Are Schools Going Too Far By Banning Hugs and Hand Holding?
The Today Show recently posed this question in an online poll. Of the 5,215 people who responded, 84 percent said banning hugs and hand holding is 'ridiculous and a waste of time'. The remaining survey respondents disagreed, saying public displays of affection are 'inappropriate at school'.
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Banning Physical Contact
Is there a difference between good and bad touching? Some schools say no and have gone as far as banning every form of physical contact imaginable.
For example, Kilmer Middle School in Fairfax, Virginia, recently banned all forms of touching - including high-fives.
'You get into shades of gray,' Kilmer Principal Deborah Hernandez told the Associated Press. 'The kids say, 'If he can high-five...I can do this.' '
It may sound extreme, but Kilmer isn't the only school with a no-touching policy. Fossil Hill Middle School of Fort Worth, Texas, just made a decision to ban hugs and hand-holding on school grounds, and similar policies were just initiated at schools in Iowa, Florida, and even England.
One middle school in Illinois has not banned hugs, but does prohibit what they refer to as 'extreme hugging' in hallways.
Violators are punished in different ways depending on the school. Suspensions and detentions are common. In one St. Louis school, the math teacher acts as a referee in the hallways and blows a whistle if he sees anything inappropriate.
Students at some schools, like the middle school in Fort Worth, have started circulating petitions with support from their parents. There are, however, some who support the bans and insist they are necessary.
Attorney Thomas Mickes, whose firm represents 300 school districts in Missouri, says concerns over sexual harassment have prompted many schools to enact and enforce physical contact policies.
'The question becomes, how do you tell a boyfriend and girlfriend situation from something else?' Mickes said in an interview with StLouisToday.com. 'So the answer is, we don't have any of it go on.'
A Sue-Happy Nation?
In a recent Harris Interactive poll of 500 teachers and 301 principals nationwide, 82 percent of teachers and 77 percent of principals say teaching and policy decisions are motivated by a desire to avoid lawsuits.
Out of fear of lawsuits, Maryland schools have banned dodgeball, Michigan has banned sledding, there are 'no running' signs on the playgrounds of some schools in Florida, and teeter-totters are almost impossible to find anywhere.
Are we such a sue-happy nation that schools need to worry about recess games and high fives leading to a day in court?
If the bans are any indication, the answer must be yes.