39. penguinchris says:

    I’m happy about this, but wanted to put in my two cents in reply to all those saying she’s a great writer and that she’ll surely be successful in the future.

    Well, yes, I agree. But, this sounds like it was written by a high-school senior. You really couldn’t mistake this for being written by anyone else, except perhaps a university student (one who isn’t an English or humanities major, anyway). Now, is that bad if it’s well-written? No, but the naivete and lack of a full understanding of the world shines through brightly :) I do of course fully approve of going all-out on things like this no matter how small a matter some may feel it is – that’s a classic subversive technique, to treat all matters the same no matter how big or small.

  40. Anonymous says:

    That petition is so well-written, measured, mature, and potentially effective, that it REALLY feels like the lame mindset that created these black-and-white rules in the first place has just been schooled by its itelluctual superior!

    Noice!

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