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No touching!

A hug reveals a Virginia middle school’s no-touch policy.

“And if you take my hand my son, all will be well when the day is done…”
Peter Yarrow

Below are excerpts from some news stories about a school in Virginia where there is an absolute “no touch” policy.

There was a great CNN clip on the subject. Some of the justification given is that some gangs have handshakes. And, that schools are overcrowded. And, that there is a lot of “diversity” in the schools of people from different cultures having a different sense of touching.

I think there is a lot to learn from this situation and the attitude of the Fairfax schools.

I think that when communities are overcrowded, and some people are afraid of people from other cultures touching wrong, you can create a lot of weird law-and-order rules.

What are better solutions? Stop overcrowding in schools; create “small schools“; have candid classes/experiences with people of diversity so they learn each others boundaries or invent new boundaries together; have parents involved in schools so that policies like this come to light sooner.

Some news coverage:

Canadian Press

No-touching policy at Virginia school forbids student hugs, high-fives
Canadian Press Wednesday, June 20, 2007

VIENNA, Va. (AP) – A show of affection almost landed a teenage boy in detention.

Hugging was 13-year-old Hal Beaulieu’s crime when he sat next to his girlfriend at lunch a few months ago and put his arm around her shoulder. He was let off with a warning, but the cost of a repeat offence could be detention.

A rule against physical contact at Kilmer Middle School, about 20 kilometres west of Washington, is so strict that students can be sent to the principal’s office for hugging,holding hands or even high-fiving.


Hindu Press

Zero tolerance for hugs at U.S. school

Washington: Kilmer Middle School in Vienna, Virginia is by no means in a remote corner of the country. Close to the CIA headquarters at Langley, it is just a short drive from Washington DC. But head teacher Deborah Hernandez was accused of being out of touch, literally and scholastically, after banning physical contact between her 1,100 pupils. Hugs, cuddles and handshakes are especially taboo.

Ms. Hernandez’s no-holds-allowed prohibition came to light after 13-year-old Hal Beaulieu slipped his arm round his girlfriend’s shoulder during a break. She did not object, but a sharp-eyed school security officer caught Hal in the act…

The ban included handshakes, hand-holding, high-fives and back-patting, she said. Strokes, squeezes and tickles were beyond the pale. Tactility could not be treated relatively, she suggested, or else “you get into shades of grey”…

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