Four girls at a senior public school in Brampton, Ontario staged a “hug-in” a couple of days ago. This was in protest to the school’s “no hugging” policy, brought to light when one of the girls had gone to hug a girl-friend who was upset. What are we teaching our kids when they are told they are not allowed to hug?
DQ is in Junior Kindergarten. Being a regular volunteer in the classroom, I get a sneak peek at what is taught. There is a sign in the classroom that says – among other rules – “keep your hands to yourself”. I get that. They are trying to teach the kids about personal space. At this age, it’s an important lesson about boundaries.
But these girls were twelve and thirteen years old. Old enough to understand the difference between an affectionate hug and a contact that is more aggressive or physically painful. There needs to be some qualification to the “hands off” rule. Hugs are a standard method of greeting among youth (DQ hugs all her friends and I never discourage this). The fact that one of these girls was actually reprimanded for hugging a friend in an act of empathy is disconcerting. Would we rather our kids turned to stone, not care at all? Hugging is a basic human instinct when it comes to making an emotional connection. We’re not doing our children any favours by forbidding it. Nor are we showing them any respect for their ability to make independent decisions between wrong and right.
So, welcome to our Robot State.