Everyday Ethics

Free Hugs.jpg

Yep, that’s right, now affection is illegal. The New York Times today reported on the new fad for hugging among teens in an article entitled For Teenagers, Hello Means ‘How About a Hug?
Kids these days are embracing all over the place. Boys with boys, girls with girls, hetero-hugs, menage-a-hugs. It’s all good with teens. Who knew the text-message and Facebook generation was capable of expressing so much physical affection? (Or perhaps it’s exactly because they spend so much time interacting with techno-toys that good old-fashioned physical contact with their peers is so desirable?)
Apparently, it’s not only a hot new trend, it’s also a somewhat controversial one. According to the article, several schools have banned hugging in the hallways, perhaps fearing sexual harassment, peer pressure, encouraging too relaxed of an academic atmosphere, disco dermatitis, rabies, and/or a virulent outbreak of cooties.
I get that. But is it ethical for schools to impose such bans?

Uniforms, behavioral codes, locker searches… all these things made my hackles rise when I was in high school. (Perhaps this is why I wore combat boots and stomped around in a funk so much.) I hated it that my school imposed so many restrictions on my rights when I was a teen, and I still carry a resentment over a lot of that stuff. I tend to think that, on the whole, if school officials would allow students a little responsibility, they’d show they were up to it.

But I also understand that peer pressure can make kids feel they have to do things (like hug) they’d rather not. Heck, even now I have friends who are not ‘huggy’ and feel apologetic about it, sometimes squirming if they have to endure an embrace when that’s just not their thing. Kids might understandably have a much harder time just saying “No thanks, hugging isn’t my bag” than an adult would. Removing the option–and thus, the dilemma–by mandating a ‘no-hug’ policy on school grounds could save some teens uncomfortable moments.
What do you think? Should hugging hit the high road in high school?

Photo by Ken Wooldridge
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