17 November 2010
Australian Kids Banned From Hugging At School...
The beauty of blogging, and perhaps its danger as well, is that I do not have to be fair and balanced. I can, if I so desire, spout off on any old thing I want and argue my point of view. Well, almost. As a teacher, I am told in no uncertain terms that I am a teacher 24/7 and this means that anything I do or say outside of school will also be counted against me, either positively or negatively.
Such is the teacher's lot.
Now, on with the show!
Students at William Duncan State School in Nerang (on the Gold Coast) have returned to Term 4 to find that the school has adopted a "no hugging" policy. Nope, this is not some anti-green movement to stop kids from hugging trees in these times of climate change. It is a policy to stop the students from hugging each other.
The policy does not start with hugging. The policy, in essence, outlaws all touching; male-male, female-female, and male-female. Any student caught in breach of the policy will find themselves on detention.
This begs the obvious question, "Why?"
Well, it seems that the school in conjunction with the Parents & Citizens Council has decided that there is a need for this. I am all into protecting out children from bullying, including cyber-bullying. I am also in favour of adopting a policy that prevents students from touching each other in violent ways; they need to keep their hands and feet to themselves. Yet, the William Duncan policy is for a primary school. It appears that the need to ban hugging is to protect the innocence of the students and to not allow them to be sexualised at too young an age.
I have to admit, if that is the reason and rationale to this policy, then I am a little confused. Since when has hugging been solely a sexual act? And, doesn't the policy run the risk of alerting kids to the idea and concept of sexualisation by teaching them that there is something inherently wrong about hugging in that it is in some way dirty or wrong and needs to be avoided?
The policy seems at odds with how we conduct ourselves in the real world. People hug all the time. Let's face it, I was watching the tennis the other night on the idiot box and at the conclusion of the game the players hugged at the net. Nothing wrong with that is there? Or even more recently, I was watching the English Premier League (EPL), also on the idiot box, and when a goal was scored, the goal scorer was mobbed and hugged by his team mates. Nothing wrong with that is there?
Perhaps, there needs to be a little bit of a rethink. Perhaps the school needs to think about when and where hugging is appropriate and teach their students the difference. If two students are involved in a lingering embrace that includes some passionate kissing (not that this is likely to happen in primary school) then that becomes a teaching moment for inappropriate hugging (and additional activity).
If the overall idea is to teach our children responsible behaviours and how to behave responsibly, then we as teachers, parents, and adults need to be responsible in how we go about teaching those behaviours. Banning hugging in a universal and uniform manner like it has seemingly been done here, is not about teaching responsible behaviours and behaving responsibly, it is about avoiding teaching what is appropriate touching and when it is appropriate to touch another.
To successfully teach our children, and students, the difference between right and wrong we have to teach them what is right and wrong, and not just ban anything and everything we can think of.
Hopefully, no one is offended by the hugging kittens.