GEELONG, Australia – St. Patrick’s Primary School principal John Grant recently decided to ban hugs at the school because “in this current day and age we … have to be cautious.”
Grant told the Geelong Advertiser that “nothing in particular” prompted his decision to instruct students not to hug each other or their teachers, but plans to send a letter home with students today regarding the policy change nonetheless.
Grant told the news site “in this current day and age we are really conscious about protecting kids and teaching them from a young age that you have to be cautious.”
Grant said he spoke with teachers about the decision, and they brainstormed with students to come up with ways kids could engage each other with minimal touching.
“There’s a range of methods including a high five or a particular knuckle handshake where they clunk knuckles as a simple way of saying ‘well done,’” Grant told the Advertiser. “There are also verbal affirmations and acknowledgements.”
The Herald Sun reports that the principal blames the no hugs policy on students who apparently touch too much.
“We have a lot of kids who walk up and hug each other and we’re trying to encourage all of us to respect personal space,” he said. “It really comes back to not everyone is comfortable in being hugged.”
Robyn Tigani told 3AW Mornings that the issue stems from older students who hugged their youngest classmates at the beginning of the school year because “they’re little and cute.”
Some of the students, who were as young as four years old, didn’t like the attention, she said.
MORE NEWS: How to prepare for face-to-face classes
“They’re not dollies,” Tigani said, “they’re people.”
Parents, of course, think the new policy is preposterous.
“I’ve done some studies in psychology and touch is actually one of the basic human needs, touch and hugging,” an unidentified father told the Advertiser. “A Catholic school in Melbourne tore out pages of text books and now another Catholic school is banning hugging.
“At first glance it does appear … like a bit of a nanny state,” he continued. “I know the school banned cartwheels a couple of years ago but that’s because there were a few injuries around the schoolyard. So I’m sure there was a reason.”
Grant told Daily Mail Australia the school is not imposing an outright ban on hugs, but is simply encouraging students and staff to refrain from unnecessary physical contact.
“It’s not as if they’d be punished if they were hugging each other in the yard,” he said, according to the Herald Sun. “They’ll be simply asked to respect each other’s personal space.”
Numerous folks who sounded off about the policy change online obviously think it’s unnecessary and overbearing.
“Who are these people, how do they become school administrators and who or what gives them the right to try out their social engineering experiments on our kids?” Pete posted to the Herald Sun comments.
“But teaching kids to write sex ads is ok,” David added, “the Labor government must go.”
“The principal doesn’t get hugged enough and now the kids are paying for it,” commenter Spandex wrote.
“If a kid doesn’t like something isn’t it part of learning and developing to be able to tell other kids not to hug them?” Drew questioned.
“The sick social engineers are at it again,” Anthony wrote. “They are the ones that should be banned!”