A hug to Sal, whose husband Chuck died July 8, 2013.
HUGS, SPORTS, AND TOUCH BANNED Part 2
Hugs, Sports, and Touch Banned Part 2
(Read the first post at
The other day I started out to write a simple post on hugging and my Internet surfing changed my direction—I’m only now getting to where I wanted to go.
Arms were made for hugging… begins a television ad for a rheumatoid arthritis medication.
Perhaps the makers of this product and the producers of this ad should be sued because the ad’s message contradicts the message being touted in the first thirteen years of the 21st century in our culture:
- hugging is wrong, perhaps sinful, perhaps a crime, regardless of the circumstances, and therefore there should be NO TOLERANCE for hugging, an action which should be disciplined.
This message is often extended beyond hugging to horseplay and high-fiving.
Today’s schools students are not only taught Good Touch/Bad Touch—they are learning No Touch as schools continue to ban any activity involving touch.
In Milford, Connecticut, the East Shore Middle School principal sent out a letter stating that any touching at all on school grounds — including “hugging” and “horseplay” — could result in “parent conferences, detention, suspension and/or a request for expulsion from school.” Students say they are even prohibited from “high fiving” classmates in the halls.
I wonder if these schools have banned sports, or if they have a wrestling team. Wrestling is a high-contact sport in which many holds appear, to me, akin to hugging.
Banning hugging on school property isn’t unusual. Furthermore, it is often a NO TOLERANCE ban.
In one school a student was given after school suspension for hugging a friend whose parent had just died.
Palm Bay’s Southwest Middle School gave his female best friend a quick hug between classes, an action the principle believed was innocent. However, the dean penalized them with in-school suspensions.
School administrators said a committee of parents approved the “no hugging” policy years ago and there are no plans to change it any time soon.
- The policy stipulates that there is no difference between an unwanted hug, or sexual harassment, and a hug between friends.
A spokesperson said the school’s focus is on learning; therefore, we cannot discriminate or make an opinion on what is an appropriate hug, what’s not an appropriate hug,” said Davis. “What you may think is appropriate, another person may view as inappropriate.”
Does this mean that the policy is a laziness policy, freeing the teachers from not distinguishing between good touch/bad touch? I wonder how a good hug (comforting, celebratory) can be determined to be a public display of affection or sexual harassment.
A zero-tolerance hug policy frees school staff fro determining if a hug is innocent or inappropriate. Supporters say it takes the guesswork and favoritism out of the “no-hug policy.” How does a teacher determine whether a child wants to be hugged at school or not? How do we protect a child’s right not to be hugged? Is it possible for two teachers on duty and responsible for 400 students on the playground, to monitor ‘appropriate’ or ‘inappropriate’ hugs between students?
- These are difficult questions, but is the answer to enact a zero tolerance policy on hugging?
Teachers in England are taking it one step further by banning school children from keeping best friends. Instead, students are encouraged to play in large groups. The policy implemented in certain schools intends to avoid pain for children who experience break-ups with a close pal. Teachers want to save the child the pain of splitting up from their best friend.
Will all this protection of children backfire when they confront the harsh realities of the real world in their future? Will the social and legal restrictions over physical contact in our schools and workplaces may have unintended negative consequences?
Perhaps teachers should be concerned about the passing of germs and assault among kids, but hugging is an integral part of friendship. It says “You are loved” loud and clear when words can’t.
But perhaps society needs to be concerned about the long term effects and the child’s future relationships. Are they going to be loving parents and have loving relationships, when they grow up?? Will they be able to express their love to loved ones in years to come?
A wave of studies has documented some incredible emotional and physical health benefits that come from touch. This research is suggesting that touch is truly fundamental to human communication, bonding, and health… The social and legal restrictions over physical contact in our schools and workplaces may have unintended negative consequences.
There is not enough love in the world now. Don’t rip away the beginning of it. If they can’t love, hug, high five friends, is the hatred going to increase and in 5 years time to the point that they start taking guns to school instead, because all they know Is how to hate?
- Will future adults raised under a NO TOLERANCE no hugging, no-touch be able to deal with relationships?
…it is natural for some children to want a best friend. If they break up, they have to feel the pain because they’re learning to deal with it.”
War and torture are fine examples to set for the youth of America, but please — no hugging.
The connection made between people through hugs is healing.
So many of my friends and family are in need of this healing touch—or have something to celebrate.
On each future post I will send a “hug” to someone.
Read the second part of this post at
* The Power Of Touch, Diane Ackerman, Parade Magazine: March 25, 1990, pp 4