I read these horrible news stories about a ban on hugging in Australia and New Zealand schools, particularly Macleans College and Takapuna Normal Intermediate School. The United States has caught on with this so-called trend through this Huffington Post article, that even a Washington Post writer declared she hates hugs because it helps spread germs.
|Photo Credit: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au|
I feel it’s time for me and for us to begin conversations around hugging because I believe banning it is just out of bounds with reality. I may have graduated from school many years ago, but I love hugs. I crave hugs. My parents were not huggers but that didn’t stop me. I used to hear and feel them cringe every time I do this. But I did tell them, “One day you will miss my hugs.” I hug my close friends. I hug my former classmates every time we see each other to catch up on our lives and reminisce the school days. I hug my partner, his parents, and his Nana. I even hug their cat Stella, until she tries to wiggle herself out of it.
Except for those who are in the Free Hugs or Hug It Out campaign, I don’t usually hug strangers, even those introduced to me for the first time. A handshake, a wave of my hand, or a nod with “Hello” to acknowledge the person is enough. I do hug a few of my former work colleagues when I chanced upon them walking on the street, but only when they were receptive to it during the time I worked with them.
There are many benefits of hugging people. Aside from those mentioned in Psychology Today and Mind Body Green, personally whether I feel happy or going through challenges, hugging does make me feel better because it sends a message to the body that you are not alone in the world. In stressful situations to the point of feeling overwhelmed and wanting to cry, it makes me feel calm and relaxed. And also breathe mindfully.
Just as well that the students of a North Carolina school are protesting the ban through a Facebook page and encouraging students to hug each other. These kids are brave enough to fight for their rights for what they feel is a very good universal thing to do. I mean, if these students also instinctively know the benefits of hugging, shouldn’t we adults encourage them to do that? Shouldn’t we be the ones setting an example for them? Why do school officials think hugging is inappropriate? I mean, which is more inappropriate, sexual harassment or simply hugging someone? Would it be better to amend school policies to make more specific on what constitutes “immoral, indecent, lewd, disreputable or of an overly sexual nature” behavior?
As for the Takapuna school, the explanation was that some girls came in late for classes because they have to hug their friends before coming back to their respective classes. To be honest, this is a very stupid explanation. One of the student’s parents was right to say that school administrators should have addressed the issue of lateness instead of banning hugs altogether. Better to ask these students what they can do better for next time.
If this trend of banning hugs in schools will continue, I’m afraid we are sending a wrong message not only to these students but to everyone else. As long as the hands stay on the upper back, neck, or shoulders of a person when hugging, that’s okay, isn’t it? When the hands travel to different places of the body, that’s another matter already.