School Bans Hugs (in New Jersey) and Best Friends (in Britain)

Hi Folks! Just got two articles on school-wide bans and the coincidence compelled me to share them. Here’s a piece about a middle school in New Jersey banning hugs, because some “unsuitable” ones had been witnessed and, said the superintendent, the schools must teach “appropriate” behavior.( Of course, the school isn’t doing that at all, since it seems to be damning appropriate hugs right along with the “unsuitable” ones.) Here’s another piece on the story.

And then there’ this piece from England about the  small trend of schools banning best friends, so kids don’t get hurt if-or-when they get dumped. The comments are really wonderful there, including this one:

So, is the government also encouraging Polygamy? Because if you live in a group marriage then you won’t feel as hurt when one of your spice dumps you??

I not only love the logic, I love the idea of calling spouses spice! Appropriate hugs to you all  — L.

109 Responses

  1. I just read the NJ “no hugging” article a moment ago & was about to send it to you. I see you’ve already been warned of it.

    Stupid, isn’t it? My (almost) 5 year-old daughter walks up to people she doesn’t know & hugs them. Although of course we teach her she can TALK to strangers but not GO with them, hugging is okay, and the adults whom she has hugged always seem to enjoy it & appreciate it as the precious act it truly is.

    A group of certain blowhards in NJ would do well to find their brain & use it, if they really have one.

    LRH

  2. Oh my lord, I just can’t stand it. I have seen MANY of these pieces about banning hugging in the United States. It is happening all over the country. Australia, England too. What the hell is wrong with us? Here’s one from Tennessee http://abcnews.go.com/US/video/hs-hormones-hugging-banned-12234432 –Watch where the teacher says “I’m bad about that too, I’ll go up and give a hug and ask how your day is going.” That is considered BAD to do? This teacher feels the need to chastize herself for this caring behavior!!

    and Check this one out: FOUR years old! “pre-kindergartener demonstrated “inappropriate physical behavior interpreted as sexual contact and/or sexual harassment.” http://www.kxxv.com/global/story.asp?s=5785699

    This trend is appalling. Utterly, completely, appalling. Most reader comments agree. But tell you what – I am VERY worried about the direction society is heading – you outlaw being human, and come 50 years from now, just what kind of a place will this be??

  3. The parent and student should write a letter stating they will not be participating in this nonsense. Parent and student then sign the letter and hand deliver it to the Principal. Parent then goes to work, student to class and the Principal can darn well do as they please. You’ve done your part in responding to their ridiculousness – time to get on with life.
    My mother hugged everyone she met. It’s the one thing everyone remembers about her. If an observer thinks it’s inappropriate – just what may I ask is THAT observer thinking?
    As for Best Friends, can’t say as I ever really had one. And oh God, I wish I did.

  4. They can’t physically ban kids from having best friends, it’s not possible. They can only ban them from talking about it.

    So they’ll act the same way and call it something else. What a victory for social advancement!

  5. I think it’s time they banned schools. Especially since the logic is that if something is done wrong “some” of the time, it must be banned “all” of the time.

    Think of all the problems that would solve. Excessive hugging, running, dodge ball, bullying, best friends, encountering strangers . . . the list could go on all day. Ban schools and get it over with already.

  6. Whatever happened to “Hugs not Drugs”?

  7. ski1 – you are EXACTLY RIGHT!! Ban the schools! I mean, think of the other things that are done wrong some of the time in schools – teaching reading skills, math, critical thinking, history, and ESPECIALLY writing skills. My college freshmen can’t write their way out of a paper bag! So you are quite right. If something can’t be done right “some” of the time, maybe ban it “all” of the time!

  8. Oh please, young kids change best friends more often than you change underwear. It’s part of growing up, learning social skills and figuring out where you fit into the world. They will be stifling these kids’ social development, not to mention their ability to deal with the fact that everybody doesn’t like them all the time. What a shock that will be if you only realise it in the teenaged years.

    As for hugs, humans are social, touchy, feely animals. We NEED physical contact, it’s not an optional extra. The obsession with inappropriate touching once again means that they are depriving kids of something that they need in order to thrive.

  9. Are the teachers and staff banned from shaking hands? I’ve had uncomfortable handshakes- you know, the ones that linger too long or are way too hard. Might as well ban ALL physical contact. Then just give the kids some orange jumpsuits to wear, put a big fence around the school, and try to take over all the personal liberties of these children, and run the school like a prison.

  10. Right on, Heila! How are kids supposed to learn to be emotionally resilient, if the idiot grown-ups don’t allow them to face the smallest challenge. What will happen to these kids, girls in particular, when they grow up and start attaching themselves and dating? It’s bad enough being dumped for the first time, but imagine it without ever having split from a close friend and learning that life goes on and there are new friends to be made. I fear that they will be so devastated by any breakup, that they’ll stay with any old jerk rather than face a split that they have no experience facing. Kids hurt each other. Kids bounce back. It’s a marvel, not a curse.

  11. This is nothing new.

    While in high school many a year ago in the dark ages (actually it was in the late 60’s/early 70’s and a very colorful time to be in high school!) I was ‘reprimanded’ on several occasions for giving a hug to a (male) friend. This was at the height, of course, of ‘flower power’ and plenty of people were hugging, and more, in all kinds of public, and semi-public, spaces…

    But at that time, there was no official ‘policy’ against hugs–the assistant principal simply felt he had the authority to tell us ‘not to hug’, and so he did.

    So, the frowning upon hugging in schools doesn’t strike me as noteworthy as the apparent felt need in many schools to enact some kind of ‘official’ rule or policy against it.

    We live in a highly regulated society, that will, with increasing population and complexity, become, Ron Paul and his followers notwithstanding, only more so!

  12. So hugs can be “inappropriate” huh? Okay, then.
    Well, using that logic, let’s also ban: clothing, speaking, writing, singing, dramatics, classroom parties, class trips, riding buses….because you know, all of THOSE things/activities have the potential to also be (or provide a setting for) some inappropriate behavior at times. Better yet, close the schools and ban all in-person and interactions between anyone under 18. That will definitely assure we have well-balanced adults one day, right?

  13. Yep. Add to the list of other things that need to be banned because they can be used inappropriately sometimes: speaking, eye contact, facial expressions. Sports. Pencils. Mentoring. A/V club and student council. Teaching. Shoes. Food. …

    Heaven forbid that kids would actually learn the nuances of propriety through practice, trial and error, and normal social sanctioning.

  14. I used to teach, and one of the districts I worked for had a specific policy about physical contact. For children in grades K-3, hugging was okay. For children in grades 4-6, there were only three ways we could touch them: a pat on the shoulder, a handshake, or a high five. I was working in a 6th grade classroom one day, and a girl gave me a hug. (She was developmentally disabled and I was told that she had the mind of a four-year-old.) What was I supposed to do? Push her away? Under the policy, if anyone had raised a stink, I would have lost my job. It’s so sad and ridiculous.

    When I was working in a 4th grade classroom in a school in another district (without such a clear policy), the principal came in one day and noticed that some of the kids were hugging me. “Don’t let them touch you,” she told me. I was a long-term sub for that class and I was really trying to gain their acceptance. Do you think they would accept me if I started pushing them away? (They were initiating the hugs, and besides, if I started pushing them, wouldn’t that be inappropriate, violent behavior?) If kids tried to hug her, she would allow it, but then scowl as they were walking away. I didn’t like her much.

  15. I came across this yesterday: http://www.analyticalarmadillo.co.uk/2010/12/is-breastfeeding-six-year-old-ok-er.html It is about breast feeding, and how cultural norms are different for how long a child should breast feed in different parts of the world, specifically comparing Canada and Mongolia.

    In Mongolia, it is not unacceptable for a breast feeding mother, who if she feels uncomfortably full, to offer her breast to anyone and everyone in the room regardless of their age or sex. Children are commonly breast fed up to age 4 and beyond.

    I bring this up because of the link Claire53 had about the preschooler rubbing his face in the breast of the school aid. This child could very well still be breast feeding (yes, even here in the US, I have a fair number of FaceBook Friends who nurse beyond toddler age.) And, as the father pointed out, the kid doesn’t understand yet that that action is sexual. For him it may just be comforting. Or maybe he had snot coming out of his nose and he wanted to wipe his nose. But not sexual.

  16. The world has gone stark raving mad. I second the motion made by other commenters that we just ban school.

  17. So many rants this could get me going on. But I already did my problem with blanket policy/punishment rant yesterday. And I’ve often referred to my former middle-school as a prison for its overbearing rules.

    So I’ll just focus on what I can do in my little corner of the world. I’ve always been a bit uptight with physical affection. Time to loosen up a little. I happen to know a toddler who runs up (enthusiastically? expectantly?) every time I give my daughter a hug. It’s high time she at least got a pat on the head.

  18. CrazyCatLady – I love your comment, he wanted to wipe his nose. I think that is the mostly likely thing that he was doing!

    I was thinking, being an adult is so smooth and easy, it’s good that such a big effort is being made to protect kids from every little obstacle and heartache. You do not need any skills for dealing with that as an adult. Grr, it terrifies me to think what the world will be like when our kids are grown and ours (free-range kids and likeminded) are the only ones that can deal with being grown-ups. I hope the helicopter parents have great big houses with basement apartments for these eternal children they are creating.

  19. On the British school(s) that banned best friends – my blog has a revealing perspective on this from a former head teacher with personal experience. She reckons it’s down to ignorance, fear of being blamed and stress. One big problem is that educators don’t know enough – and/or don’t think enough – about the value of play and freedom in children’s lives.

  20. I agree with Havva, since we covered the absurdity of blanket bans yesterday . . .

    It’s not like these kinds of bans can harm students. Surely if physical touch effected children physically, like say their immune and neurological development, they would seek out that behavior or something. Drats, they do. Well, despite the importance of both kinds of development at this age lets just ban it all together and hope for the best. Since we’ve banned hugging we don’t have to teach the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touch. We’ll hope for the best on that too, I mean what are the chances that the person at home who is supposed to be teaching the child this would be the one committing the inappropriate touch? And those best friends. They have to go. It’s not like children experience feelings if we ban their expression. If they don’t experience the feelings of having best friends they can’t experience feelings they won’t experience negative feelings. Then we don’t have to deal with that either. Save that for high school or adult hood. They won’t suffer greater if they don’t learn it when it’s developmentally appropriate or anything. With all those life lessons not being taught we, the schools, can focus on teaching how to take standardized tests. You know, the real important stuff.

  21. Breathing, too. Every crime ever committed has involved breathing.

  22. You know, I’m pretty sure I asked my middle school daughter last month about hugging one of her friends in school (because she was upset or something). She said it wasn’t allowed. Which I found incredibly sad. And that’s in very liberal Washington State.

    I went to Catholic school so there was no inappropriate touching between boys and girls… at least in school. But we were still allowed to hug. Not sure how the co-ed high school handled things because mine was all-girls so it wasn’t really an issue.

  23. What a bunch of tards!! K. So, if he is saying “We certainly do not have a policy against hugging nor do we intend to or have we suspended students for hugging,” Then what is this policy on? And why does he say ““Hugging can be inappropriate and we want to make sure that there’s no inappropriate physical contact.” That’s like saying “you can sit, but not sit. You have to do it standing up.” I really believe, whenever a person of authority makes these ridiculous policies or changes, and they are ridiculous, they should be go through a process of psychological evaluation first. I mean, one would have to come up with this absurd policy, AND say it’s not their policy”. These are the people that are suppose to be looking after our children’s education and mental well being? Riiiiiiight. That’s like having a 2 year old teach Science to a bunch of high school kids. Unqualified and no comprehension of right and wrong just yet. Just what makes them feel good or bad. If I were the kids, I’d hug away.

    As for the “no best-friends” policy. When you shield children from the natural order of making relationships and losing them. You take away their ability to deal with the real life situations of getting hurt. You can remove these from children’s lives temporarily, but they will NEVER disappear from LIFE. Sooner rather than later, EVERYONE, young and old will have to deal with a loss. Sheltering, the worse thing you can do to your kids. Just as bad as abusing them or neglecting them. In essence that’s what your doing when you shelter them.

    This dumb ass should hangout with the “no hugging” principal. I can be almost certain, that these two grew up with no friends and no affection. So if they had to grow up without them, the kids under their authority shouldn’t either. See what happens when you mess up a kid’s childhood, they grow up to be insecure dumb asses, that has a chip on their shoulder. But they don’t know how to deal with it. Maybe the Superintendent who thinks the “no hugging” policy is sound, should join them as well. And they can just all stand there and stare at each other.

  24. Sometimes the hug bans are about preventing inappropriate touching of children, by adults As if child molesters are going to do that out in public. But, sorry to be a wet blanket, sometimes the hug bans in middle schools are instituted because the hugging has become a big fad, there are massive group hugs that block the hallways, kids are getting hugged who don’t want to be hugged (and/or, kids are excluded from group hugs by the “mean girls.”). In a word, hugs have become a big part of the social pecking order, and are done in an intentionally disruptive way. When this happened at our middle school, I had no problem with a ban on hugging. What happened was that after a while, that group of kids moved on to HS, and normal hugs returned, with no complaint from the school administration.

  25. @ wellcraftedtoo: Really? I grew up in the early 70s, and not one of any of the schools I attended, right till I graduated University, ever ban or frowned upon students hugging each other. Until now, I’ve never heard of any school banning hugs. In elementary school, our teachers encouraged affection. When we did well in class, she would give us a hug. Like our parents would when they were proud of us. Or when we got hurt, to calm and console us. When students fought, they would teach us to apologize to each other, and hug and make up. In high school, the only thing we were told to refrain from, was making out in the hallways. THAT I can understand. Because that’s when real “inappropriate” touching took place. lol The psychological evolution of our society is going in the complete wrong direction. And it’s not a good thing.

  26. @ Jane: Then a “ban” is not the answer. Educate the kids as to WHY such hugging (if that is the reason of the ban) is inappropriate. That’s like sheltering. You pull the kids away, but they never really learn and understand WHY. To them, that’s just how it is. “Hugging is bad”, is what they understand with out given a reason to WHY. That is the problem when it comes to children these days. Things are removed, but never solved. So the problem is there, and will always be there. Society now, instead of teaching our children how to face those challenges, they cover their eyes and tell them not to pay attention. Especially to something that they will have to deal eventually, inevitably. And everyone who has common sense knows, learning early is better than learning late.

  27. Eric S., with all due respect, the kind of showy, aggressive, and controlling hugging that was going on (in other middle schools in our area too) was completely understood to be a form of social control by most of the students, and they didn’t miss it. The majority of the students needed an adult to control the minority of students who were using hugging as a token of superiority, not a sign of affection.

  28. @ Jane: Again, banning isn’t the answer. That’s luck sweeping dirt under the rug. Re-read my last post to you.

  29. KInda sorta, but not really off topic. lol http://onion.com/9PksnA

  30. *That’s ‘like’. Not ‘luck’. lol

  31. You hugged me! Now I’m traumatized! /sarcasm

    It was really cute this morning when my 3 year old ran up and hugged my 7 year old’s teacher. I read with the kids in his class a lot, and some of them are very much into hugging.

    As for best friends, my son still mopes a little about his best friend who switched over to home schooling because things weren’t working out well for his family at the school. They can still see each other outside of school, but at recess and such, it’s just not the same for my son. It has been a good lesson, of course, that he can get by without his best friend, and that there are other kids to play with. My son is the sort who prefers to have one or two close friends rather than be in a crowd. Banning best friends would be really hard on him.

  32. When I taught school ten years ago in CA it was taboo to hug the students. Which was unfortunate since many of them were in serious need of some physical affection. We were told that they could come up and hug us, but we couldn’t initiate a hug or really hug them back. It was to protect us (the teachers) from sexual harassment allegations. It was really sad. I taught second grade. Among my students were children who came from seriously ravaged homes and were desperate for affection. The banning of best friends is just as ridiculous. Come on, that’s part of life. Making friends, losing them, moving on, and making new friends. Sure losing a best friend hurts, but it’s just the facts of life. How can the government ban something that isn’t tangible like that anyway?

  33. It’s easy to blame the schools, but their reactions are just a symptom of a bigger problem – lack of trust. Kids are taught to trust no-one. How would you respond to someone you don’t trust telling you what to do? Most likely you’d just ignore them and then carry on doing whatever it was you were doing. This is what I see happening in the school where I teach. It is almost impossible to teach kids anything until you’ve established a relationship of trust with them. And because kids today are taught to NOT trust adults, it takes SOOOOO much longer, and is so much more difficult, to establish trust with school kids nowadays.

    While I don’t agree with what these schools are doing, berating them is just making things worse, by reinforcing the cycle of anti-trust. Here’s what I see happening: Kids won’t accept being redirected by people they don’t trust, school then takes things to the next level in desperation, parents then get up in arms, kids then are taught to not trust schools, kids won’t accept being disciplined by the schools their parents have taught them not to trust, etc, etc….

    It’s a chicken-and-egg thing, but much more scary!

  34. At what point do kids become immune to all this banning? The amount of largely innocuous things that are banned today for kids in some circles is staggering. Hugs, best friends, climbing, running, tv, juice, video games, junk food … I could go on all day naming commonly acceptable things that are getting banned for kids at home and school these days. Rather than teach kids moderation and proper behavior, we simply ban anything that could possibly be bad if used improperly or excessively.

    At some point, kids are going to be so used to stupid, commonly acceptable things being banned that all bans are treated with an eye roll and complete disregard. Things that really matter and behaviors that are truly unacceptable all become lumped in with all the other crap that is banned in their lives. Especially since 99.9% of the “bans” are treated with a wink and acceptance that they are all going on outside the sight of the banner.

  35. One of the “reward” options in my daughter’s class (used for positive reinforcement) is a hug from the teacher. They have stickers and other choices, but kids like affection! I think it’s sweet. Long live hugs, even in schools. What the hell is wrong with society that they actually have to ban this?

    On a totally different topic- my son came home from his friend’s house today completely pissed off. His friends meet after school on Fridays to play baseball, and today they met at a house right behind his elementary school. They were playing happily (on private property) when “some lady” from the school told them they had to go inside. She said a raccoon was spotted near school grounds. She told the boys racoons are nocturnal and that a raccoon out in the day may have rabies. So on one of the most beautiful days of spring, my son biked home (and apparently thought along the way) to go off on a tirade about how some adults take all of the fun away from kids with stupid reasons, like rabid raccoons.

  36. People have lost any sense of nuance. If something is bad or wrong somewhere, somehow in some situation, a ban is seen as the only solution. Often there are much better solutions.

    Evaluate what makes a hug inappropriate and ban those and if someone breaks the rule, don´t just give them detention or suspension but actually tell them what they did wrong // you know the teacher´s job.

    Scientific research actually shows that a single best friend — the kind you share you deepest secrets with, is enough to get lonely kids through school without any sort of emotional scars… not to mention the fact that getting and losing friendships is a great learning moment for later in life…

  37. My husband had a pretty rough childhood and one of his favorite memories is of getting a big, warm hug from his teacher. That memory warms my heart and it’s so sad that teachers and now kids are being reprimanded for hugging.

  38. Yea, but did you notice the microchipped kids in the photo are HUGGING!! (lol)

    Well – here’s what comes of all this policing deflecting attention from what kids are in school for….American HS kids read at 5th grade level.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/22/top-reading_n_1373680.html

  39. All this anti-school stuff is just part of the problem! Kids pick up on this stuff – they hear you criticizing the schools. Then they go back to school, after hearing you talk about how outrageous the schools’ decisions are, and guess what happens? Really, guess what happens?? (um… maybe they have less respect for the school and consequently even less response to discipline? Just a wild guess..)

    How about some open-minded questioning, some curbing of the need to blame? How about working WITH the school instead of AGAINST the school?

    I’m not saying schools are making good decisions, but then, neither are parents! And all of you at this site, who really examine and think about things, EVEN YOU, will enthusiastically jump to blame schools. You relish the finger-pointing! And even if you’re right, your reactions are NOT. Reacting by blaming schools instead of working with them, just makes things worse. Worse.

    Schools face more challenges than you realize; a teacher’s job is tougher than you realize. You can’t know until you’ve spent a day in their shoes. And kids in large groups are harder than ever before to teach. All due to a lack of trust, which almost all of you are contributing to!!

    Come on FRK people! Be constructive, not critical and destructive!

    “When you blame others, you give up your power to change.” Dr Robert Anthony

  40. @Erik..please refrain from using the word “tard”, here or anywhere else, forever. Thank you.

    I teach toddlers. I tell them they may never touch a person who does not want to be touched, be it a classmate or an adult. It doesn’t matter if it’s a hug or a pat or a smack. That way, all touching that DOES go on is comfortable and appropriate. Teaching children not to touch each other is barbaric and ridiculous.

    When my son was a senior in high school, he was reprimanded for kissing his girlfriend under the bleacher at a football game. My response: You are SUPPOSED to kiss your girlfriend under the bleacher at a football game!!!!

    I grew up in the early 70’s. When I was in high school, we laid all over each other, hugged, kissed (practically made out) and sat on laps all over the place (school included). Nobody stopped us. Not one of my friends has suffered any ill effects from this permissiveness.

    I have always taught my children that their bodies are their own and they have the right to say “no” to anything that makes them uncomfortable. How would it make sense to tell them they own their bodies but they don’t have the right to say “yes” to a touch if they have the right to say “no”. My kids are now 14, 20, 22, 25 and 28. They are all healthy, well-adjusted people.

    Sheesh…live and let live..kids included.

  41. Addendum: My 25-year-old has Aspergers Syndrome and struggles to shake hands and be socially appropriate. He has always been permitted to say “no” to touching from anyone, including family members. If they are offended, that’s is THEIR issue. Most people accept it when he asks not to be touched. Again, we need to allow “yes” if we allow “no” or we are being hypocritical about kids owning their own bodies.

  42. When my family was visiting Washington, DC last fall, my 5 year old noticed all the people in camouflage in various places. I explained that they were soldiers, and protected our country (I had told him previously, but we don’t see them so often in Michigan). So when he saw a pair of soldiers, a man and a woman, in a museum gift shop, he walked up to the one, grinned at her, then gave her a bear hug while saying “I love you, lady soldier!”. Made everyone’s day.

  43. “All due to a lack of trust, which almost all of you are contributing to!!”

    I agree it’s bad to undermine the schools in front of your kids.

    But how, exactly, are we supposed to “trust” people who come up with self-evidently idiotic policies? There is no justifiable reason for either of these, period. It may be true that there are real problem that they’re attempting to address, that might not be easy to deal with. But they literally forfeit any trust we might want to extend when in order to deal with problems, they ban perfectly appropriate forms of social behavior that kids *need* to learn to do appropriately. Just because they’re trying to solve a real problem doesn’t mean we can’t stand up and say, “You just came up with the worst imaginable way to deal with this, knock it off.”

    It would be as though in order to correct some problem with kids learning to read, they just decided that books were forbidden in school, and only programmed reading materials were allowed. It’s *that bad,* and we can’t “trust” people who run things this way.

  44. As a former middle school teacher I can tell you that the quick hugs of affection that you’re thinking of is not what goes on in middle school. Another poster referred to hugging being a way of showing a pecking order. I’ve never seen it that blatant, but I can well believe it.
    No, no, what I’ve seen, and what the administration is probably referring to, is the lean up against the lockers with the boy your interested every single body part melding into each other type hug or worse, the arm strangling the girl’s neck because she’s my property type hug. Every middle school I’ve worked at (I’ve worked at 4) had a ‘no PDA’ policy spelled out in their handbooks which included hugging. Teacher’s aren’t going after the quick hugs of one friend comforting the other or a hug good-bye by good friends, but yes, there are rules against that ‘other’ hugging. I’m pretty sure that this rule refers to PDA hugging, and not friend hugging.

  45. Re the Best Friends issue….maybe children should be banned from having pets, too, so that they will not get upset when the pet dies? I wonder if a parent grandparent dies, how are the kids going to be protected from that.

    Having best friends and breakups is part of natural human development and these kids, I imagine, will turn out to be rather odd adults

  46. It should be interesting to see how this all plays out with my daughters, who are in the same grade and are known to spontaneously hug each other. So far, I don’t think hugging has been banned in their class.

    They are not allowed to share food in school, though. I have one kid who is rather picky and another who would be glad to eat pick up the slack. So I told Miss Picky, give your sister whatever you don’t eat. The girls informed me that that is against the rules, even though they are sisters and share everything all day long. Needless to say, much food is wasted due to this policy.

  47. Personally I do try and encourage girls in particular to have more than one best friend – I had two through high school, as well as a handful of others in a group – because I think it can be helpful, but all you can do is encourage….It blows my mind that we think we can control kids to that extent. All they’ll do is go underground, and for their own mental health tell us less….

    We are encouraged as teachers not to hug the children, but I always respond to hugs from kids, and I love the comment about the snot….I have had it on skirts and stockings, luckily not tops, not from my school kids anyway!

    Echo the comment on breastfeeding too – my husband was evidently breastfed until he was seven, and several of his friends went to bed with bottles until they were nine or ten. In his case it had to do with poverty and a need for kids to have something ‘good for them’ for as long as possible. Though how much nutrition was involved I’m not sure about, as they all (including Mum) pretty much subsisted on rice and bovril.

  48. Z-girl said “Schools face more challenges than you realize; a teacher’s job is tougher than you realize. You can’t know until you’ve spent a day in their shoes. And kids in large groups are harder than ever before to teach. All due to a lack of trust, which almost all of you are contributing to!!”

    I am ashamed to say, I have been there. I have been a teacher, and I enforced the silly rules without question. But, they are just that, silly rules that don’t really make sense in most cases. Thankfully, the teaching did not last very long.

    You are right, kids in large groups are harder to teach. That is why I advocate for smaller, more locally controlled schools, with smaller class sizes for all students regardless of age. And, it is also why my kids are mostly homeschooled, with the classes that they do take limited to 15 kids per class.

    I feel it is healthy to question authority. To not take everything at face value. That I did so when I was teaching, not totally realizing the agenda of the schools makes me sad. And they did have an agenda, and it was not for every student to have a top notch education. Only the kids who came from professional families (doctor’s, lawyers) got that. Others got some vocational training, most were being trained to work in the couple of factories without questioning anything or making waves.

  49. I was lunch supervisor the other day, and one of the grade one boys says to me “Sarah said she loves me, and there’s no loving allowed at school.” I hope that isn’t really a rule. I told him he should love all of his friends.

  50. Ok I do see the point about hugging being used as a social manipulation tool, or being of the let’s-melt-into-each-other type. What I don’t see is how a blanket ban on hugging will help. The kids who engage in those kinds of inappropriate hugs are probably also the ones who don’t really care much about all the rules anyway, and will continue doing it every time they think they can get away with it.

  51. @skl1–The “no sharing food” rule is probably because of food allergies. So many foods have traces of peanuts or peanut oil, milk, eggs, etc., in them, that it’d be easy for a kid to innocently hand a friend, say, a chocolate-chip cookie that his mother baked, and send the friend into anaphylactic shock, because he didn’t realize that that cookie was baked on the same cookie sheet that his mom had used to make peanut-butter cookies for the church bake sale the day before. But, I’m sure that if you talked to the principal or something, they could make an exception for two sisters, without food allergies, who share everything anyway.

  52. @ Z-girl –

    Great theory if your goal is to create a bunch of people who never question rules and simply accept them at face value.

    Personally, I want my child to question why rules exist and be willing to fight against those that particularly bother her. There are alot of stupid rules and laws in place. If you never question them, you never change them. So I would have no problem discussing with my child the fact that I think that these rules are idiotic and why. I want her to question the way things are as she grows.

    That said, my child is also taught that breaking rules has consequences no matter how stupid the rule. You don’t get to ignore rules and laws without penalty because you think that they are dumb. You can choose to ignore a rule because you think it’s stupid, but you need to be willing to accept the penalty for doing so until the rule is changed (as long as the penalty is reasonable).

  53. […] School Bans Hugs (in New Jersey) and Best Friends (in Britain) (freerangekids.wordpress.com) […]

  54. For one who has really liked being hugged unless by family members, I have found “the hugging culture” for greetings a bit overwhelming. “Everyone” seemingly hugs everyone for saying hi. Not that I’ve ever been hugged in a “mean” way, I just prefer to well, not. This said, a ban is like incroaching on life.

    Anyway, how are kids to learn that physical touch is ok? will they look at hugging parents and think, damn, that’s really not ok.

    Best friends. I was an awkward child in school. I felt all the best-friending of my peers rather harshly, as in not being let in. I could have used a grown-up (as a teacher) to somehow maneuver me into groups. I could not have made much use out of a ban. On anything. Hugging or best-friends. As hard as the latter was.

    All this shows particularly anxious adults. What are they hoping to teach? And why? Fairness? Well, life isn’t fair. Prohibitions, bans, restrictions, whatever. It is more about adults trying to construct a perfect world than it is about teaching children what life is going to be like. What they are teaching now is an incredible ambiguity which is far worse that the bans themselves.

  55. First, there is a BIG difference between being negative about rules that do not teach or enforce what the problem they are trying to solve (like bans on all hugs if inappropriate hugs are your target) and being negative about schools. I am absolutely a fan and supporter of schools and teachers. Even though my kids aren’t school aged yet I am still an active volunteer as well as an out spoken supporter of my local public schools despite my in-laws anti-public schools stance. That does not mean that I can not be against a rule that creates problems rather than solves them. Being against such rules does not mean my children will grow up “against the system”. My mother was very much the same as I am in regards to the idea of fighting a bad rule but still supporting the school attitude. It is possible.

    Second, these bans fail miserably at teaching kids their intended lessons. Bans on hugs and best friends do not teach children appropriate social behavior. They teach children either that all personal connections are bad (thus depriving them of important contact for both their physical and emotional health now and in the future) or that these personal connections should be kept secret (thus leaving them open to being victims of inappropriate contact and not reporting it). Both of these outcomes are harmful to children. Just because schools had good intentions in implementing the bans do not mean the bans should stand nor that those who speak against them are anti-school. It means the bans need to be replaced by something that does not have the same negative, though unintentional, consequences.

  56. Jessica, my mom feels the same as you about hugs. She found that extending her hand for a handshake *before* a hugger could close in helped her keep from being overwhelmed while not offending the hugger. Most people pick up on the fact that she isn’t comfortable with hugs and appreciate the alternative gesture. Didn’t know if you have tried it but it’s worth a shot.

  57. Emily, my kids do not bring food, they eat the food served at school, which is already peanut-free. The kids with allergy concerns bring their own food and know not to eat anything else at school. I think it’s actually a germs thing, which is kind of funny since the kids spread germs very efficiently regardless of eating habits. I also think it’s funny that if one of my kids was sick yesterday but better today, she”s not allowed in school but her sister is. Chances are, the second kid is more contagious than the first at that point. Oh well, I guess they have to feel like they’re “doing something.”

  58. PS, I hate being hugged by any adult whom I’m not intimate with. Even by my parents. I rather wish there were established social norms where people would test to see whether you’re a hugger before they start to close in on you. It’s awkward to fake a hug, but I would not dare rebuff one. Some people need to get a clue.

  59. @ CrazyCatLady

    Sounds like you had a bad experience as a teacher. Does that mean all school districts are the same as the one you worked for? By giving up on schools, you’ve done exactly the same thing the schools are doing by banning hugs: you decided that you will no longer work WITH them and would rather just choose the extreme of banning.

    @ Donna

    I hear what you’re saying. Yes, it’s OK to disagree and discuss that with your kids. But most posts here are simply slamming the school WITHOUT any thought or discussion, or openness to working with the schools to change things. That is what frustrates me. I agree, some of the rules are ridiculous, but maybe, just possibly, they were made with the best interests of the kids in mind. That the end decision is NOT good is true. But in discussions with my own children, I would make sure to talk about what might possibly have led to the decision, and I would make sure to let my kids know that we should give those decision-makers the benefit of the doubt – that most likely their intentions were good. Then I would talk about using your own judgment about whether or not to follow those rules.

    I’m not naive – I just don’t agree with condemning schools. It harms our youth. As little as educators earn, you can be sure that almost every single educator entered their profession in order to help kids. Parents and educators need to work together, and the first thing needed is some level of trust.

  60. @ pentamom

    “But they literally forfeit any trust we might want to extend when in order to deal with problems, they ban perfectly appropriate forms of social behavior…..”

    So when a school makes a mistake, you react in the same way they did, by going to the extreme of “banning” all of your trust in them. If you make a mistake as a parent, you would hope that others would cut you some slack, and forgive you for being human. Why can’t we do the same for educators, who are only human after all? Say you reach the end of your tether and yell obscenities at your kids; does that mean no-one should ever trust you to be a good parent again? So these schools are “yelling” at the kids instead of teaching. Does that mean you should forfeit ALL of your trust in them?

    I don’t agree with the decisions that these schools have made. But forfeiting all of my trust on the basis of a few mistakes – well, I just don’t give up on people that easily, and I won’t give up on schools that easily either.

    If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

  61. Z-girl, most of the people who homeschool have done so based on a lot more than a few little issues. Many have tried to make “school” work but eventually determined that the schools were hurting their kids too much – and then kicked themselves for not pulling their kids out sooner. We’re not talking about “one little mistake.” We’re talking about a clear pattern of harming one or more children.

    I’m not a homeschooler at this point, but if I hadn’t taken certain matters into my own hands, if I’d trusted the schools to eventually do the right thing, my kids would have suffered. It is not wrong for a mother to put her own child first, as nobody else is responsible for bringing up that child.

    One of the biggest problems in our educational system is that schools do not have to be accountable to their clients. If a teacher wants to completely ignore my child’s needs, what’s stopping her? Nothing, other than my big mouth, assuming I have time to meet with her and she cares what I think. Plenty of teachers just think they know better and treat parents almost as badly as they treat the kids. How many chances do you think they should be given? And the school administration backs up the teachers regardless. How many chances should they get? Meanwhile a child may be learning little beyond how to hate himself.

    “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem?” OK, but since I have no rights to fire a teacher or principal, change the rules, or even decide which class my kid will be in, my part in the solution may well be to take my kids out and give them the education they deserve some other way.

  62. Z-girl – I get what you are saying but this is a blog, not a transcript of a conversation I would have with my child about the issue. Further, I see no evidence that anyone posting actually has kids who attend either of these schools so a large-scale discussion on how to work with the schools to change the rules seems a bit pointless.

    I’m not naive enough to think that every decision a school makes is for the good of the children. Many are for the good of the administration, teachers, insurance companies, and anyone else except the children. In fact, some are downright hostile toward the children, their development and their education. I’m not going to assume good-of-the-children motives for every rule. Nor do I think intentions always matter. If the rules are hostile to children’s needs, they are wrong even if with made with good intentions.

    Most people here outright slamming schools in general, rather than just these rules, are homeschoolers. Personally, as a pro-school would rather gnaw off my right arm than homeschool parent, I frequently find their comments annoying and less than helpful, but to each their own.

    And, even I, an anti-homeschooling parent, can admit that schools have done much to lead us to question our trust in them. It is not just two stupid rules at two individual schools. It is a plethora of problems at all schools, for which these two rules are just an example. I’m anti-homeschooling because it is the complete antithesis of the lifestyle that I want for my family, not because I think schools are great.

  63. @ skl1

    I guess I haven’t seen anything like what you’re describing: teachers who “just think they know better and treat parents almost as badly as they treat the kids.” That’s appalling and needs to be changed! Also, your “school administration backs up the teachers regardless”. I haven’t ever seen that either! We have almost the opposite at our schools. So maybe I’ve been really fortunate and have encountered the minority of school districts that are the opposite of what you describe, or maybe (and I naively hope this is the truth) YOU have encountered the minority of bad schools. I guess it’s a mistake to assume that a ‘good’ school/district like mine, or a ‘bad’ school/district like yours, are the only type of schools/districts there are.

    I also applaud you for stepping in to take matters into your own hands. That’s what you are there for: to advocate for you child if the school isn’t able to meet their needs. But…. you have to start with the assumption that the school will do their best for your child. This starting point of some small level of trust is necessary. But then you also have to understand that they simply cannot meet the needs of all kids (so many assume that schools should be able to – but really, this is impossible!). So you have to step in. That’s a positive thing!! That’s what’s needed: parents and schools working together. It’s a relationship, and like all relationships it needs input from BOTH sides. It seems to me that parents often seem to think that if they have to work at making the school-parent relationship WORK then something is wrong with the school. NOT SO! It’s like marriage: you can’t sit back and do nothing to improve the relationship, and then complain when your spouse makes decisions you don’t agree with.

    Jamie Vollmer is a reformed critic of schools, who is now their biggest advocate. I really recommend his book “Schools cannot do it alone”. The title says it all.

  64. Z-girl: nope, I don’t have to start with the assumption that the school will do their best for my child. I have to investigate and ask what they will do for my child, without assuming anything. Which I did. And I was told “we don’t do that” dozens of times, by numerous people at multiple schools. After a great deal of “squeaky wheel” behavior and the passage of several months, I finally got for my kid what she needed at that point in time – but given that she is only 5, this may not be my last battle. Most parents would have given up before the battle was over, and I would not have blamed them. Long-term homeschooling is not a realistic option for me as a single mom, so maybe that is why I fought harder.

    I’ve seen teachers destroy the spirit of many school children, with lifelong consequences. No way do I blame homeschoolers for wanting better for their chidren. I don’t personally think homeschooling is best for “every” child/family, but I do believe it’s best for some.

    My mom was one who advocated strongly when her kids needed better treatment. You know, trying to be “part of the solution.” It is one of the most frustrating things in a mom’s life. The things that teachers and principals say to parents at times are amazing. It’s a fact that these folks, on average, have relatively low college achievement, are highly power-motivated, and are entrenched in their union-protected jobs. Of course most teachers are good and a net benefit for kids, but when you’re up against the difficult ones or have a child with unique needs, it’s rough. At some point your kid shouldn’t keep having to take one for the team.

  65. I have to agree with Z-girl that our kids do pick up on our criticisms of the school system. Even if they don’t hear us directly, they do pick up on it! I’m very careful not to criticize my husband in front of my kids (and him the same). However, our kids commented the other day how “Daddy doesn’t do chores around the house” and “Mommy is in charge”. My husband and I were shocked but then we looked at how, without criticizing, he asks me what jobs he should do on the weekend (he typically travels during the week) and I tell him what needs to be done, has been neglected or what I need help with. I can just imagine what my kids heard when I was criticizing rant to my neighbour for having her AC on in March and we’re in Canada!

    I have many times disagreed with my children’s school and teacher but I never, ever say anything about it in my child’s presence. I usually wait until the kids are asleep or out of the house to talk about these issues. Even when I disagree with my child’s teacher, I still have a lot of respect for his/her job. I don’t know who would want to be in a room full of crazy children all day and not only keep their safety in mind but teach them! Then to deal with their parents before and after school and during their supposed lunch break! It’s bad enough dealing with a problem child but to deal with their parents would be a million times worse. It’s hard enough for us parents to adequately meet the needs of our own multiple children but we expect teachers to cater to their 30 students in six hours each day. I have a lot of empathy with what teachers go through and being disrespectful towards them is not going to help my children, regardless of how justified I feel I am.

    I made the error one night of getting caught ‘running a red light’. I was make a right hand turn and did one of those slow down, check for cars, and go through. Of course, I got caught and I was mad. What made it worse for me was that I had two children asleep in the car (we were on the road at 11:00 pm after the week on holiday) and the office shined his flashlight into their faces and woke them up. Once we were done, I muttered something (I can’t remember what) and one of the kids overheard me. I know I shouldn’t have said what I did. It is never right to insult someone, especially when they are not around to defend themselves. I took responsibility for my actions and told my child that I was upset that I was not being as careful as I should when I was driving and I was given a ticket but that the officer was only doing his job, checking to make sure that everyone was safe in our car, which they were. I want my children to respect all people, regardless if they are in a position or authority or not. If you really feel the need to criticize someone, then go tell them rather than ranting about it and not giving them the opportunity to explain themselves.

  66. My school hasn’t banned hugs but we have had to ask our intermediate (grades 6-8) students not to. The reason being that the students have this need to hug their peers every time they see them again. We have eight periods a day so when the kids enter the classroom in period five and see their friend from third period, they need to hug them again. Or when they return from the bathroom, another hug. It had become quite disruptive to classroom teaching with the start of every period as a hug-fest that we had to remind students that it is not necessary to hug your friends every time you see them. Do you hug your coworkers at the start of every meeting? Do you hug your friends when you return from the washroom? We used this situation as a moment to teach children about appropriate social interactions. There are also many kids who are not part of the inner circle that are excluded from these hug-ins and where does that leave them? Some kids also just don’t want that physical interaction with their peers but are compelled to do it in order to fit in.

    I’m not too sure why people are surprised hugging was banned, we had a no PDA rule when we were kids in high school and now it seems to be that this has moved down to junior high school-aged students. There is a time and a place to hug people and the start of every class, isn’t one of them.

    Just to note, my school also does a group hug at assemblies and in classrooms to celebrate when we all do a great job and it’s okay for teachers to hug students.

  67. “So when a school makes a mistake, you react in the same way they did, by going to the extreme of “banning” all of your trust in them. If you make a mistake as a parent, you would hope that others would cut you some slack, and forgive you for being human.”

    If I saw the error of my ways, I’d hope they’d forgive me. They can’t exactly forgive me if I just keep doing the same dumb thing over and over without admitting I was wrongt, though, because I wouldn’t be wanting forgiveness, I’d be asking for agreement that I’ve nothing to be sorry for. They can overlook my faults, sure — and I’m not suggesting that these people be burned at the stake or anything, just that they’ve most certainly forfeited any kind of implicit “trust” some seem to think I should extend.

    Look, I’m not saying you immediately assume a 100% hostile stance because of one thing they do wrong. I’m saying you can’t cut them slack and just assume they’ll always do the right thing when right in front of you, they are doing something that is OBVIOUSLY AND INARGUABLY STUPID. That doesn’t mean that I think that everything they do in the future will be stupid, but it does mean I can’t just lean back and “trust” that their next decision will be wise — I’m going to have to relinquish trust, for a more cautious approach.

  68. “Just because schools had good intentions in implementing the bans do not mean the bans should stand nor that those who speak against them are anti-school. It means the bans need to be replaced by something that does not have the same negative, though unintentional, consequences.”

    Precisely. In reference to some earlier comments, BTW, I’m a bit of a rare bird — I have homeschooled all of my kids up through middle school, and so far each has started public high school in 9th grade. (#4 is already registered for next year.) So I am absolutely not “anti-school,” but on the other hand, I’m fairly quick to make judgments about whether the schools are serving me or not. Because I have homeschooled and have always considered it an option on the table, I’ve always had a very “consumerist” and non-deferential attitude toward the schools — if I think I can do it better at a certain time or for a certain reason, I WILL attempt it. (However, the fact that I’ve never attempted it beyond 8th grade also indicates that I’m not hair-trigger on that decision.)

    But that doesn’t mean my attitude is hostile, either. There are things in my kids’ high school I don’t like, and I put up with it. If it’s a small thing, I encourage my kids to live within the rules, because life is like that. But if something is stupid, really REALLY stupid, like trying to teach appropriate social behavior by trying to make kids into non-social robots, I’m going to say it. Not in front of my kids in those strong terms, no, but they’ll know my opinion if I think a rule is dumb, and if I think it’s downright harmful, they’ll know why. And frankly, something like that would definitely affect my decision about where they’d be educated next year, and that kind of making really stupid rules that don’t help the problems they’re intended to solve and only make other things worse, is one of the reasons my kids have never attended public elementary school.

  69. “There are also many kids who are not part of the inner circle that are excluded from these hug-ins and where does that leave them?”

    Not hugging? I think this is the problem in thinking for most of these rules – that all people need to be included or it needs to be banned. There are always going to be people left out. Heck, last night the other ladies from work went out for dinner and I wasn’t invited (my lack of babysitter is well known and they didn’t want my child to come). Yes, a part of me felt left out, although I completely understood why I was not invited. I’ll live. I am not scarred for life.

    Bullying should not be tolerated, but life is never going to be a utopia of inclusiveness. People are always going to prefer some individuals over others. Some people are always going to be outside the “inner circle” looking in. Feelings are going to get hurt. We can’t create a perfect childhood for our children and they will ultimately a lot happier if we teach them to find their own nook in life rather than trying to force some showing of utopia that we all know doesn’t exist.

    Further, these rules don’t work. The unhugging kids are still not part of the inner circle. Not calling someone your “best friend” does not make you stop preferring that person’s company above all others. Insisting that everyone be invited to a birthday party doesn’t actually make the birthday girl want all the children there and the recipient KNOWS they are not really wanted so the invitation is not a positive for her.

    FYI, I’m not really supporting allowing children to hug at every meeting. That’s just ridiculous.

  70. Donna, I agree with everything you said.

    “FYI, I’m not really supporting allowing children to hug at every meeting. That’s just ridiculous.”

    And could be dealt with, “That’s enough now. Let’s get to….” whatever the kids should be doing instead. Or, “Susie, let’s not hug Mary every time you walk past her. That’s not grownup behavior.”

    That kind of tactic can be used if the kids are wasting time hugging, or if hugging has become some kind of weird social ritual that is having some kind of noticeable negative effect. It won’t end the negative effects entirely, but damping down the rituals damps down the pecking order at least a bit. Kids can’t be ultimately protected from this kind of social ugliness but they can have its effects mitigated if the outward signs of it are subtly discouraged. And as one who spent basically my whole childhood getting cut out, let’s just say that I know that nothing could have made all my problems go away, but I sure am glad that in those days, a certain order and decorum were maintained that kept that kind of thing at a dull roar.

    But there has to be a RULE? A ban? Because something essentially happens too much or inappropriately, we place kids in a position where they incur punishment for doing it ever, at all? Madness.

  71. Z-girl, I haven’t given up on schools. I have given up on the system that is used in the majority of schools. Most public schools as they are now operated were created with the philosophy of making a willing workforce that would follow the directions. I would rather follow a different philosophical model. Which was not something that I really learned about when I was getting my teacher certificate, because I have always felt that learning was something to be loved, not a means to a compliant work force.

    My kids are actually enrolled in a public school, but we use a homeschooling model that allows my kids to take a few classes at the school, but do the majority of their learning at home. This model best serves the needs of my kids, who have various needs that are outside “normal.”

    After my kids all graduate, it is my hope to replicate a wonderful program of parent liaisons, where a non-school person helps serve as mediator between issues at the school and home. The community where I saw this working really loved this – both the parents and the schools.

    Schools should be able to serve every kid. Size has a lot to do with the inability to serve each kid. As some one else said, I am not going to allow my kids “to take one for the team.” There are options. I do have plans to help make schools better, just not at the expense of my own kids.

    The school where I taught, and where my daughter started school, had major things, more than just one stupid rule. The problems were system wide, and one parent was going to be able to do very little to change it. One stupid rule, sure, I can take that on. But the whole system…not worth my children’s education.

  72. I think expecting a single school to serve every kid is asking too much. Size isn’t the only issue. Kids are simply different and need different things. Further, parents want different things from their children’s schools. What makes a good school for one kid may not work for another. What one parent wants for their child’s education may be the complete opposite of what others want.

    There are two well-though-of private schools in American Samoa that serve the non-Samoan population (some Samoans attend as well but they have many other schools on the island while palagis exclusively attend one of these two schools). At elementary school level, the schools are vastly different. One is highly driven with no recess or field trips, and with lots of homework, science projects and final exams for kindergarteners. The other is more laid-back with recess, many field trips, no letter grades or tests. The Americans fall squarely on the side of one school or the other as the better school. I chose the laid back school for my daughter. Many vehemently believe that the more rigorous program is better. The achievement of the two schools seems to be fairly equal (except in math but I don’t like how the other school gets there).

    No one school is going to please everyone. A lot less stupid rules would certainly help, but our ideas of what kids need education-wise is widely divergent today. A school can’t be both rigorous and laid-back. You can’t let some kids go to recess while others drill math for hours. A charter/magnet school model system where each school has different strengths might work, but one school is never going to satisfy everyone.

  73. I resent how all schools get tarred with this brush. If you walked in my school at 7 am you would witness
    1. A member of administration core team greeting kids and talking to parents. The greeting might be a word, a high five, a slap on the back, or a hug.

    2. In the caf 2nd member of core team greets students same way. This person makes sure kids get breakfast and to any early morning tutorials.

    3. Cafeteria 3 teacher aides (all certified teachers looking for teaching jobs in this time of RIFs.) Supervising kids – more hugs and high fives. Spotting kids who might have had a rough night. Johnny did you have to drive into M.D. Anderson for Mom’s treatment last night. Yes well do you want to go take a nap in nurse’s office before you start class. Cecil you didn’t get dinner last night – here have 2 breakfasts, I’ll talk to Ms. T. (Ms. T will arrange for Mom to get to the food bank. She got laid off, Dad was killed in a car wreck last year).

    4. Tutorials – kids greeted asked what they need help in.

    5. Gym quiet kids sit in grade level lines and read.
    6. 7:45 bell rings kids walk to class. Greeted in the hallways by aides, specials teachers, and core team. Teachers greet at the classroom door handshakes, high fives, and hugs.

    Through out the day kids give us hugs, each other hugs, the principal might walk past a class in the hall and give every kid a high five.

  74. I was just referred to your page by someone commenting on my blog, Arrogant-SOB.com. I really like the term “Free-range Kids”, and it absolutely describes my own parenting views, as I outline often in my blog. just not nearly as delicately as you do. Job well done, and I will be coming around often.
    ArrogantSOB
    Arrogant-SOB.com

  75. Just yesterday I was a little shocked to read an email in which a teacher friend, describing the joy she felt at a small child’s profound response to a subject under discussion, went on to say, “I felt like squishing her” and she went on “almost broke the child protection policy”.
    Now, it does occur to me that ‘squishing’ a child might not always be best pedagogical practice, but just to constrain oneself because of a policy, that just makes the whole learning experience confusing for all.

  76. You know I was stabbed in the arm with a pencil when I was 4th grade. Horrifyingly they didn’t ban pencils! Here I was, a former stabbing victim being forced to be around the very implement of my *sob* victimization for all those remaining school years. Can you believe that they let such a dangerous potential weapon to be handled by all those students, and even their use encouraged by teachers? I mean, I had a scar on my arm (because the carbon tip broke off under the skin) for *years*! If they are going to ban hugs because someone might feel uncomfortable I demand they ban pencils so that no other kid has to be a victim of such brutality!…
    (If you can’t tell that was sarcasm, although the event was real. Jerk boy in my class turned around and stabbed, then twisted to break off the lead, a freshly sharpened pencil when I asked him if he was done with the sharpener, as he was standing right in front of it talking with his buddy after using it). I’d be tempted to send a letter detailing my ‘trauma’ and subsequent demand that such vile weapons be banned as an example of how absurd they are being to these idiots, but given that they are foolish enough to ban hugs, i’d be too concerned they’d actually think my point was valid and make kids start writing with crayons until high school or something. *rolls eyes*

  77. The school my daughter went to for First Grade banned hugging as well. As a result there seemed to be much more pushing and shoving. Kids need physical contact. If they can’t get good contact, they’ll settle for what I consider to be bad conduct – violent contact.
    I talked to the teachers and principal about it after my daughter was pushed to the ground several times one day and no one stepped in. The day before it had happened to another girl – the game was the boys would chase the girls and then push them down.
    I said, wow back in my day the boys would chase us and then hug us or kiss us on the cheeks, her response “Oh, we’re not allowed to hug or kiss at school. That’s inappropriate.”
    My response – to go ask her teacher and the principal how pushing and shoving were more appropriate than hugging.
    Their answer – they were scared of sexual assault lawsuits, so all positive physical contact had been banned.
    Mind you, this was in the supposedly uber progressive, liberal town of Boulder, CO.
    Needless to say we moved after first grade. Now my kids are allowed to hug, as are teachers.
    I volunteer once a week at the school and let me tell you, I hug the bejeezus out of those kids every time I go in. They’re kids. They need hugs.

  78. Off-topic but related to schools; a coach tried to make practice “fun” (maybe a dumb decision), but basically nothing happened and he is charged with felony child abuse.

    http://www.channel3000.com/news/30754720/detail.html

  79. @thinkbanned thoughts – I LOVE your story!

  80. Ms. Herberts – yours is a rare and beautiful environment.

    Gosh folks – hasn’t anyone notice that modern school architecture looks like a prison? Coincidence? Think about it.

  81. I just read the “no hugging” article and am appalled. Really? Next, they will be taking away color from elementary schools.

  82. I grew up in an area where people didn’t and don’t go around hugging everybody. My friends in school never hugged. It’s so uncomfortable when you get around hugging people. All those air kisses! It’s great when you great a friend who you know is not a hugger and you can just smile and say “hi!”. My 5th graders would feel very uncomfortable with people hugging them. People don’t hug at the office. Do you really have to hug at school? We all know about those inappropriate hugs. My aren’t the boys so friendly all of a sudden.

  83. My wish for the idiots responsible for both of these bans is that they should be made to read Rudyard Kipling’s STALKY &COMPANY. Their pointed little heads would explode.

    Education Professionals need to be brought to understand that they are not psychiatrists, or social workers, and that they need to limit the amount of meddling they do with children’s attitudes. All of their Pop-Psyche strikes me as likely to convince the kids that the teachers are their implacable enemies, and by extension so are all agents of the State. Which, come to think of it, isn’t a bad lesson to learn, but it shouldn’t be true of the schools. There was a time when Parents had much more local control, and it wasn’t.

  84. Oh, I’m all for this in co-ed middle school and high school. I hate the rampant, groping girl/boy hugs that last for a full minute, complete with swaying and smushing each other. Full frontal smash! I sent my now 9th grader (who was shy and awkward) to an all boy high school to get away from the constant assaults, yes I said it, from the girls, who were all about getting their kicks out of hugging the boys every day. His face would be bright red as he tried to make his way from the car into the school while dodging as many girls as possible. It IS an ISSUE!

    I once had a car load of 8th grade girls knock on my van window and go on and on about how cute my son was and could I please make him give them hugs? Uh, no!

    I told my 7th grade daughter that she isn’t allowed to hug the boys every time she sees them unless she hugs me every time she sees me. I guess the schools could find a way to ban these sexual hugs and show the kids the difference. I’m not against all hugs, but I’ve seen it from the perspective of a shy boy and it is painful.

  85. slk1 – assuming you are in the US. The no sharing from school trays is NOT a school rule. It is a federal regulation of the free and reduced lunch program. It has a logical beginning.

    Parents were coming to school at lunch time with smaller children – and taking their school aged child’s lunch and giving it younger kids. The law that governs the free and reduced lunch program mandates that kids get X number of items and no-one can take food from their tray.

    When I taught 4th and 5th grade I went out and got food near the end of the pay cycle. I had kids tell me regularly I had to give my dinner to younger sibling because there wasn’t enough. Our core team now checks with older siblings that they not only had breakfast but dinner the night before.

    We also have Lunches of Love program. On Fridays children in need take home lunches for Saturday and Sunday. The oldest sibling at our school gets 2 lunches for every child under 18 in the house. For long weekends they get extra lunches. Over breaks that are a week or more – the charity gets a count of families that will be home during the holiday and comes to the school at a designated time each day to hand out food.

  86. @Beth–I read the article, but I’ve never heard the expression “chemistry practice” before, so I wasn’t quite sure what the author meant by that, but I guess it was just a regular chemistry class. But, while the “dry ice” thing might have been better if the teacher warned the students to come to class wearing long pants (or skirts) and long sleeves that day, and had them wear safety goggles too, then it could have been a fun and safe experience. When I was in high school, in grades nine and ten, we did labs in science class, with Bunsen burners, hot plates, dangerous chemicals, and glass test tubes that broke easily–I once accidentally broke one by trying to clean it with a brush that was too big. My grade ten science teacher also did some pretty awesome demonstrations; my favourite being the “Methane Mamba,” which created a ring of fire on the ceiling, without actually burning it–it left a brown mark, but nothing else. He also exploded root beer with a piece of metal one time. Anyway, I stopped taking science after grade ten, because it’s not really my forte (I was more into the “artsy” subjects like music and drama), but I’ll always have those memories, and so will my classmates. I’d hate to think that young people now don’t get to do those things, because someone, somewhere has decided that it’s not “safe.” We learned to be safe in the lab, by being given the opportunity to do the right thing, and only excluded from labs if we deliberately broke the rules (honest mistakes were handled with a warning, and a Band-Aid/ice/eyewash/whatever). Besides, what about the students who do go on to science-related fields in university? How are they supposed to find their way around the (probably) much more dangerous labs there, if they’ve never had a chance to practice and make mistakes?

  87. wtf, how do you even enforce the no best friend policy? are just going to seperate every one from every one else and control their lives? just fuck off bitches and let kids live their lives. And for new jersey, are your not even alowed to hug your older sister or brother because you love them? have you guys lost your minds?[oh!! look i found it, its a pile of shit!! no wonder people call you shit heads]

  88. Kimberly, my kids go to a private daycare/KG, which does not have free / gov’t sponsored meals. Either way, that policy sounds awful. I’m sure it is well-intentioned, but look at all the food that is going to waste. Where I live, parents don’t come in and eat lunch with their kids. I understand that that is customary in some parts of the US, but it seems to me that a federal law forcing all kids to discard food that another child might desire to eat is the wrong way to solve the problem you described.

    Really, the waste that this country commits in the name of “good intentions” is shameful.

  89. @Clare53- what Ms.Hebert describes is not a “rare” environment but that reality of what most classrooms across North America look like. It’s sad that most people have left school so long ago and bring their baggage about the issues that they had with the school system when they were a child, and push them onto their own children, creating a cycle of disinterest and disrespect towards teachers and the school system. This blog has become more of a “let’s bash teachers and the school system” rather than celebrating the achievements and successes that go on each and every day. I hear a lot of talk here about how we shouldn’t make decisions about not letting our children do something (like walk home alone) because of the few cases of children who go missing but rather focus on the (not-reported) cases of millions of children who arrive home safely each day. Can we not do this as well for the school system?

  90. Haven’t had time to read all the comments yet, but I agree with some that I read that say that the ban on hugging is a missed opportunity for kids to learn about appropriate and inappropriate physical contact. If a hug turns into holding onto someone against their will, shouldn’t that be dealth with like any other form of violence? You could try to break someone’s fingers when shaking hands too.

    And the best friends ban… Oh how sad! And this is coming from someone who has often wished that her daughter would just play with the whole class so she would not always come whingeing to me about her best friend of the day being mean to her, etc. But if she would not have had these best friends issues, I would not have worked with her on being more resilient and standing up for herself and dealing with rejection, etc. Which are skills she will have for life.

  91. I see a lot more people here complaining that people are condemning all schools over this, than people condemning all schools over this. I guess there are a handful of comments with that tone, but I think if you see that in many of the comments, you’re inferring a blanket condemnation that isn’t there, from a sharp criticism of *the particular situation we’re discussing.*

  92. Oh and here in Australia a hug is the most common form of greeting amongst friends. Not having grown up here, it still makes me feel awkward. But it is how my 7yo says goodbye to her friends, with a big, squishy hug.

    @Marianne Thanks for that perspective. It sounds like this issue may not be as black and white as some of us had thought.

  93. @Jenn. If I understand your comment to be directed at me, your assumptions are wrong Jenn. I have first hand, and recent knowledge of urban schools. I have CA teaching credential, gained in 2009. I was so appalled by the public school system I decided to take my two masters degrees and add a PhD to them, which I am working on now.

    Furthermore, I did not “leave school so long ago and bring baggage about the issues that I had with the school system when I was a child” to this forum. I went to grade school in the 60s and high school in the 70s. That’s when CA schools were the top rated in the nation. And when America’s schools were the top rated in the world. Now our schools spend their time evading frivolous lawsuits and wrapping kids in cellophane. I’m sorry you don’t like the tone these articles produced, but something IS rotten in Denmark. Didn’t you see the latest study that came out this week? A great many of our high school kids read at 5th grade level. I believe it alright, because I am now teaching many of them who somehow make it into college and cannot write their way out of a paper bag. Lacking that skill usually indicates a reading weakness in the background. I believe it because of what I saw in the high schools while getting my teaching degree. I believe it because my dissertation work requires my accumulating stories exactly like the ones that started this thread and there are dozens and dozens of such stories. I have seen what happens to good teachers who are simply compassionate people who care deeply about kids, and then their actions become twisted in the mind of perverted people.

    So while our kids can’t even read at high school level and our graduation rate nationwide hovers around 75%. In France the last year of the Lycee (high school) is devoted to philosophy. It’s the year the students really delve into the great questions and put together what they’ve learned, reading Sartre, Heidegger, Kant, Foucault, Nietzsche. Contrast this with taking slide-by classes to get through the senior year and reading books at a 5th grade level.

  94. You can’t compare the US school statistics with most other countries on a one-on-one basis. France, and most other countries at the top of the rankings, have two school tracks – vocational and high school. Kids who don’t pass the exam for high school must go to vocational school. The country’s statistics then only reflect the kids in the traditional high school. Of course most go on to graduate and have high scholastic achievement. The unmotivated and dumb get funnelled off into a separate school before high school. Our numbers would look a whole helluva lot better too if we just included motivated college bound students.

    I don’t think American schools are perfect but I get tired of people insisting that other counties are so much better based on statistics that don’t include half their population.

  95. Donna, Thank you for defending schools and explaining how the testing works. But please do not call the kids who go to vocational schools dumb. Some very intelligent people are more suited to vocational type training.

    Another thing people should know is that under No child left behind no teacher left standing ever single child is tested. That means tomorrow (March 27, 2012) across Texas children who have severe developmental delays, children who will always need some type of guardian to protect them are being force to take the STAAR test. This is no longer a test designed to test them at their level but will test them at a standard grade level.

    I am not talking about kids with LD’s, who often have above normal intellegence but problems processing information. But children who often are non verbal, with severe brain damage of one type or another.

    Thank you President Bush. President Obama get busy repealing this stupid law.

  96. Donna, I agree with you that comparing a tracked system and a non-tracked system head to head is unfair and misleading. Those kids in vocational school aren’t dumb or even necessarily unmotivated (they may, as Kimberly says, just have skills more suited to less academic, more hands-on pursuits) but none of them get anywhere near studying Foucault at age 17. (I have my doubts whether kids of that age, with only rare exceptions, have the mental and emotional maturity to gain anything from that kind of thing other than rote repetition of what they’re told about it, anyway. It sounds wonderful but what’s the real value?)

    Still, there is no reason that any statistically significant number of non-disabled kids should be reading at a fifth-grade level after 13 years of education. If that statistic is accurate as portrayed, there IS a serious problem.

  97. When statistics say that there are more high school student reading at a grade 5 level, it’s because in the past (up to the early 90’s) students with special needs were often excluded from the education system but are now integrated. The data from previous generations is skewed because you have taken out of the equation almost 75% of our identified kids today. Special needs students only in recent years have received full rights in the education system (and within society). But with integration, it means that you sometimes have a classroom teacher is not fully versed in that particular disability, a wide variety of ability and learning ranges and then kids with behaviour problems in today’s classroom. Our high school graduation rates have climbed and we have fewer students being held behind (along with that fewer kids being promoted early). We have more ESL and ELL students due to immigration too! The average student does not receive the same attention as they did in the past. I’m surprised that a Phd candidate, can’t see the flaws in the statistics. You say that kids can’t read but at the same time, maybe those `failing’ readers are astronomical mathematicians, athletes, musicians or student leaders. Classrooms today work with the testing that we have to do and look at the whole child via multiple intelligences. Looking only at reading statistics isn’t a measure of how well or poorly the education system is doing.

  98. I didn’t mean to imply that all vocational school students are dumb or unmotivated in life in general. Many do have a lack of interest in traditional classes, and that lack of interest usually translates into a lack of achievement regardless of overall intelligence. My brother is one of these. Perfectly intelligent man who barely attended high school due to lack of interest in and lack of motivation to study the typical subjects required.

    That said, ALL children in the US, no matter how uninterested, unmotivated or slow, are required to attend one college-geared school system until age 16. Our nation’s unmotivated and slow (whether in general or just towards typical high school classes) ARE in our statistics. France has siphoned off their unmotivated and slow learners before the statistics become relevant.

    “there is no reason that any statistically significant number of non-disabled kids should be reading at a fifth-grade level after 13 years of education.”

    You think unmotivated students just become unmotivated in high school? Nah, the lack of motivation, proper encouragement and study habits go all the way back to kindergarten. They never achieve reading at over a 5th grade level because they don’t care to, not because US schools only make it possible to learn at a 5th grade level. Now there is something to be questioned as to why these children keep getting passed to the next grade when they read so poorly but much of that is based on the requirement for mandatory education, whether you want it or not, until age 16 and the impossibility of handling 15 year olds in 4th grade.

  99. Claire, that study said that many students are CHOOSING BOOKS on a 5th grade level, not that they can’t read harder books.

    It may be that they can’t read harder books, but when books as diverse as The Hunger Games, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Outsiders, and Of Mice and Men are all listed as being on a “fifth grade level”, you can see that the leveling system is fairly meaningless.

    Indeed, different leveling systems will assign wildly varying levels to the same book. A book that’s “appropriate for first grade” in one system will be on a third grade level in another, and a fourth in another still! At best, they only measure how hard it is to decode sentences and how common the vocabulary words are – and they still manage to disagree with each other!

    High schoolers might, as a group, have a problem with reading comprehension. Then again, you, as an individual, might have a problem with reading comprehension. You’re making claims that this study never did. (Incidentally, “all right” is two words, not one.)

  100. To Kill a Mockingbird is my all time favorite book and I still pull it out to read from time to time. Of Mice and Men is pretty good too. Hunger Games is on my to-read list. I’ve read every Harry Potter book. Wow I guess I read at a 5th grade level.

  101. You know, I was a little too harsh. Leveling systems aren’t ENTIRELY meaningless. In the lower grades, and with people who are learning how to read still, they can be useful for picking books that are challenging but not frustrating. That’s their purpose, and no matter how contradictory they are they DO work well enough for that purpose.

    However, the higher the level and complexity, the less useful they become. And at any rate, if you’re using the reading level of chosen books – either by the reader or by their teachers – to assess the reading level of the students, you’re doing it wrong.

  102. Donna, The Hunger Games is a pretty good series (I thought so, anyway) but fair warning, it has a gratuitously convoluted love triangle. (Fun fact, incidentally: The plant Katniss is, in English, more commonly known as arrowhead. It’s an appropriate name for a huntress!)

    I prefer to read YA books for a number of reasons.Most importantly, they’re cheaper per page than Literature for Grown-ups, which really DOES matter, and when the quality tends to be comparable, well….

  103. Donna, I agree with all that — but still, there’s no reason it shouldn’t be possible for every developmentally/neurologically normal kid to read at something higher than a 5th grade level after 13 years of education (or sooner, or whatever.) I didn’t mean to say it’s all the fault of a deficiency in the schools, but it should still be possible. It’s still a real problem that some number as high as 25% can’t.

    But I also thank Uly for the clarification about what the study actually said. There is a HUGE difference between “choose to read at level X” and “can only read at level X.”

    But I wonder why you refer to the love triangle in THG as “gratuitously” convoluted. It seems fairly essential to plot and character motivation, actually.

    I thought The Hunger Games series was one of the best new things I’ve come across since I-can’t-remember-when. Harry Potter is a really good series — there’s a great storyline buried under all the awkward writing style and narrative clutter, not to mention just the sheer fun of the magical atmosphere. But the The Hunger Games is “clean” writing, reasonably tight story-telling, and a really compelling concept.

    I suspect the reason that a lot of us grownup types like the kid lit/YA stuff is that so much adult lit that takes itself at all seriously (i.e. isn’t pure pulp) takes itself entirely TOO seriously a lot of the time. Kid lit is just more fun.

  104. But I wonder why you refer to the love triangle in THG as “gratuitously” convoluted. It seems fairly essential to plot and character motivation, actually.

    I’m pretty much just over love triangles in YA altogether.

  105. Do they realize that many children who do not experience the physical attention and affection they need in earlier years often have a hard time feeling confident, being compassionate, making social connections, and in response reach out to others for that affection in the form of sex, even in middle school? Do they realize a child who is being molested may allow it for longer because at least they’re getting some damn attention, just as long as the person smiles and says “good boy, good girl”? Do they realize these kids that don’t ever HAVE best friends become very lonely later and life and have a harder time socially and in handling emotional problems, especially emotional loss, like of a friend? How about the fact they are more likely to stay in an abusive relationship, just to have SOMEONE. What the heck! The education system is doing us no good. Let’s make kids go to school on the computer, never leave the house without a parental figure, and never make contact with non-family until they’re eighteen. Problem solved, right? Oh wait, no. Just a lot of promiscuous, unstable, needy, socially inept adults who will always have the emotional, socially, and physical skills of a…. Well, not normal five year old. The five year olds who grew up normal will be fine, were always more fine…

  106. I’m sixteen, and even I know that!

  107. I would like to add something though before people think I hate the school system: I was being dramatic and saying to ban everything that could possibly be bad, not actually saying I hate schools. I love my school. Not everything and everyone in it, but I love my school.

    I have also read all the comments on here because I wasn’t ready to go to bed. Well, some people on here are kinda coming off crazy or as mind-numbingly ignorant to the point. So now I can’t have a voice, just trust authority? Now my parents are bad people for standing up to schools for me? Don’t go to school, EVERYONE has to homeschool? Put bans on everything or nothing? Support the schools more? All schools automatically care about the kids so don’t question them? These things are nonsense. My word of caution is to agree or disagree too quickly is the wrong thing – but to be ignorant just to be ignorant is worse. Naivete is one thing, ignorance another.

    Same goes to the school. The school is ignoring the problem by banning it instead of addressing it. If they honestly said “Hey, we’ve had a few complaints that these things are problems. We’re putting out a poll to find suitable solutions from the public, though final say is ours. Please feel free to feedback before and after disciplinary changes and we’ll do our best” – that would be naivete to the issue and then discovery and then action. Just banning it is ignoring what will become a hot mess in middle school and high school.

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