When you live in a culture of fear, even student hugs and helpful teachers are viewed as threats

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I’m bothered when I read that some schools are banning students from hugging and (via danah boyd – and be sure to read the comments) other schools are banning any contact between students and teachers during “off-hours,” including any contact via non-school-hosted online forums (i.e., Facebook).

The assumption that hugging is aggressive behavior and the presumption of deviant motives of any teacher who would make themselves available to answer questions from students on Facebook are just two more examples of how fear-based regulations and rules that are instant responses to “crises” — real or imagined — often crush opportunities and positive results that could be achieved if cooler, more reasoned heads prevailed.

Are those schools trying to protect students who don’t want to be hugged? Are those schools trying to protect teachers who don’t want to be bothered by students outside the classroom? If so, they’ve chosen a rather ham-fisted solution.

Let me get this straight: I’m in no way suggesting that real issues — real deviant adults and real aggressive teenagers — did not create situations thatled to the specific hugging and friending bans reported in these two accounts. What I’m saying is this: I believe that bans on all hugging and all teacher-student “off-hours” collaboration will result in far more harm than good.

  • Hudge

    The no-contact movement has been under way for some time – reminds me of Bill Cosby’s frazzled parent character hollering at his kids as they poke each other in the car’s back seat “I don’t want anyone ever touching anyone else ever again!” Handshakes, high-fives, low-fives, hugs, recess games like tag – it’s all hands-off. I’ve seen reasons – to avoid sexual harassment, deter gang activity, reduce “intimidation” and “isolation” of less-popular students who aren’t greeted with enthusiasm. As for adult-children, the 7-word reason there is “lawsuit.” All of which treats symptoms of a variety of serious ailments, without coming close to the ailments themselves.

  • Hudge

    As I said: http://www.ajc.com/news/content/shared-gen/ap/Feature_Stories/US_ODD_Unwanted_High_Five.html?cxntlid=thbz_hm

    What do you call a high-five that misses? Many would just call it awkward, but an El Paso school principal calls it assault. The misfire came last week when schools superintendent Lorenzo Garcia was giving principals high-fives while celebrating state test scores. When Garcia came to Barron Elementary School principal Mary Helen Lechuga and she didn’t raise her hand, he tapped her on the head instead.

    But Lechuga — a former district administrator who was recently demoted — filed a police complaint saying she felt pain and feared what he might do next.

    Garcia said she’s a disgruntled employee and her complaint is petty.

    The El Paso Times reported Thursday that school district police are investigating.

  • This is absurd. In a world where schools can’t seem to keep weapons out of the building, and can’t properly discipline out-of-control bullies, wouldn’t they want to encourage students’ caring for one another, expressing comaraderie, building close ties, treating each other with concern and friendship, etc.?

    Are these same schools forbidding hugs and other physical congratulatory (or conciliatory) gestures on their sports fields? Will dancing while touching be off limits soon too, at school-sponsored events? Can handshakes be far behind? What about in phys ed – will spotting kids on gymnastic equipment be disallowed?

    Oh well, there’s a solution, I guess. Kids will one day soon just wind up just staying home all day, doing schoolwork on computers, never touching in any way. Yeah, that will ceratinly fix things.