Maryland school district considering a ban on teacher-student hugging

Mar 20, 2013 by

LEONARDTOWN, Md. – Officials at St. Mary’s County schools have developed a depressing solution for students who have complained about their overly affectionate teachers: they’ve banned hugs.

The proposed new rule for elementary schools in the district prohibits any adult from hugging a student unless they’re the child’s parent, the Washington Examiner reports.

“The hugging rule was suggested by parents whose children had been made uncomfortable by an unwanted hug from an adult at school or on the playground,” said Trish Post, president of the St. Mary’s County Council of PTAs and a member of the committee that developed the rules, the news site reports.

The no-hug rule in among several changes school officials developed with the help of parents and teachers to improve school safety. Other changes include a required photo of all visitors, and a policy prohibiting siblings from visiting students at school, according to the Examiner.

School board member Cathy Allen told the news site she believes the no-hug policy is overly restrictive, pointing out that grandparents, aunts and uncles wouldn’t be allowed to embrace students on school grounds.

“I’m sad that we as a society have come to a place where fear is the first thing that comes to mind,” Allen said, according to the Examiner. “We’ve got to find a way to strike a balance between trust and suspicion, between care and concern.”

Unfortunately, there’s good reason for school officials and parents to be suspicious and concerned. EAGnews has reported dozens of cases where teachers and other school employees have sexually abused students in recent months and years, and it often starts out with unwanted, seemingly innocent physical contact.

EAGnews is publishing a four-part series next week exploring the issue of educator sexual misconduct against students – a problem that impacts an estimated 4 million students in schools across the country.

While we’re not convinced that prohibiting hugs on school property is the best solution for solving the problem, it certainly isn’t a bad idea, at least for school employees.

The Examiner reports that the no-hugs policy hasn’t been particularly popular, and may be modified before the rule becomes official district policy.

But we suspect that if parents knew the extent of educator sexual misconduct in schools, they’d prefer schools to error on the side of caution, rather than provide any opportunity for a pedophile to target and groom their children.

via Maryland school district considering a ban on teacher-student hugging – :: Education Research, Reporting, Analysis and Commentary.

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