No Hugging Allowed at Matawan Aberdeen Middle School? [AUDIO]
Over the loud-speaker last week, hundreds of students at Matawan Aberdeen Middle School heard their principal announce they were in a “no hugging school.”
Some students came home confused and upset after hearing the announcement, resulting in concerns and questions from parents.
According to David Healy, Superintendent of Schools for the Matawan Aberdeen Regional School District, the brief announcement from Principal Tyler Blackmore was prompted by “the excessive, observed and reported, welcomed and unwelcomed hugging or physical contact between students.”
As a building principal, one has broad discretion in terms of maintaining order in his/her building and therefore based on the observed and reported excessive hugging/physical contact that, at times, may have been inappropriate and causing delays to class or the like, Mr. Blackmore felt it best for the good of the school and the orderly operation of his building to quell the behavior before it escalated into a problem particularly with among other things the heightened awareness and reporting of (HIB) harassment, intimidation and bullying.
Parents, Students Baffled By Announcement
Students of the middle school commented on the baffling announcement.
“I don’t really feel like it’s fair because you should be able to hug your friends,” said an eighth grader. He said even teachers were confused when the announcement was made.
His friend continued, “Hugs don’t kill anyone, don’t hurt anyone. It’s not affecting our school, so I think it should still be there.”
While parents said they understand some types of physical contact are too much for school grounds, hugging is not included.
“As long as it’s within reason – it’s a high-five, a handshake, a hug with no sexual connotation – I don’t see a problem with it,” said a concerned parent.
One parent said her daughter came home disappointed after hearing Mr. Blackmore’s warning. ”She said to me, ‘Ma, I can’t even hug my sister in the hallway. Are they going to yell at me? Am I going to get in trouble?’”
Several parents wondered why they were kept out of the loop on such a controversial topic, and why they had to hear the news from their children.
“I wonder what the Principal’s afraid of,” one parent said. “Did somebody do something they shouldn’t have done? Was there some inappropriate behavior by one of the teachers?”
Another parent exclaimed, “Children were taught to say yes to hugs, no to drugs, but not in Matawan Aberdeen Middle School!”
Superintendent Healy said despite the announcement, no specific policy was put in place against hugging. Also, no students would be disciplined for hugging in the halls or on school grounds.
Late last year, a 14-year-old middle school student was suspended at Southwest Middle School in Palm Bay, Florida as a result of the school’s no-hugging policy.