An Illinois couple this week resolved their dispute with officials at Miscoutah Middle School over a decision to give their 13-year-old daughter two detentions for hugging freinds good-bye, which administrators said violated a policy banning public displays of affection. The parents—Melissa and Dean Coulter—said they were satisified with a district promise to at least review the policy.
What the commentators said
The school district superintendent and the Coulters “made up,” said the Belleville, Ill., News-Democrat in an editorial, “but did they hug afterward?” More importantly, will school administrators and parents finish this debate over the way they police children, and whether hugs “merit” punishment?
The war on hugs isn't isolated to one school, said A.J. Hernandez in a Denver Post blog. The principal at Evergreen Middle School in Colorado just sent a letter home with students adding "inappropriate or prolonged hugging" to its list of "no-nos." But how do kids know when they've crossed the line—is there a "three-second limit, like in basketball?"
Zero tolerance in these cases is a bit extreme, said Steven Gray in Time.com, but these “no-contact measures” help with “practical considerations,” such as controlling hallway traffic. And administrators say they need rules to back them up if they are to discourage inappropriate behavior on campus.
That’s no reason to declare middle schools “no-hug zones,” said Victoria Tang in the University of California-Berkeley’s Daily Californian. “Hugging is a good thing,” remember? If school officials can’t tell the difference between a “casual arm-around-the-shoulder goodbye squeeze” and truly inappropriate touching, they need to write themselves a new set of rules.