3 HUGS, 2 children, 1 adult
If you have not had the opportunity to see the news today, this was one of the major headlines: http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/03/23/10826845-principals-decree-this-is-a-no-hugging-school. Yes, that’s right. A principal banned hugging in school due to what he felt were “incidents of unsuitable, physical interactions.” My heart broke for these kids and I have been obsessing over it all day. I knew I would write my post about it but it just didn’t feel like enough. I couldn’t sit by and watch this without voicing my concern. I am sure my email is one among thousands, but I have voiced my concern and I hope for the best.
I respectfully disagree with your decision to ban hugging in your school. I certainly do not understand the stresses of being a middle school principal, but I understand the fundamental goodness of hugging. I understand how important it is for growth, specifically emotional growth. You have taken away a vital need of human touch during a time when these children are maturing and trying to understand their emerging sexuality. I do not condone inappropriate touching but the only thing you are teaching by banning hugging is that any physical contact should be construed as sexual. That is not the direction they should be steered in at this tender moment of their lives.
On your website you claim that your school ‘includes activities that rigorously prepare students for academic success coupled with a focus on social and emotional growth.’ Not only does this policy not focus on their social or emotional growth, it deters it. Virgina Satir, who was often referred to as the mother of family therapy, determined that “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.” Quoted from http://www.care2.com/greenliving/the-benefits-of-hugging.html#ixzz1pya3WiSM
I have spent the last year hugging everyone that I encountered and blogged about it. I have witnessed first hand the beauty behind such a simple gesture. In the beginning I had concerns about how it would potentially be perceived especially to members of the opposite sex. I had been hardened by a world that focuses more on the potential for negative than the obvious positivity that is all around us. I am begging you with tears in my eyes do not take this away from them. Reassure them that touch is ok. Enforce that there are guidelines. But above all, trust in your students. They will always make mistakes, but the more you trust them the more they will heed your word.
I appreciate your time,
Please accept this blog as my virtual hug to you.