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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Harmless hugs

A middle school in Oak Park, Ill., has banned hugging among students.

Principal Victoria Sharts’ reasoning: “Hugging is really more appropriate in airports or for family reunions than passing and seeing each other ... in the halls.”


A hug is the perfect expression of close friendship or budding love among any two people who choose to share one – warmer than a handshake but less passionate than a kiss. And completely harmless. (And yes, I realize, as Ms. Sharts points out, that there may be instances in which a hug is unwanted by the recipient. But schools long ago learned how to deal with unwanted behavior without punishing the entire student body. I mean should we ban all talking because some students make unwanted comments?)

I’m guessing this is a case where one or two parents complained and the school overreacted, probably because – as so often is the case these days -- the administrators feared a lawsuit. A more appropriate response would have been to deal with any offending students and let the rest of the school’s young people express their emotions freely.



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