School's Hugging Policy Confuses Students, Parents
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A New Jersey middle school principal announced a "no hug" policy to crack down on inappropriate contact. But what does the new rule actually mean?


(Image source: The New York Times ) BY MALLORY PERRYMAN ANCHOR LOGAN TITTLE When a radio station in New Jersey reported a local middle school had become a “no-hug” zone — the story swept media outlets across the country. “900 students at Matawan Aberdeen Middle School have been told that hugging can lead to detention.” (KTTV) “There will be no hugging it out at one New Jersey school.” (Fox News) “For some students in New Jersey, giving a hug could land them in detention.” (WOFL) “A middle school that’s telling students to stop showing the love.” (CNN) Word of the hug-ban came from students who said the principal made the declaration over the intercom. The principal later clarified that statement. WCBS has it. “... saying the school wants to make sure that there’s no inappropriate physical contact but quote ‘We certainly do not have a policy against hugging nor do we intend to or have we suspended students for hugging.” Kind of confusing — so a reporter for WCBS 880 sums up the school’s stance like this. “School board president Charles Kenny says students should let common sense be their guide. FLASH In other words, sometimes a hug can cross the line and school officials have the discretion to determine what’s inappropriate.” So no suspension for showing some hug love. Even so — a blogger for Babble thinks there was a better way for the school to handle the situation. “...instead of banning hugs after some ‘unsuitable’ interactions, why wouldn’t they just focus more on what is suitable?... how do you reconcile telling kids that, in most situations, hugging is wrong[?]” The superintendent blames the media for sensationalizing the policy. An opinion writer for New Jersey’s Star-Ledger says — school officials shouldn’t be surprised. “Some free advice for school principals, administrators and teachers: Before you … hand down an edict banning any kind of behavior on your campus – try to picture the headlines. ‘School bans …’ stories are wonderful fodder for the daily news cycle.” This isn’t the first time school hugs have made the headlines . Last year, a middle school in Florida suspended a student over a squeeze. That school — however — has a zero tolerance policy for personal displays of affection.