Don’t get me wrong, I’m not encouraging inappropriate touching or any form of sexual activity amongst middle school students, at school or elsewhere, but I’m still appalled that students at Kilmer Middle School in metro DC Vienna, Virginia are prohibited from an occasional innocent touch. This is a great example of the totally asinine, heavy handed sledge hammers public schools often use to kill flies (so to speak).
“All touching -- not only fighting or inappropriate touching -- is against the rules at Kilmer Middle School in Vienna. Hand-holding, handshakes and high-fives? Banned. The rule has been conveyed to students this way: ‘NO PHYSICAL CONTACT!!!!!’”
“[School officials] explained that the rule is necessary to keep crowded hallways and lunchrooms safe and orderly, and ensures that all students are comfortable. But Hal [Beaulieu], 13, and his parents think the school's hands-off approach goes too far, and they are lobbying for a change.”
Good for them! Hal recently found himself in big trouble for putting his arm around his girlfriend.
“A school security officer spotted this and sent Hal to the school office, where he was cited for two infractions. He was warned that a third misstep could lead to in-school suspension or detention.”
“School officials said that the girl didn't complain and that they have no reason to believe the hug was unwelcome.”
"Usually an askance look from a teacher or a reminder to move along is enough to stop girls who are holding hands and giggling in a huddle or a boy who pats a buddy on the back."
Humans are often inclined to appropriately touch each other, and the majority, which apparently includes students referenced in the article, fully understand what kinds of touch are appropriate and what kinds are not. Many, many people are touch starved, which became evident during Cuddle Parties, which have proven wildly successful, surprising everyone, including their originators, Reid Mihalko and Marcia Baczynski.
What kind of message are our schools sending to students when they punish touching? Can’t be very good. At least young Hal has parents who understand and encourage hugs and appropriate touching and are willing to challenge this ridiculous rule by asking the Fairfax County School Board to review it.