“No Touching” at High School? A Student Protests!

Hi Readers: I’m so proud of this high school student — for what she’s doing and also all her clear thinking. The points she makes about her school’s no-touching rule could be made about most Zero Tolerance laws. Be prepared to cheer! – L

Dear Free-Range Kids: I am a senior at a a small New England high school. A few days ago, the administration implemented a new rule: No physical contact at any time. The only appropriate touch, we are told, is a handshake. Presumably, this is to thin out the kissing couples who clog up the halls. I have no problem with that. But am I wrong in thinking that banning all touch goes too far? This morning I was in the library and saw a boy and girl studying at a nearby table. She had her arm around his shoulders.  A librarian rushed over and loudly harangued them. They were forced to sit two feet apart for the remainder of the period.

As a college-bound 17-year-old, I am insulted by the presumption that I am too immature to decide which kind of touches are appropriate for school. If the administration seriously thinks we can’t make that distinction ourselves, how do they expect us to survive in college?

I’ve written a petition, which I plan to put into circulation the week after next (next week is midterms). I’m pasting it here, and I’d love your thoughts.

* * *

We, the undersigned, call for removal of or significant amendments to the new “No Touching” policy at our high school. The case for our request rests on several points:

  • Interpersonal touch is not inherently sexual, and to treat it as such is to make it so. Touch can be a powerful bonding mechanism between friends, and any rule that fails to differentiate between acts of sex and acts of friendship seems arbitrary and inherently draconian.
  • High school students will soon be turned loose and made responsible for their own decisions. Is it not the responsibility of educators to impart valuable life skills and ready us for autonomy? Outright bans are not the way to do so. Rather than be taught to see interpersonal touch as inherently bad, we should learn the nuances of what is and is not appropriate for public venues. Don’t force us to look at the world in black and white. Show us the shades of gray.
  • Imposing limits on interpersonal relationships merely divides “school” and “life” into separate and often warring factions. This further alienates many teens who already fail to find much real-world meaning in school. School should be a holistic place in which social as well as academic needs are met. If we’re expected to integrate education into our lives, we should be allowed to bring our lives into our place of education.
  • According to the World Book encyclopedia, “[m]ost teenagers mature psychologically at the rate set by their society. As a result, psychological adolescence normally lasts at least as long as the period of legal dependence.” In other words, micromanaging merely infantilizes us. Trust us to differentiate between appropriate and inappropriate touches, and we won’t let you down.

152 Responses

  1. Wow. SMART girl. She will go far in life.

  2. Fantastic! Wow, this young person should be running the schools. They have a much clearly way of thinking than most administrations.

  3. you’ve got my vote.

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  5. Just a couple points on wording. I’d change this: “Is it not the responsibility of educators to impart valuable life skills and ready us for autonomy?” from a question to a statement in order to keep a consistant style throughout the petition. I would also get rid of every use of the word “we” or “us” and replace it with “young adults” or “teenagers,” simply because this will sound more formal, and again, is more consistant. Otherwise sounds good… Good luck!

  6. Sorry- to be 100% clear, when I said get rid of “we” I didn’t mean “we the undersigned”… I just meant occurences within the bullet points.

  7. I’m 100% with you. Unfortunately, the time is near when it will be up to girls like you to educate your peers, seeing as neither their parents nor their educators are quite as up to it as you.
    Good luck!

  8. I agree with everything the petition says. Schools are just getting weirder every year.

  9. Congratulations, and the best of luck to you.

  10. This no-touching rule could make it very difficult for the wrestling team, if they have one, to compete.

  11. Superb job and I hope it works. No touch rules are absurd. Humans touch. Done appropriately, it’s a normal and needed part of life.

  12. I’d sure appreciate a follow-up on this!

  13. If schools want to stop public displays of affection, why don’t they just implement a “No Sucking Face in the Hallway” rule instead of “No Touching”? There’s an obvious difference.

  14. Excellent work! Many adults will be humbled by your clear and honest perception. Continue to stand up for what you believe in!

  15. wow . . . There really is such great hope for the future!!!

  16. Amen, sister. I like your point about black and white rules not preparing young people for the often very grey world of adult relationships. When I was in high school I had a number of people who thought my decisions needed to be made for me, and I felt like “How am I going to make these decisions for myself 2 years from now if I can’t make any part of them now?”
    By the time a kid reaches mid high school we have either already succeeded or failed to teach them whatever we were going to teach them about life. The last few years are for supervised practice.
    Good luck!

  17. Slightly off-topic today, but I think Surviving the World does a great job of arguing Free Range Kids’ main point.

    http://survivingtheworld.net/Lesson859.html

  18. Excellent wording. I hope it works out for you.

    You are the most inspirational person I don’t know that I have ever heard of.

  19. Beautifully done. Learning about touch and its many forms and meanings is one of the most interesting, exciting and challenging things in life.

    I know it’s been said in this forum before, but anything that leads children to think that all touching is wrong is just as damaging as what you’re trying to protect them from.

  20. Once again it’s good to know I was born 35 years earlier than these kids – and in a different country! We had our games of tonsil hockey in the hallways, but it was no big deal.

  21. *standing up and cheering*

    Now THIS is the kind of future I want to see for our world – way to go!

    ———————————–
    My photography is available for purchase – visit Around the Island Photography and bring home something beautiful today!

  22. Speaking as a former English teacher, that’s an excellent petition, well-written and persuasive. I agree with Meagan’s suggestions for rephrasing, but overall: well done!

  23. first of all I think what you have written says it all,

    my suggestion would be to call on the UNICEF Rithts of the Child (I suggest Article 29-31)

    http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/crc.htm

    good luck

  24. I agree that the school needs a narrower rule or some other way of getting kids to stop the sexual touching in school. But, I am kinda glad to see a school actually trying to stop the “PDA” (public displays of affection). There was a rule against it at my school, but many people ignored the rule, and it ticked me off – especially since my locker was frequently blocked by a young couple “sucking face” between classes. If you’re “mature” enough to behave that way, you should be mature enough to be considerate to your classmates. Nobody wants to see it, in school or in “real life” (e.g., at work).

    I also believe that schools exist to teach academics, not to foster intimate relationships of any kind. A rule of thumb might be what would be appreciated in a workplace. The example of the couple with arms around each other wouldn’t fly in the library of a law firm, or even behind a McDonald’s counter. So I fail to see why it is necessary in a school library. There’s a time and a place.

    Free range doesn’t mean no limits or guidelines at all. It certainly doesn’t mean freedom to be as inconsiderate as you please, or to make life-altering choices beyond one’s maturity level. And sometimes, freedoms need to be curtailed when kids prove they cannot handle them yet.

  25. I think the petition is fantastic and wish the writer much success. As far as a “policy” about stopping kids sucking face in the halls, how’s this? If a teacher sees kids making out, they say, “Hey, kids, stop making out.”

    I don’t think you really need much of a formal institutional response to kissing.

  26. I went to an all-girls school where I did not see much kissing in the corridors or the locker rooms.

  27. Well done! I would only suggest that in your petition you include what you want the new rule or the amendments to be. For me, a rule of thumb when protesting a school policy is to 1) object politely 2) clearly state the reason you object and 3) suggest what it SHOULD be. You’ve covered 1 and 2 very well.

    The purpose of 3 is to give the school some guidelines (remember group/committee/school board thinking tends to be unorganized and get hung up on “Well, what should we do now?”) It also gives you some say in the new policy. Including some options in the petition that are acceptable to you for them to choose from is a good way to get what you want but leave the school thinking that they are in control. Just my 2 cents :)

  28. “Interpersonal touch is not inherently sexual, and to treat it as such is to make it so”

    You got to the heart of the matter in the first sentence.
    Well done and kudos to you for taking a stand against such absurdity.

    The US wars with fundamentalist societies, but apparently aspires to making theirs into one.

  29. Such a smart girl. Such a stupid rule. I feel like we are moving backwards in time, and soon people will be wearing scarlet letters as symbols of their need for human touch. Sigh.

  30. “I also believe that schools exist to teach academics, not to foster intimate relationships of any kind.”

    I can’t help but think that you really hated childhood, which worries me a little since you are raising children. The BEST thing about school is the development of intimate relationships – not necessarily romantic relationships; but definitely close friendships. I can’t recall learning a single thing at school. I’m sure that I did since I’m not a complete idiot but that is not what I remember from my childhood years. I remember the friendships and, yes, juvenile boyfriend/girlfriend relationships, most of which developed originally at school. I remember school dances and proms, both of which kinda require touching. The social aspect of school is one of the major reasons that I would never, ever in a million years consider homeschooling my child (there are others and I’m not going to enter into an argument over the supposed wonders of homeschooling; homeschoolers and I will have to agree to disagree on that). If all I wanted was academics, I’d hire a tutor for a couple hours and keep my kid at home. It’d be a whole helluva lot more effective than school (public or private) for teaching strictly academics.

  31. The boarding school that I attended many years ago implemented this exact policy. You wouldn’t believe the amount of hand-shaking that went on afterward.

  32. As a teacher, I really dislike when students use a dictionary or encyclopedia to point out a definition. It always seems immature. I suggest finding a study to quote instead of an encyclopedia. (Personal opinion.)

  33. Very nicely done! Good luck!
    A few thoughts:
    Don’t use the word teenagers (someone suggested above). Instead, use “youth” “Students” “young adults” etc. Teenagers is the word people associate with all the bad stereotypes, and brings up images of irresponsibility, disrespect, wild behavior, etc. You don’t want those images in your readers head! Other words have much more positive connotations.

    I agree you should suggest some alternatives to the rule.

    You could also include some very practical settings where the rule would be impractical: ALL sports (imagine football with no “touching!”), how about comforting a friend in grief? Maybe in mention how important touch is to health and well-being.

    Finally, consider sending it as a press-release to a local newspaper. That kind of pressure on the administration might be powerful!

  34. I would skip the petition and go for a hug in. Blast a little Beattles and let them suspend you all.

    Its the same policy as network television: violent shows, (or in HS, wrestling, football, etc.) are fine, but love between adults is regulated. Sigh.

  35. Good for her. I’d sign her petition for sure. And I hope all students and parents support her. What she says in that petition is absolutely true. It’s sad and scary that the educators of this school have failed to see that, and thereby failed in their responsibilities as EDUCATORS. They have just made themselves DICTATORS with no common sense. They are or will be affecting these kids lives. High school is tough enough already. That every little thing these kids can hold onto to get by emotionally and mentally holds importance. So instead of being a negative influence, these administrators need to make it a positive thing.

    I often what goes on in these people’s heads. We were all kids once, and what we went through isn’t much different from what kids go through now. But how we were dealt with, and what our restrictions were, were no where near the turmoil kids go through now. Just imagine a world full of grown adults, who have been lead to believe that social interactions are wrong. That no one can be trusted. And that this world is so dangerous, that everyone should fend for their own. All because some insecure, power tripping, no common sense adults have molded the kids they influence in their own image.

  36. such a powerful example of standing up to nonsense intrusions into our lives- perfect for MLK day!

  37. Your school is supposed to be teaching you about your first amendment freedom of association. Yet, they are (probably) violating it by not allowing you and others to choose how you interact with each other. How can a school purport to teach you about your civil rights while violating them?

  38. @ Jessica: I agree. She should get the local media involved.

    @ SKL: I’m a little surprised to hear you say that. High school is the starting point of every youths life in finding themselves. What goes on now, went on in my day, it went on in my parents days, and my grandparents days. This isn’t the 19th century (or earlier). Sharing and learning about intimacy in your teens is as normal and part of our culture, as much as learning to drive, being left alone at home for the first time, birthdays, halloween, christmas, and yes, even your first kiss. Now that doesn’t mean your hitting “second base” (or further) right in the middle of the hallway. But to go outright and ban all forms of intimate contact, whether it be a kiss, a hug, or even holding hands, is so…well…not with the times. This social interaction is all part of the education process. It may not be part of the school curriculum, but it’s a mandatory course in the school of life.

  39. I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on whether the best part of school was the romance. (I agree that friendships are important, but they don’t require a whole lot of body contact or exchange of saliva.)

    Intimate displays of affection are still normally private, except in the halls of the high school. What uninhibited teens do in front of all their classmates could be done just as intelligently (sarcasm) in a private venue. Some consideration for those who just want to get their books out of their locker and be on time for the next class?

    As a taxpayer, I shell out a lot for those 12 years of mandatory “education” that, for most kids, isn’t gonna happen outside of the public school classroom. Methinks they could catch up on remedial intimacy in lots of other venues, without tapping into government coffers. And if it makes it a little harder to do stuff they shouldn’t be doing anyway? Fine with me. Can you tell this is a pet peeve of mine? They opened a whole HS for GLBT students in NY, while I wondered, what does their sexual preference have to do with algebra? Like I said, we’ll have to agree to disagree. But yeah, I got all the way through HS without once feeling the urge to “suck face” and I don’t regret it at all.

  40. My name is Trevor Tamsen I work for New England Cable News. I would love to talk to the author of the petition, and help her get the word out.

    Any one have any ideas on how to contact her?

    She can contact me at ttamsen@necn.com

    Thanks

  41. Absolutely Brilliant, I wish I could sign your petition. I hope it sparks off a trend of kids deciding to stand up and not take this sort of junk. Go Girl!

  42. I’m imagining school dances are going to be a bit problematic with this policy….

  43. SKL – it’s the principle of the thing. I don’t want my ability to hug a friend taken away because others can’t control their sexual urges. I wholeheartedly agree that making out in the hallways is disruptive; my school’s halls are very narrow and it’s hard to get around the couples. But to place all physical contact under the same sexual umbrella is too extreme.

  44. I second the MLK Day aspect of this post. Very timely.

    SKL- Harvey Milk HS has to do with protecting people from physical abuse not promoting romantic love.

  45. SKL – When my friends in high school were upset or depressed and needed a hug I gave it to them. Why should teenagers today be deprived of the comfort that comes from friendship? Our school just told people to stopping making out in the halls or the students themselves told people to “get a room.” Not difficult. This rule is absolutely moronic.

  46. Wow. What an intelligent letter and petition. It’s impressive that they were written by a high-schooler. Stand up for what you believe, girl!

  47. Bravo! I second the idea of something like a ‘hug in’ or getting everyone to engage in plenty of physical contact.

  48. SKL, I know youv’e been corrected on the “High school for gay kids” nonsense before.

    There’s no such thing in NYC. You’re thinking of the Harvey Milk school, which is an alternative high school for those students who are unable to get an education in a normal school because they are being bullied and harassed, and may not even be *safe* at a normal school.

    Many of those students are GLTBQ, yes – but not all of them, and that’s certainly not a requirement to attend.

  49. You are so far ahead of the people who purport to educate you that you may find your petition dismissed on the grounds that it’s from a young person. After all, these people certainly show no respect for the students when implementing such asinine, puritanical policies.

    I recommend levering your intelligence and tech advantages in your protests. adbusters.org is a great source for ideas, but here’s one: instead of a hug-in, run a series of flash mobs in which students touch. By the time the admins can get to the one group, they’ve disbanded and another one is hugging somewhere else on campus. No way the tech-retarded adults can keep up with the youth. Hell, I vote you even get the face-suckers involved for a make-out mob or two.

    Honestly, what is with people growing up and fearing a little PDA? I resolved years ago only to use the phrase “get a room” when two people were fighting, arguing, or otherwise demonstrating negative behaviour. My guess is US society would be a lot healthier is more people engaged in acts of wanton public affection.

  50. Wonderful petition! Its a very clear and cleverly put argument.

    It really blows my mind that schools would ban hugging. Homeschoolers are often asked with horror “What about socialization?!”. I don’t think this would be an environment in which I’d want my kids “socialized” in.

  51. Kiddo, you are too smart and motivated for high school. Leave those chumps behind and go to Simon’s Rock College:

    http://www.simons-rock.edu/

    I did, it was worth it.

  52. It is a sad state of affairs indeed when young people are called down for showing love and friendship toward each other. This young lady’s appeal gives me hope for the future. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying I would like to give her a hug, and a thank you for standing up for what she knows to be right.

  53. People seem to be ignoring SKL’s first sentence:

    “I agree that the school needs a narrower rule or some other way of getting kids to stop the sexual touching in school.”

    Or maybe people are misreading it — I understand her to say that she agrees with everyone that the rule needs to be narrower, but then goes on to express her feelings about why a rule against *sexual* touching is still needed.

    The analogies she gives — a workplace, a public place — are all places where you can give a friend a hug if needed, but it’s generally frowned upon to engage in snogging in front of other people.

  54. Just to clarify, my first comment was that the school rule was too broad.

    As for the Harvey Milk school, when it was first announced, the popular argument was that everyone’s sexuality has to be “out” in HS or you’re not living your life. Which is ridiculous in my opinion. Even if you find the same sex attractive, why does that need to be brought up during school? That’s not the place for it, in my opinion. I admit that a kid who is being severely bullied would be best served in a different school (it doesn’t have to be an “alternative” school though). But if it’s due to his own choices, e.g., intentionally parading something he knows will upset others just to draw attention to oneself? Outside of mental illness, I have no sympathy for that. Just bathe (that was controversial in HS for a while), comb (that too), dress conventionally, and keep your sexuality to yourself for 180 first shifts a year until you finish HS. It can be done! Really!

    And you can have a social life without making a colorful statement all the time. Personally when I was in HS, the things that interested me most about others were their hobbies, families, jobs, career hopes, reading list, etc. Not how they dressed and certainly not anything to do with their sexuality.

  55. Time for a school “touch-in”. Collective disobedience of silly rules will make their silliness plain.

  56. The girl isnt smart, its the american system of life that is totally stupid =) That girl is – in European standars – totally normal! But hey, hope you get to touch each other soon again!

  57. SKL —
    First off, hiding one’s sexuality, whether they be straight or gay, is not very healthy. Do people you work with hide the fact that they are married, or that they may be in a relationship? If a friend at work has lost a loved one, had a child, is getting married, do you refrain from giving them a hug? I hope not. We are human. Why should kids, especially kids in high school, be forced to suppress the slightest bit of attraction they may have for someone, or that they care about a friend of theirs. I agree that the open mouth kissing in the hallway can become an issue. But hugging? I’m a guy, and when I was in H.S. 10 years ago, I saw no reason why I shouldn’t be able to give a male friend of mine a “bro” hug if I hadn’t seen them in a while, if they got in to a certain college, or if they scored the game winning free-throw the night before. We are human and the most important thing in the world is our relationships with our fellow humans. Let’s not try to hide that.

  58. GeekAaron,

    You are a genius! No touch wrestling! The sport of the 21st century. It’s how mimes work out. :)

  59. She certainly deserves a pat on the back. Oops! A handshake.

    I would be curious to know whether the no-touching rule applies to teachers and administrators as well. Is a brief touch on the back/arm to get attention or redirect focus acceptable? If the rule does not apply to school staff, the difference reinforces the petition’s infantilization argument.

  60. Hmmmm…so how is a gay student’s preference for clothing any different from a student who’s straight? Or their personality from another’s? It’s high school, EVERYONE feels the need to be accepted (one way or another, and whether they admit to it or not). I’ve known plenty of teens who were very flamboyant (not gay), either because they were trying to impress others, or that is who they really are. I also know teens these days who do exactly the same things in all the high schools in my area. No matter how popular you are, there will ALWAYS be someone or some people who don’t appreciate the things you do. That’s just life. As we all know as well, that’s just not limited to teens. We find it in our adult lives as well. Our work place, social venues, even family gatherings. Does this mean we are all to shun anyone that offends anyone else because of their preference? Whether it be taste in clothing, type of personality, or even sexual orientation. No one can control being gay, no more than we can control ourselves from being straight. People are people. We all bleed red, we all feel pain the same way, we get sick, and we laugh. The sooner people stop making distinctions, the better off we’ll be as a human race.

    I agree with SKL that the rule is pretty broad and should have been more specific. In the sense that sexual interactions should be refrained. That’s the slobbering type making out, grabbing here and there situations. But holding hands, the affectionate kiss before parting ways to different classes, you know the AA rated version of public affection shouldn’t be made a big deal about. I don’t get how sitting in a library shoulder to shoulder, warrants a boisterous reaction of disapproval from a librarian. Unless she’s one of those librarians that’s still a virgin at 40, and never married or even kissed a boy. Then that makes sense. “If I can’t have any, no one else can.” lol I don’t think these administrators were taking anything into consideration and just banning physical contact all together. It’s less for them to have to control. Again, not for the kids, but for the convenience of the adults.

    Now if others take offense to this, if they are like all the other kids I’ve known to take offense, is only because they haven’t had the opportunity to do it themselves. Classic case of “disliking others for doing or having something you can’t or don’t have”. That’s high school for you. Just like bullying, cutting classes, and house parties when the parents are away.

  61. I find that gay teens and straight teens are often held to very different standards when it comes to “parading” themselves. I have many gay and lesbian friends, and I see firsthand how difficult their relationships can sometimes be because of double standards like these. A boy and a girl kissing is sweet young love, but two girls kissing means they’re “making a colorful statement.” The personal is NOT always political.

  62. I am pretty sure that during the previous height of hysteria, back during the Victorian era when people doing courting had to be chaperoned at all times, non-sexual touching was still allowed both between men and women, men and men, and women and women.

    But hell, we got more people in prison than any society in the world or in history and we are spending $1 million per soldier on all these wars, let’s be the most clueless douchebag society in history regarding innocuous touch as well! Make this the most mentally ill and worst society ever, we can do it if only we try hard enough! We are almost there!!

  63. As well constructed as this petition may be it will likely fall upon deaf ears. A committee that instated this absurd policy to begin with is likely impervious to the clarity of thought presented above.

    What were these educators thinking when they put this laughable policy into force? That teaching young people touching others is taboo? Why, that’s a great idea! Way to sterilize human interaction….

    If I was a parent with a child attending this school, I’d pull them out in the blink of an eye and enroll them at a school that understands the importance of readying youth for the REAL WORLD.

    Teach kids not to touch or be touched and you have a generation of overly sensitive, closed off, individuals who run straight to the HR department when someone bumps into them at work.

  64. Also I’d bet money the nurse at this school hands out condoms and/or family planning and abortion referrals. But touching is not allowed.

  65. Wow, I hope my kids are as brilliant and well-spoken (written) when they are in high school. Excellent. So much better than whining “That’s not FAIRRRR!!”

  66. You should show your school the exuberant post and replies to it as evidence of widespread support so they know it’s not just your peers who think this is absurd, but the rest of the world too.

    These kind of rules are what cause problematic “touching” in the first place. Being so restrictive can only feed the fire of negativity.
    ugh, these kinds of arbitrary rules are why I dropped out of my highschool and went to a college to get my GED in the first place.

  67. SKL: “A rule of thumb might be what would be appreciated in a workplace. The example of the couple with arms around each other wouldn’t fly in the library of a law firm, or even behind a McDonald’s counter. So I fail to see why it is necessary in a school library.”

    People in a law firm are there voluntarily. If they’re clients they can just stand up and walk out. If they’re employees, they can quit. High school students do not have this choice.

    You’ve already taken away their freedom to choose to be there or not; courts have consistently ruled that you have to have good cause to restrict them further (such as with dress codes that restrict freedom of expression) – you have to prove that the thing you’re restricting harms the educational process. Basically, if you can’t prove that Sally and Joey kissing in the hallway after class is preventing kids from learning math, you can’t restrict their freedom to associate with each other.

  68. EricS: “The sooner people stop making distinctions, the better off we’ll be as a human race.”

    I agree. Which is why it doesn’t need to be demonstrated / emphasized in the schools. I could not tell you who in my class was gay or straight or asexual, nor did I care, and that lack of personal info did not pose a problem.

    nonnie: “I find that gay teens and straight teens are often held to very different standards when it comes to “parading” themselves.”

    I agree. (1) This is a good reason to ban this kind of behavior for everyone. (2) Allowing the behavior will only serve to highlight the differences on which some people prejudge. It is not going to magically create tolerance in all who see it.

    There’s a time and place for sharing different things. Bringing sexual relationships of any kind into the school invites a lot of problems, homophobia being only one. OK, I gotta go, kid has a bloody nose . . ..

  69. This is totally bang on. Well done this girl for making a stand. This sort of thing is becoming prevelant in the UK, and this outlines exactly why these sorts of rules are completely regressive!

  70. “Basically, if you can’t prove that Sally and Joey kissing in the hallway after class is preventing kids from learning math, you can’t restrict their freedom to associate with each other.”

    Freedom of association really does not apply to schools in that way. “If you can’t prove that letting Sally walk into the middle of a math class that isn’t hers and out of social studies when she feels like it is preventing her from learning math and social studies, you can’t restrict her freedom to choose which classes to associate with.” That would be absurd.

    No one’s “freedom of association” is being restricted by rules about what behaviors they can engage in together during school hours on school property. Sally and Joey can associate as much as they like when they’re not in school, at least as far as the school is concerned.

  71. “But if it’s due to his own choices, e.g., intentionally parading something he knows will upset others just to draw attention to oneself? Outside of mental illness, I have no sympathy for that.”

    So, essentially, if you choose to be different, then you get what’s coming to you? This is the kind of argument that’s used to blame provocatively dressed girls for their own rapes.

  72. Other Tom: “You’ve already taken away their freedom to choose to be there or not.”

    Not if they are over 15. So are we saying that we have no choice but to allow kids under 16 make out in school? Because it’s bad enough that we’re not letting them quit school to do it? That’s really good to know. Score one more point for non-public schooling.

    Maybe it’s time to have a pilot where teens just don’t report to school if they don’t want to. Just think of all the problems that would solve. After all, we’re talking about people mature enough to have all manner of sexual relations at any hour of the day, so they must be mature enough to know what’s good for them educationally.

  73. medea, notice that I conditioned my comment on the intent to shock/offend.

    Like I said, we’re going to end up agreeing to disagree on this stuff. So there is no point accusing me of being homophobic, mean-spirited, or stupid in order to sway people.

    I live in the real world – where people hurt others for being different. I myself never have done that, nor do I allow my kids to do so. I am close to people who have been victims, and others who have hidden in order to avoid victimization. I didn’t create this world. But encouraging kids to parade what offends others is going to get kids hurt. High School is one of the meanest places I can think of, and that isn’t going to change in my lifetime.

  74. SKL, I never intended to vilify you. I was just pointing out how such an attitude can be taken too far, not personally accusing you of being a rape apologist. That would indeed have been uncalled for.

    You cleared many things up with your last post. We agree that it is wrong to victimize others – our only real difference, I think, is how we think this problem should be addressed. My take is that everything is going to offend someone. Hiding away for fear of being victimized or causing controversy is no way to live. Stand strong!

  75. Pentamom is right – we seem to be forgetting that SKL’s first post was in favor of the petition. Let’s stop trying to cast her as some kind of puritanical villain. “Don’t force us to look at the world in black and white. Show us the shades of gray.” Let’s do that here by refraining from dramatized arguments. Infighting will only hurt this cause.

  76. Er, that would be “not accusing you personally.”

  77. I have a suggestion. This question you pose:

    “Is it not the responsibility of educators to impart valuable life skills and ready us for autonomy? ”

    Should be re-written as a statement. It will be stronger. As a question it is rhetorical and comes off as “wishy-washy”. You know the answer to this question, state it strongly.

    “It is the responsibility of educators . . .”

  78. And imagine the kids jumping straight from that to college where the administration has no qualms with people spending the nights in eachother’s rooms. Making something unjustly not allowed makes them all the more likely to go overboard when the restriction is listed.

  79. Can I just add something:
    Don’t just have a petition.
    Civil disobedience works wonders.
    When i was in secondary school, the staff arranged for crossings to be painted around the edges of the car park because there had been to many near misses.
    This was a awkward and slow route for what was a 10mph smallish car park.
    On the first day we were told that we had to walk all the way around the car park and walking across was not allowed.
    apparantly students were stupid cattle unable to get out of the way of cars or look first before crossing a car park if staff were to be beleived from this action.
    On the first day some teachers were posted outside to enforce the rules.
    I walked straight across, right in front of one of said teachers.
    He shouted my name and told me to “come back here”
    I just went home.
    The next day people were expecting me to get into trouble.
    the school didn’t have the balls to try that one.
    I received no punishment and told everyone in my sixth form (ages 16-18 non-compulsory education) to do the same as I did, as a) they couldn’t punish all of us and b) could you imagine the field day the papers would have if they tried and someone told them?

    On reflection i wish i had spread this idea of civil disobedience to the lower years, as the staff managed to terrorise them with threat of punishment into conforming, but no sixth form member was expected to walk around the car park after that week.

    i would suggest you spread the word amongst your peers and fellow students telling them to ignore the no touching rule, and to ignore any attempts at punishment that the school tries to enforce.
    Your teachers will soon realise that a) they can’t enforce it b) they dont have as much power to be stupid as they think and c) they might think about what may happen if they try to (ie very bad press and lots of pissed off parents)

  80. Where can I sign?

  81. [...] “No Touching” at High School? A Student Protests! Hi Readers: I’m so proud of this high school student — for what she’s doing and also all her clear thinking. The [...] [...]

  82. “Even if you find the same sex attractive, why does that need to be brought up during school?”

    Why shouldn’t it be? The fact is that our sexual orientation is a part of who we are. It isn’t something that people should feel the need to hide. We also shouldn’t encourage kids to lead double lives. That’s not the kind of work force adults exist in. I know which of my coworkers are straight and which are gay. Not because it matters one way or another to me but because we talk to each other, get to know each other and enjoy socializing with each other and their sexual orientation is part of who they are.

    I agree that kids don’t need to be making out at school, any more than I want people making out at work or on the street corner. However, we are a social species and part of social nature is touching. There is a huge difference between groping each other in the hallway and a hug, hand holding or even a peck before you go your separate ways to class. High school is where kids start to learn that difference – what is an acceptable PDA and what is not. If schools outright ban touching then that leaves us with adults who don’t know where to draw the line once that rule no longer applies to them.

  83. Seems like the students are more mature than the adults in this circumstance. I can’t wait to hear how this unfolds!

  84. Your school is the reason I started home schooling. This “no touch” rule was popular when I was a kid in certain districts. As a result, I have come to view school, even as a 30 year old woman, as nothing more than a baby sitting service for the lazy parent.

  85. I’d change “seems” arbitrary and draconian to “is” arbitrary and draconian.

    But this is awesome. Go get ‘em!

  86. Brilliantly written petition – please keep us up to date!

  87. Wow this is great! I see this person has a great future ahead of her!

  88. Meagan,

    I don’t agree with the need for more formality. We and us are positive inclusive words that signal student unity and also make it easier for teachers and administrators to emphatize with the message. There’s no need to use cold formality to play up the difference between students and policy setters, they were kids too in their day. “Young adults” sounds awkward, and should at most be used once to emphasize high school students are on the cusp of adulthood.

  89. I agree whole-heartedly with this student, but I have to warn her. As a former teacher, time and time again I saw students start protests or simply just begin petitions retaliated against by petty school officials. Given the policy that was put into effect, I don’t think her school is going to be very tolerant. I hope I am wrong and wish her the best.

  90. http://www.yesmagazine.org/happiness/hands-on-research-the-science-of-touch

    This is an excellent article on the “science of touch” that gives examples of the physical and emotional benefits of touch. Here is a great quote:

    “And educators, take note: A study by French psychologist Nicolas Gueguen has found that when teachers pat students in a friendly way, those students are three times as likely to speak up in class. Another recent study has found that when librarians pat the hand of a student checking out a book, that student says he or she likes the library more—and is more likely to come back.”

    There was another article in Time Magazine ( I think) that talked about how a study showed that teams who touched each other frequently during games showed more co-operation and performed better.

    Perhaps some of this information can be used to combat the assertions of the board that touching cannot be allowed. Science shows the exact opposite, that humans need touch.

    This situation just requires thoughtful people to make a reasonable policy that addresses the behavior they find disruptive (groping, kissing, harassing) without teaching these young adults to find such an instinctive need as human touch taboo.

  91. A very well written petition by a wonderfully eloquent student! You really will go far x

  92. The heart of the issue starts way before the problem, and begins a couple generations ago. There was a time when parents taught, and showed, their children what love, affection, intimacy, and romance actually were. There was a time young adults didn’t ‘make out’ in public because that would be inappropriate, embarrassing, and render a true romantic moment wasted. A young man who truly loves and respects a young woman does not think of doing these acts in public. True intimacy is private. These days, there is very, very little left for those special, romantic times. Our generation has been taught what romance and love is by the TV. Shows like Friends, Seinfeld, 90210, Melrose Place and many, many others, have corrupted the definition of love, intimacy and romance. Young peoples needs have not changed. Its not a ‘cultural’ thing that shifts with time and ideas. But we have failed to show our kids the truth. Its no wonder divorce rates have skyrocketed, woman openly complain about their husbands, and men give up so easily. Nobody has the tools to satisfy what the other needs. And nobody has the tools to request what they need, because they have never been shown what to expect.

  93. Hey, it’s better than the alternative.
    Step out of line and it’s SSRI time.
    Then again you coulda been raised in a traditional
    Chinese family where nothing is left to choice
    or to chance.

  94. I would be most proud to call this young lady my daughter. Way to go, young lady!

    She could well be a future Lenore Skenazy, ha ha!

    As for the whole public display of affection–while I understand the desire to not have to see “suck-face” in person, I think the whole “no PDA” thing can go too far sometimes. I once walked out of a church because they frowned on my wife & I hugging in church. Hugging! We’re married, for pete’s sake. It’s not like we were french-kissing or fondling. When it starts getting to where just hugging and “being cuddly” is frowned upon, frankly, I find that prudish.

    What are lovebirds supposed to do on Valentine’s Day–wear straight-jackets and veils at the restaurants? Gee whiz. Quit trying so hard to suppress normal human emotions.

    LRH

  95. [...] "As a college-bound 17-year-old, I am insulted by the presumption that I am too immature to decide … Filed under: Common Sense Leave a comment Comments (0) Trackbacks (0) ( subscribe to comments on this post ) [...]

  96. Touching other people physically/casually results in a chemical release that makes people more closely bonded. It strengthens social interaction and good, friendly relationships with people.

    One of the most striking moments of school from a few years ago was when a girl was in the middle of giving a presentation and all of a sudden she crouched over, apparently ill. The first person up to help her was the teacher, giving her a touch of comforting reassurance. I can’t really describe the motion she made– she sort of rubbed the girl’s shoulder/back, but not in a creepy way– sort of how a parent or friend does it to someone who really isn’t feeling well. Then a fellow student pulled out a chair, put her arm around the girl, and helped direct her to the seat before taking her to the nurse. The simple act of touching another person in such a helpful, nice way, but in a way that wasn’t common– I don’t think I’ll ever forget it, even though it was simply some brief human interaction that took about 15 seconds.

    The fact that the school has limited appropriate touch to, simply, shaking hands, is ridiculous. This is a great petition. Someone also mentioned civil disobedience– why not make a Facebook event for ‘hold hands day’ or something like that? (and make it private, so officials can’t see it and threaten it in advance)

    (btw, teacher in above sory was actually a guy, but I figured the phrasing would have made it sound, unfortunately, creepy– this is a whole other issue).

  97. The petition is great. I guess hope it works.

    Most schools I attended would usually take one look at any protest, scream “TEENAGE REBELLION!” and quash it as quickly as possible.

  98. Sorry, that should be ‘just”, not “guess” :P

  99. I am incredibly impressed at the clarity of your argument and the level-headed way you present it. You make a strong argument that is solidly stated and I think the administration would have a hard time combatting your points. I really hope you are able to achieve a repeal/amendment with it! Good luck!

  100. The more I read about this, the more irritated I get.

    I was frequently very depressed/suicidal in high school. There were a couple times when a well timed hug from a friend (male or female) kept me from doing something stupid and regrettable.

  101. I’d like to argue against the suggestions for concerted acts of civil disobedience. I think ‘breaking the rules’ and encouraging other students to do the same would undermine the value of your petition in the eyes of the teachers and school governors. By instigating this policy, they’ve already shown that they see you as irresponsible and uncontrollable. You don’t want to give them any ammunition or any reason to dismiss your petition without truly considering it.

  102. Excellent petition- I hope it works! The new policy is ridiculous. When I was in high school I would have appreciated teachers stepping in more to tell kids to leave the making-out outside of the school building, for sure- but no touching? Something’s got to be done about that, and this seems like a good start.

    People are saying “skip the petition and go for civil disobedience”. Maybe that works where they live, but when students did that at my high school it was either ignored or treated with condescension and eye-rolls (the former from school administrators, the latter from other students and the outside community). It just didn’t work. I think part of it was that they jumped straight into outraged demonstration before they tried anything like this petition. A well-reasoned petition seems like a more mature place to start- give them a chance to hear your very reasonable arguments, and save the protests for if the petition is ignored.

    I think the best suggestions here have been from the people who said to make sure the media are aware of the situation and the petition. The people who have the power to change this policy need to know how many people (adults outside of the school as well as its students) think the policy is absurd. Also, a little embarrassment goes a long way. Even if they think they can ignore the petition, I’m betting they wouldn’t be able to ignore the fact that large numbers of people think that the policy is idiotic (as are the people who created it).

  103. I’m just going to tell a story…..I was sixteen when I was called in to the principal’s office to learn the news of my father’s death. It was the principal, the nurse and the school psychologist in the office. I slumped into a chair, not sure if I was going to throw up or slump further down onto the floor and pass out. The principal, a male in his late forties I guess, crouched down by my chair and said, “Take my hand.” I took it and he began to speak in this very soothing, low voice, “Squeeze my hand. Squeeze hard. Focus on that. You’re strong. Squeeze my hand. Hard. Focus. I’m here. We’re here. We’re all here. We’re going to get you through this. Squeeze my hand….”

    When my head had cleared, he asked me to tell him two or three girlfriends who could walk me to my locker. They came to the office and threw their arms around me like a shield. From the office to my locker and back, I was held in hands and arms. People reached out to touch me – kids I knew, kids I barely knew. Boys stroked my shoulders. Girls cried and touched my head, back, arms. I was never out of contact. Back in the principal’s office, he held my hand until my aunt came.

    I’m not sure if this is relevant to the subject. It’s not so much about appropriate touching in school as the power of touch in general. I guess my point is this: To this day, when a stressful or crisis situation hits, I reach for a hand. When my own kids are in panic mode, I grab their hand and drop my voice and say “Squeeze my hand, focus on that….” It never fails to calm. And it was my high school principal who taught me this. Would a principal today dare to make such gestures to a shocked student? Would he (or she) spontaneously and fearlessly take a student in arms or would they pause to quickly weigh the risks….

    Thanks.

  104. Maya, that made me tear up. What an amazing group to be surrounded by at your time of need.

  105. [...] of schools have zero tolerance policies in terms of drugs and violence, but when one New England school instituted a no physical contact at any time policy, one high school senior thought it was a bit much. No hugs, no arms over shoulders, et cetera. The [...]

  106. Very well written and well thought out. Best of luck – this whole school law thing sounds like a bunch of bull to me. Way to go!

  107. Wow, Maya, that was incredibly powerful, thank you for sharing. It is relevant to the subject at large: human touch is critical and necessary. Everyone craves contact and connection but I think especially teenagers who are constantly battling conflict and challenge and insecurity. However, to the subject in particular: there are nuances to touch, and there are times and places for appropriate kinds of touching, and kids are perfectly capable of knowing the difference. They already DO know the difference but when you’re 16 and your sweetie plants one on you at your locker……(sigh, I miss those days)….

    Anyway, making codified rules about touching is absurd – you can’t solve a nuanced problem by smothering it as a whole. Come on, let’s stop “infantizing” teenagers by snatching away anything and everything we perceive as a potential threat. By trying to protect them from everything, we make them dangerously vulnerable to everything.

    BTW, note that the student who wrote the petition is not going to circulate it until after next week because, quote, “next week is midterms.” Anyone catch that awesome bit of maturity?

  108. Great thoughts and a well worded petition. However, the inherent problem is assuming that the schools want the kids to be mature and integrated into society. That would require free thinking on the part of the students, and schools actively repress free thinking (despite what they say). This is just another example of a huge problem of our society, and why in the long run the U.S. will loose it’s place as the super-power in the world. We currently expect our teens to move from “kids” to “responsible adults” the minute they leave high school. Or we take another extreme, and expect our legal adults to continue childish behavior throughout college; and then, again, expect them to instantly turn into mature, responsible adults the minute they graduate. Somewhere our society has lost the rites of passage that our young adults used to progress through to gently ease into adult responsibilities. And I think that has happened because our culture has decided that we should protect our kids from ALL hurts, including heartache, uncomfortable situations, awkward conversations and uncertainty. So our kids never get a chance to try out being adults gradually, but are painfully thrust into it all at once, and then ridiculed or coddled when they can’t cut it.

  109. Maya, that made me cry…

  110. Maya, that’s a very moving story and I hope that a principal today would still dare to give the human contact needed in such a situation.

    I would have absolutely no problem if my daughter’s high school declared that boys and girls could not touch each other in a romantic way while in school. I think it would suggest that school is a formal place of learning to be taken seriously where young adults are also learning to behave in a dignified, public manner. However, an absolute ban on / zero tolerance approach to *all* physical touching is extreme and is a reflection of the complete unwillingness of educators to assume the responsibility and social risk that is entailed in practicing discretion. If our educators refuse to practice discretion, how can we expect our students to learn to practice it?

    The petition was well written. I agree with some of the changes suggested (young adults rather than teens, don’t quote the dictionary, etc.)

    ] “You’ve already taken away their freedom to choose to be there or not…”

    Fine, let’s give it back. Let’s lower the legal drop out age to 14 in every state (the legal drop out age ranges from 15 to 18 currently, depending on state). I’m for that. Then everyone who is in high school will be there voluntarily, can’t complain about restrictions, and we’ll have a better student body. Everything you need to know to function in life (reading, writing, and arithmetic) and to work at an entry level job (i.e. show up on time and do what you’re told) can certainly be learned by 8th grade. Kids should have a basic liberal arts education by 8th grade too. 14 year olds and up who don’t particularly want to go on to college don’t really need to be wasting their time in high school. (Less than 30% of Americans have a B.A., why treat every student as if they need to be prepared to earn one?) They can get a job (with a work permit at 14 or without by 16) or take vocational training classes or do both at the same time. High school can become a place solely for college prep and save everyone time, money, and grief. Indeed, maybe you should have to maintain a certain GPA and standard of behaviour simply to be permitted to remain in school past the age of 13. I bet our high school test scores would improve in international comparisons!

  111. Sue, I think that is a great deal of maturity, mid terms should be a time when students are studying, and focused on exams. To pull that focus away for something like this would not serve the student body as a whole very well.

    Even more mature is her current decision to not pursue the petition until a later date in light of the tragedy at her school.

    What a mature and thoughtful young lady.

  112. Yikes, Sky, I hope the end of my comment didn’t come across as sarcastic….I was being sincere – that it was a very mature and admirable decision to present the petition after midterm exams were over.

  113. Free-range kids taste better than the caged kind.

  114. (I mean Jay, not Sky. Sorry, I’m having one of those days)

  115. My wife, (9 years NY City Special Ed. teacher), said: “What next, rubber gloves and body suits?”

  116. The teenager wrote: “Presumably, this is to thin out the kissing couples who clog up the halls.” Presumably? Doesn’t she know? Didn’t she take the time to read the reason(s) why this rule was implemented in the first place? Kudos for her mature response; points off for not even understanding the reason for the school’s decision.

  117. But sexting is still fine, right?

  118. THIS girl may know what is appropriate, but many others will not. She may go far in life, but first she has to learn to choose her battles. She seems to understand the desired effect of the policy, but not that the administration doesn’t have the time to adjudicate what forms of touching are appropriate and which are not on a case-by-case basis, or that the administration is liable if a charge of sexual battery is brought.

    I was in high school a long time ago. We had a similar no touching policy. It was strictly enforced. We didn’t like it either, but the law was the law. Later, when we had children of our own, we began to see the wisdom of the policy.

  119. Yeah, so I guess no more “Atta Boy” or “Atta Girl” pat on the back for the special Ed kids that needs that little boost some days.

  120. Why do these people directing the schools still retain their jobs when clearly they are inadequate. I’m surprised they can tie their shoes without government assistance and amendments to the tying process. Where are the parents with balls these days?

  121. Here, here! Very well done. Good luck with your petition.

  122. ORIELWEN
    soemtimes civil disobediance is needed to stop others from forcing there beliefs on you. people have there own minds and can think for themselves.

  123. You guys should do a “kiss off” flash mob on campus or inside the administrative offices (i.e. hallways, lobbies). Have all look busy and going somewhere, then either set to music or a loud chime to signal all couples for a big smootch off just long enough for the staffs to freak. LOL and disband as if nothing happened. LOL

  124. Silly citizens.

    Educational institutions and the entire educational bureaucracy at any and all levels is intended to install propaganda into students; brainwashing to assist the elite power structures within the USA to maintain their wealth and power and to assist in assuring the status quo.

    Education is but a very small aspect of the years-long brainwashing America’s youth are forced to endure.

    “There’s class warfare, all right, Mr. (Warren) Buffett said, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

    USA education, both public and private, with but a very few private academies used by the elite class to ensure THEIR vile spawn are not brainwashed/indoctrinated, has one major function; prepare the masses to OBEY and behave/think as the empowered few want them to.

    OBEY commoner scum.

    OBEY or pay the price.

  125. [...] policy (by taking her campaign against the ban on all physical contact online. See the impressive petition posted on the Free Kids [...]

  126. Even if you find the same sex attractive, why does that need to be brought up during school?

    What are you picturing here? That somebody is going around yelling “I’m gay, I’m gay”? Or that somebody is occasionally going on a date, holding their bf/gf’s hand, attending dances…?

    That’s not the place for it, in my opinion.

    So long as there are school dances it absolutely IS the place for it.

    And for that matter – SKL, are you telling us that your coworkers don’t know if you’re married or not? Are you telling us that your friends have no idea who you’re dating? You don’t have a picture of your family in your wallet, you don’t go out in public with your loved ones, you don’t attend weddings (and if you do, you go without anybody else)?

    I admit that a kid who is being severely bullied would be best served in a different school (it doesn’t have to be an “alternative” school though).

    I suspect it’s an alternative school because many of these students have fallen behind.

    But if it’s due to his own choices, e.g., intentionally parading something he knows will upset others just to draw attention to oneself?

    How far does this go? Should a bullied Muslim child refrain from praying? Should a bullied Jewish child take off his yarmulke? Should, for that matter, a bullied Christian child profess to be an atheist? These – unlike your orientation – are choices.

    Or, for that matter, should the children bullied for not speaking English just shut up until they speak it better? After all, their lack of proficiency “upsets” people… right? Should students refrain from reporting on controversial subjects in current events? Their opinions might “upset” people and excuse bullying, after all. If a student has gay parents, should they never allow their parents to attend parent-teacher night for fear of “upsetting” others? Do the straight students have to follow the same rules – never mention a date you went on, never talk during lunchtime about some person (famous or not) you find attractive, never go to a school dance?

  127. I am 100% behind you! How ridiculous. Please update us with the result of the signed petition!

  128. After reading through more of these comments – everyone seems to be writing comments about how PDAs mean that hugging is not acceptable etc etc (leading into many conversations about sexuality and sexual touch) but not one person has even asked if the non-touching rule apart from a handshake stands for anything else apart from hugging. For example, what if you need your friend’s attention and you tap them to get it? Yes this is very lazy instead of merely saying their name, but we do it sometimes without even thinking. So the rule definitely needs to be thinned out because I would be extremely peeved if I got a detention or some other form of punishment for tapping my friend! This also extends to sport, drama, dance – all involve touch! So the school definitely needs to differentiate between the appropriate and inappropriate touch before setting a blanket ban like that because quite frankly kids will take the p***. I know I would! I’d insist I could not take part in dance for fear of detention! Love the idea of the flash mobs!! I don’t even think there should be a need for a rule, a simple ‘get a room’ should embarrass a couple enough to scarper anyway.

  129. I read all the replies and weighed all sides. There is a time and place for everything. If a youth feels the need to touch someone, let them show affection to family members, when they get home. Teen pregnancy is at an all time high. Sexually suggestive forms of affection should not be displayed on school property. This is nothing new. In 1967 eight unwed senior girls graduated from my high school. The dreams they had for college were put on the back burner of life. I have asked some of them since, “If you had to do it over, would you have been so free with your affections back then, they said, NO!”
    Virginity is a precious gift of life. Once it is taken, it can never be returned. Youth, should choose very carefully .and wisely, as to who they want to give that precious gift to.
    Something looking back that I see, where are the students I went to school with now? How much of my life are they currently influencing? Are they signing my pay check?
    When youth move on with life, they should consider what weighty baggage they drag with them.
    Signed: Youth Counselor, Teacher, Social Worker, Foster Care Giver.

  130. The BRITISH // USA govts with their 24/7
    ONGOING media propaganda machines
    EVER maintain their/ No Thinking Policy.

    Presently in USA / UK / millions are now
    totally incapable of independent thought
    they totally dependent /on govt of the day
    in telling ‘em what to think wot to believe.

    WHY ? you ask A NO TOUCH POLICY ??

    ANSWER / MILLIONS DISCOVER FROM
    PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE. / AN HUG IN
    ITSELF GREATER THAN / THE SWORD
    THE PEN / EVEN WHEN BE COMBINED.

    SUCH NO TOUCH POLICY /PREVENTS
    INDEPENDENT FEELING OF BONDING
    BONDING GOVT SEE AS THREATNING.

    INDEPENDENT THOUGHTS FEELINGS
    HAVE A EFFECT IN UNITING PEOPLE’S
    WHICH GOVT SEES / AS THREATNING.

    THE UK / USA GOVTS /NOW PERCEIVE
    HEAR / SIGHT / ALSO THREATENS ‘EM.

    PRESENTLY $BILLIONS BE SPENT ON
    GENETIC HUMAN MODIFICATION / IN A
    ATTEMPT CREATE “PERFECT VOTER”
    A BRAINLESS SOUL WHERE A HUMAN
    FORM RESEMBLE THAT OF AN SHEEP.

    DAILY FLEECED / TILL SLAUGHTERED.

  131. That petition brings forth some really good arguments. I hope this girl gets to make a difference.

  132. In hopes that this student is still reading comments: as a member of a New England school board (‘though not this student’s), a few thoughts on moving forward with this:
    1. Absolutely take the advice above to come up with what you’d LIKE to see the policy be. Otherwise, administration will come up with something for your board to consider, and wouldn’t you rather write the suggestion yourself?
    2. When you present the petition, presumably at a meeting of the board, be prepared not only to present the petition, but also to speak to the issue. Find districts or towns that have reasonable policies in your area; cite them. Clearly articulate why this is an issue that should concern them.
    3. When you present, you’ll no doubt get a number of comments like those above, admiring you for “getting out there, being active” etc. And then they’ll send it to subcommittee. THIS IS WHERE THINGS ARE WON AND LOST! Politely give your name and information to the clerk of the board, and ask to be notified when it comes to subcommittee. Find out who chairs the subcommittee, and ask them the same.
    4. Then, attend the meeting of the subcommittee. This is when they know you mean business (rarely does anyone attend subcommittees). Again, be prepared to state your case. Bring along students, parents, teachers…anyone willing to make an argument in favor of the change in policy. Be polite. Be clear. Be consistent in your arguments. This is where a draft policy will come from. Make sure that what you want to see is in there!
    5. The policy will go back to the full committee. If the policy isn’t what you want, write, call, email board members ahead of time (most will have made up their minds BEFORE the meeting). Then show up to see the vote.

    Good luck! If I can be of any help, you can find me through the Worcester (MA) Public Schools.

  133. [...] Forget drugs and alcohol; one “small New England high school” has instituted a zero-tolerance touching policy. According to one senior at the school, the rule was intended to “thin out the kissing couples who clog up the halls” but has also made putting your arm around a friend an occasion for a tongue-lashing. “The only appropriate touch, we are told, is a handshake,” the senior reports. She has drafted a petition arguing, with the verve and vocabulary of a 17-year-old fresh from an SAT prep course, that school administrators are failing to do their duty (“Is it not the responsibility of educators to impart valuable life skills and ready us for autonomy?”) while warping the nature of physical contact (“Interpersonal touch is not inherently sexual, and to treat it as such is to make it so”) and stunting students’ development (“According to the World Book encyclopedia… micromanaging merely infantilizes us”). The petition is getting a lot of love at Jezebel and Free Range Kids, where Leonore Skenazy is cheering her on. [...]

  134. [...] “No Touching” at High School? A Student Protests! [...]

  135. Wow, she is very well thought out. I hope she is successful in blowing holes through another irrational ‘zero tolerance’ policy.

  136. Teachers and admin are at a loss with this problem. They are in most cases in charge of WAY to many students, and cannot properly educate. Few of these preteen-teen are “sucking face” or worse in the school. Do you see the 1500 students that are behaving perfectly appropriate? or do we see the 2-3 students that are being “innapropriate”. It’s an “I give up” solution to a problem that I do not know the solution to. This “no touching” blanket rule is weak and causes more problems than it solves.

  137. Okay, now I’m asking, “How do the Italians manage to educate their citizens?”

    North America seems to be a very touch-phobic culture. It was shocking at first for me to see how much people casually touch each other in Argentina when I travelled there… for young children, even at the awkward teen or pre-teen age, the rule of etiquette is to KISS anyone you are being introduced to FOR THE FIRST TIME. I could see many of them suffering through this as they gave me the requisite peck, but they would probably have had hell to pay from their parents if they didn’t pucker up. Not that I advocate for forced kissing, but I can’t imagine what anyone from a Mediterranean-based culture would think of this extreme rule at a high school. I think they would see it as something akin to telling kids they can’t eat in school. Anything. Ever. Okay, maybe these communion wafers. But only one apiece.

    It’s a vital human need, touch. We’ve been shamed out of meeting that need on this continent, and I’m betting a lot of the prescriptions for benzodiazepines and anti-depressants could be traced directly to the unfulfilled needs for touch, support, community, and interdependence. Somehow, they are all linked. And damned right, they are all necessary to thrive.

    Wet ‘n messy sex in the hallway (or even the bathroom) isn’t necessary to meet the need for touch… but banning hugs ain’t going to get us where we want to go! Glad this young woman took action, and glad you brought this to my awareness, Lenore!

  138. Blueeyes54:

    1) Teen pregnancy isn’t at an “all time high”. That was in 1957, two years before I was born. Though teen pregnancy has increased very slightly in the last two years, those increases were from an all-time low.

    2) Simple hugging and the like won’t get anyone pregnant. You sound like you’re arguing that not only should people refrain from sexual activity until they get married, they should also refrain from any kind of purely social touching, except with members of their own families. That’s incredibly harsh.

  139. [...] another’s shoulders, and hand holding. Here is some copy from the student’s really well-written petition: We, the undersigned, call for removal of or significant amendments to the new “No Touching” [...]

  140. [...] glad this student has taken the much more mature course of circulating a well-worded petition. Her points are right on: “We, the undersigned, call for removal of or significant amendments to the new [...]

  141. [...] student at a New England high school is protesting the school’s implementation of a “no-touching” rule.  I was shocked to find so many people wildly in favor of her petition.  I volunteer at an [...]

  142. Well, ebohlman, some religions do expect that – but not for people outside their religion, sheesh!

    And if we’re so concerned about teen pregnancy and STDs, might I suggest better sex education and access to contraceptives? Humans like to have sex. Probably why there’s some 7 billion of us on the planet. Teenagers are just like grown-ups, except they don’t know as much yet.

  143. As a high school teacher, I applaud you for this. I also believe that schools today are making decisions and promoting policies that are counterproductive to our students’ development.

    You will be in college (or out in the so-called “real world”) soon. We should be helping you to prepare for that!

    This policy is a terrible idea, and your petition is clearly and thoughtfully written. Please, even if you don’t go into the field of education, stay current on what is going on, and keep weighing in. We need people that see the value of students being pushed towards independence!

    Keep up the good work!

  144. [...] anonymously published the petition on Free Range Kids, a website supporting the philosophy that safety doesn’t mean over protection. The letter is [...]

  145. I sure hope your petition results in the desired ammendments – if not, it would probably be because it is too rational.
    Your arguments are billiant to the point of sheer common sense (not so common these days.)
    I don’t see why the school administration would not have the right to its outrage over blatant sexual display, however, their response is perhaps somewhat more infantile than the problem they’re attempting to solve.

    I find it laughable, that in our current times so many “solutions” immediately leap into the zero tolerance zone. Just goes to show how prone folks in authoritarian positions are to leap without really thinking a thing through.
    Perhaps, if they’d taken as much time and put in as much effort as you have with your petition, dear student, we’d all be a whole lot less at each other’s throats, and getting on each other’s nerves.
    Bravo, and good luck!

    jp

  146. funny thing Mollie –
    I have an Italian background (3rd generation) and I always joke about the good old American need for 4 square feet of personal space…yet I agree with everything you say.
    A friend of mine once remarked that the only times I seem to appear relaxed about physical contact – is with kids and animals. When questioned on it, I replied without even thinking: “Of course, that’s because with kids and animals, there’s no threat.”
    Says a lot.
    When a kid needs a hug, there is absolutely nothing else whatsoever implied. It’s just pure and simple affection. When an animal needs a pat, unless you have weird beastie tendencies, same result.
    Sometimes, I get the feeling that half our society is busy dying of lonliness, literally. I’ve probably felt that way since I was a kid. Seems we’ve been on this road for some time….
    I hope there will always be brave souls around who will fight it like the dickens.

    jp

  147. YES.

    DEFINITELY circulate this. It’s intelligent and articulate, and we need more people to stand up for Youth Rights.

  148. Wow…at my high school they would have had to suspend us. I remember every year on the first day getting greeted with “tackle hugs”, and many occasions on cold days of friends sitting huddled together for warmth, not to mention laying in the field all over each other on lazy afternoons, limbs draped over stomachs and backs. These sensual (but definitely not sexual) displays of friendship are second nature to me. This is truly draconian and borders on denying kids a part of their humanity. We are social creatures and to expect friends not to touch each other, ever, is cruel.

  149. Don’t give up on what is right! Facilitators are responsible for defining boundaries for inappropriate touch & sexual harassment. Education & perception on touch varies, and doing what is right is easily confused. The power of touch has light and dark- so the definition between the 2, as it varies with occasion, is key to this dilemma.

  150. […] it’s not all doom and gloom. Some students do actually realise that what the teachers and others in authority are doing is counterproductive […]

  151. Hi there are using WordPress for your site platform?

    I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and set up my own. Do
    you require any coding knowledge to make your own blog?
    Any help would be really appreciated!

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