For Teenagers, Hello Means ‘How About a Hug?’
May 28, 2009 4:37 PM   Subscribe

For this generation of teens hugging [video | 02:35] seems to be all the rage at high schools around the U.S. “A measure of how rapidly the ritual is spreading is that some students complain of peer pressure to hug to fit in.” And in some schools hugging has banned. “Touching and physical contact is very dangerous territory,” said Noreen Hajinlian, the principal at a junior high school in Hillsdale, N.J., where hugging has been banned for two years.
posted by ericb (115 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
*has been banned*
posted by ericb at 4:39 PM on May 28, 2009


“Touching and physical contact is very dangerous territory,” said Noreen Hajinlian, the principal at a junior high school in Hillsdale, N.J., where hugging has been banned for two years.

When I was growing up, my parents were very distant, and physical intimacy wasn't really part of the program. Then during my freshman year I feel in with a bad crowd of older kids, for whom hugging when saying hello and goodbye was part of the daily routine. The physical and emotional intimacy that ran rampant through that group was addictive, and made me the caring, feeling, open person that I am today. It also helped me gain confidence, and through that confidence I learned to assert myself and take charge of my own life.

So, yeah, very dangerous territory from the perspective of a high school administrator.
posted by davejay at 4:41 PM on May 28, 2009 [42 favorites]


“Touching and physical contact is very dangerous territory,” said Noreen Hajinlian, the principal at a junior high school in Hillsdale, N.J., where hugging has been banned for two years.

ZOMG COOTIES!
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 4:41 PM on May 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


“It was needless hugging — they are in the hallways before they go to class. It wasn’t a greeting. It was happening all day.”

Gotta admire the ability of public school administration to see rampant hugging as something shitty.
posted by EatTheWeak at 4:41 PM on May 28, 2009 [34 favorites]


Drugs not hugs.
posted by porn in the woods at 4:42 PM on May 28, 2009 [15 favorites]


“Touching and physical contact is very dangerous territory,” said Noreen Hajinlian, the principal at a junior high school in Hillsdale, N.J., where hugging has been banned for two years.

Sounds like someone could use a hug.
posted by phatkitten at 4:42 PM on May 28, 2009 [21 favorites]


The Lamest Teen Moral Panic Ever
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 4:44 PM on May 28, 2009 [7 favorites]


where hugging has been banned for two years.

WTF Dystopia?
posted by Avenger at 4:46 PM on May 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


Girls embracing girls, girls embracing boys, boys embracing each other...

No responsible school administrator would ignore such a vector for transmitting Teh Gay
posted by Joe Beese at 4:46 PM on May 28, 2009 [12 favorites]


> “Touching and physical contact is very dangerous territory,” said Noreen Hajinlian, the principal at a junior high school in Hillsdale, N.J., where hugging has been banned for two years.

Sounds like someone could use a hug.


This is, indeed, the Lamest Teen Moral Panic Ever, but I have a feeling these principals and administrators are less worried about hugging leading to orgies in the hallways than they are about sexual harrassment (or assault) charges being brought up by some uptight parent.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:48 PM on May 28, 2009


I observed this rampant hugging among my stepson's teenage crowd ten years ago and it absolutely amazed me. When I was that age, if you hugged a girl, you may as well go on and go to bed with her. And as for hugging boys... I'm inspired by davejay's comment above to think that's it's probably a good thing.
posted by Faze at 4:48 PM on May 28, 2009


I never really hugged anybody until i started going to raves in the late 90s. Then it was the standard greeting for all my friends.

At first it was like, the full two arm bear hug.. sometimes with optional ass-grabbing.

As we've gotten older, most of us have kind of gone to a one arm hug. Really, at that point, you might as well do the standard handshake, cause the one arm hug is really awkward. It's like, I like you, but not THAT much.
posted by empath at 4:50 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hah... someone needs to tell their office staff about the hugging ban...
posted by Jahaza at 4:50 PM on May 28, 2009 [17 favorites]


I went to Franz Kafka High School where hugging was banned but at the end of the day I'd always end up in detention for "Not showing enough physical attention," and when I'd show up to detention they'd say they had no record of me even being enrolled but I could stay in the gym for the night. When I told them I could just go home they insisted I was just very confused and would give me a hug. Puberty sucked.
posted by geoff. at 4:50 PM on May 28, 2009 [58 favorites]


Are the guys slapping each other on the back while hugging? That's the important question! If it's happening, then it says, "I'm hugging you, but I'm hitting you." And that's Not Gay.

But seriously, what's wrong with hugging? It's not like they're groping each other, it's a damned hug!
posted by explosion at 4:50 PM on May 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


I started watching the video, then stopped, because I asked myself if I was really going to watch a news segment about people hugging.

Honestly this is so far off of the who-gives-a-shit-meter that I don't even know what to say.
posted by kiltedtaco at 4:50 PM on May 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


Have any of these people been to a day care or nursery school lately? Those kids are all over each other AND IT MUST BE STOPPED.
posted by you just lost the game at 4:52 PM on May 28, 2009


Girls embracing girls, girls embracing boys, boys embracing each other...

... dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 4:52 PM on May 28, 2009 [16 favorites]


Kids are hugging instead of sexing these days? That's good news for us parents!

Bring on the hug parties!
posted by Never teh Bride at 4:53 PM on May 28, 2009


what's wrong with hugging? It's not like they're groping each other,

Ur doin it wrong
posted by dersins at 4:53 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


In my day, if we wanted to freak out our parents, we had to at least fuck or take drugs. These punks don't realize how easy they have it.

Now all of you get off my lawn.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:55 PM on May 28, 2009 [14 favorites]


Yay hugs!
posted by netbros at 4:55 PM on May 28, 2009


Now I'm envisioning a Jack Chick comic with the Care Bears secretly converting kids to teh ghey!
posted by yeloson at 4:56 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's like the new popped collar! But much more boring.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:57 PM on May 28, 2009


I blame Twitter.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:57 PM on May 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


If hugging is outlawed then only outlaws will have hugs... and puppies... to hug.
posted by PenDevil at 4:59 PM on May 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


Incidentally, I know how to solve this. My wife went to public school with a kid named Doug. Little Doug was a really friendly kid and liked to hug everyone - boys, girls, teachers, you name it. One day the teacher called him "Huggy Dougie" in front of the rest of the class.

My wife says he didn't hug anyone in public again until he was in university.*

* disclaimer: may not work on kids whose names do not rhyme with "hug"
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:59 PM on May 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


I like to do at least a little bit of a humping action when I hug, and maybe a leg wraparound. Also, rainbow hugging parties.
posted by jimmythefish at 5:01 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not okay to hug teachers either.
posted by gman at 5:05 PM on May 28, 2009


"Girls embracing girls, girls embracing boys, boys embracing each other..."

Wasn't that a line from Ghostbusters?
posted by krinklyfig at 5:07 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


* disclaimer: may not work on kids whose names do not rhyme with "hug"

Worth keeping in mind for Chuck and Horatio though.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 5:08 PM on May 28, 2009 [15 favorites]


No responsible school administrator would ignore such a vector for transmitting Teh Gay

Group showers for boys: still OK!
posted by Zed at 5:08 PM on May 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


I like hugging, but I don't initiate it that often, because it used to make me feel awkward, and I'm always worried I'm gonna make someone else feel awkward. I realize that this is totally dumb, but I still have a lot of moments where I first bump into someone I know, and neither person moves to hug, and we just stand there weirdly for a second. I guess I should just be more proactive about it.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 5:10 PM on May 28, 2009


I'm no apologist for high school administrators, but moves like this are usually descended from a reaction (or overreaction) to a lawsuit, somewhere. The lawsuit can be baseless and overblown, but that doesn't matter; nobody wants to get sued or have news cameras suddenly shoved in their face. Hence the endless "zero tolerance" policies.

And once one district does it, the others pick it up. Monkey see, monkey write school policy.

If we could get the legions of hoverparents to stop speed dialing their pet lawyers at the first sign of something happening to their precious! little! babies! this sort of stuff might move back in the semi-reasonable direction.
posted by adipocere at 5:11 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Philippe would approve.
posted by entropicamericana at 5:12 PM on May 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


peer pressure to hug to fit in

So they're all ravers now?
posted by flaterik at 5:14 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


* disclaimer: may not work on kids whose names do not rhyme with "hug".


My friend Mowjob...welll...she didn't...uh...
posted by jimmythefish at 5:14 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know, in the '80s, all we got was hair metal, cocaine and AIDS, sometimes all in the same night. It was fun, but this looks better.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:15 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow, did no one experience this about 15 years ago? From the comments in the thread, I guess not.

Trust me, when hugging gets to be the thing "everyone" does, the fake intimacy of the latest chatterbox coming over to talk who just has to put their arms around you in order to exchange a few words makes you want to wear protection. Like, maybe a hazmat suit.

OTOH, way to take the Footloose approach, principal.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:16 PM on May 28, 2009


If hugging is outlawed then only outlaws will have hugs... and puppies... to hug.

About a month ago, my nine-year-old son declared that it was International Hug A Puppy Day. As we had previously noted how "Truck Month" always seemed like it went on for half the year, we thusly determined that every day was thenceforth International Hug A Puppy Day.

The puppy seems pretty pleased with this turn of events, and I'd like fellow huggers to get the word out about IHAPD. TIA!
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:17 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Uh, that was supposed to follow the "peer pressure" quote. I am not wholly misanthropic.

Just mostly.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:18 PM on May 28, 2009


One day the teacher called him "Huggy Dougie" in front of the rest of the class.
My wife says he didn't hug anyone in public again until he was in university.


That is such a sad story I don't even know what to say, other than poor Doug. Incidentally, the number of people even in this thread who are a bit uncomfortable with hugging (ie simple friendly non-sexual physical contact) makes it pretty clear that kids doing this == well-adjusted kids that we should all try to emulate.
posted by davejay at 5:21 PM on May 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Streets like a jungle
So call the police
Following the herd
Down to Hillsdale- on holiday
Love in the aughties
Is paranoid
In Jr. High Halls
Take your chances - looking for

Girls who hug boys
Who like boys to hug girls
Who hug boys like they're girls
Who hug girls like they're boys
Always should be someone you really loooooooovvvvvveeeeee
posted by vespabelle at 5:21 PM on May 28, 2009 [15 favorites]


So they ban hugging and (big surprise!) kids start going gaga for clandestine hugging.

Now if they'd just ban 'please', 'thank you' and cleaning your room, we'd really be getting somewhere.
posted by rokusan at 5:23 PM on May 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


Touching and physical contact is very dangerous territory,” said Noreen Hajinlian, the principal at a junior high school in Hillsdale, N.J., where hugging has been banned for two years.

Wow... a hugging ban from a principal whose name could be that of an evil wizard in a fantasy novel* is just too much for my poor brain to handle. It's been a long time since I've literally stared at the computer screen slackjawed.


* I can say that because my name is Kári Tulinius, which is pronounced roughly, with a rolled 'r,' COWri TOOlihNEEuhss... just sayin'
posted by Kattullus at 5:23 PM on May 28, 2009


Incidentally, I know how to solve this. My wife went to public school with a kid named Doug. Little Doug was a really friendly kid and liked to hug everyone - boys, girls, teachers, you name it. One day the teacher called him "Huggy Dougie" in front of the rest of the class.

Dovie, my sweet and affectionate high school crush, sometimes got called "Lovey Dovie" by her classmates. She didn't stop hugging. In fact, last time I saw her, she introduced herself to someone by saying, "My name's Dovie; you know, like 'Lovey Dovie'."

So, word of warning, this strategy might not work on everyone.
posted by CrunchyFrog at 5:26 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


They hug too much. That's the problem with young people these days.

The real problem is that now that hugging is banned and "dangerous," it'll be cool and rebellious for kids to do it. Soon, they'll move on to harder contact, like snuggling and blowing kisses across the room. We need frank, honest communication with kids on why hugs are the first step on a path towards becoming a degenerate. And parents need to start taking responsiblity, too. Namely, they need to STOP hugging their kids. I know they have work and some parents like to use the computer or watch the television, but they need to put more effort into their love than just taking the easy way out by hugging. They should instead focus on doing stuff like searching their kids room for hug paraphernalia and searching the history of the computer for graphic depictions of hugging. Your kids may complain now, but when they grow up, they'll thank you. Trust me, a slow nod of approval with a slight smile is just as good for a child as a hug, and will keep them from forming any devious hangups in their future.

The media is also to blame as well. Have you seen how often Spongebob and Patrick hug, often for no discernible reason? I hate to be so negative, but that show is really sending the next generation to hell in a handbasket.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:26 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


The real problem is that now that hugging is banned and "dangerous," it'll be cool and rebellious for kids to do it. Soon, they'll move on to harder contact, like snuggling and blowing kisses across the room.

The gateway theory applies to hugs.
posted by gman at 5:31 PM on May 28, 2009


In ninth grade I thought it'd be okay to give someone a one-armed guy hug. I thought I could deal with it.
By the time I was 17 years old I needed butterfly kisses just to get out of bed in the morning.
I've been clean for about four years now, but the old urge is still there. Thank god I have meth to help get me through it.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 5:34 PM on May 28, 2009 [15 favorites]


Related: anthropologist Edward T. Hall, 1966: Proxemics.
"Intimate distance for embracing, touching or whispering:
Close phase - less than 6 inches (15 cm)
Far phase - 6 to 18 inches (15 - 45 cm)"
posted by ericb at 5:35 PM on May 28, 2009


I blame Twitter.

From the first-link (New York Times Style yep...they're still at it! article)
"'Maybe it’s because all these kids do is text and go on Facebook so they don’t even have human contact anymore,' said Dona Eichner, the mother of freshman and junior girls at the high school in Montvale."
posted by ericb at 5:45 PM on May 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


I have a feeling these principals and administrators are less worried about hugging leading to orgies in the hallways than they are about sexual harrassment (or assault) charges being brought up by some uptight parent.

Bingo. Every year, we teachers get lectured on how we shouldn't touch students in any circumstance ever and that if we shake a kids' hand and the school gets sued for it they won't have our backs because damn it we were warned. Also, we get told that physical contact between students is just equally as bad for exactly the same reason and if we see kids touching and don't stop them and the school gets sued for it they're going to throw us to rabid hyenas.

The rabid hyenas, apparently, are allowed to touch us all they want with their razor sharp, rabies-foam covered teeth.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:45 PM on May 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


OR.. and hear me out here..

We could teach children that do not want hugs how to stick up for themselves and say IDONOTWANTURHUGSKTHXBYE.
posted by Malice at 5:46 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Didn't anyone tell this principal that everyone needs a hug?
posted by grouse at 5:47 PM on May 28, 2009


Not okay to hug teachers either.

But, that's Australia!
posted by ericb at 5:48 PM on May 28, 2009


John Halcyon Styn, please pick up the white courtesy phone.
posted by mattdidthat at 5:48 PM on May 28, 2009


Mrs. Eichner, the mother of freshman and junior girls: methinks you would benefit having a chat with Sarah and Bristol Palin.
posted by ericb at 5:49 PM on May 28, 2009


These people are late to the party. We did this in the nineties!
posted by P.o.B. at 5:51 PM on May 28, 2009


Girls embracing girls, girls embracing boys, boys embracing each other...

Boys becoming men, men becoming wolves.
posted by The Deej at 5:54 PM on May 28, 2009 [8 favorites]


These people are late to the party. We did this in the nineties!

86/87 over here. Second summer of love and all that. I guess different generations discover MDMA at different times?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:56 PM on May 28, 2009


"your video will begin in 16 seconds"

*click* Not that interested.
posted by newfers at 6:00 PM on May 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


When I went to an all girls' high school in the late 80's it was all hugs, all the time. If you went to the bathroom during lunch you got hugs when you came back. I was hoping the hugging would lead to pillow fights, but alas, hugging was it.
posted by Biblio at 6:06 PM on May 28, 2009


OK, I guess I gotta be the one. :-(

Some kids are aggressive dicks. And many, many high school kids are quite vulnerable.

It doesn't take a huge stretch of the imagination to see aggressive physical contact in the guise of "hugging" being used to intimidate and dominate, particularly when used screwed up, angry upperclassmen against freshman boys/girls. "I was just hugging her!"

So yeah, it's mostly bullshit lawsuit fodder, but not completely.

I'm not saying I agree with a hugging ban - it's ridiculous on its face, right? But it's not *necessarily* coming from a controlling or crazy place - it's possible to construe something like this, sight unseen, as motivated by healthy concern. I'm just sayin'.
posted by facetious at 6:07 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


If only one could keep them in airtight containers.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:10 PM on May 28, 2009


Here I always thought our school's ban on Tag was out of control. I had it lucky, to be allowed hugs.

Now, GETTING those hugs was a trickier subject.
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:15 PM on May 28, 2009


Embarrassing personal story time!

When I was in the 8th grade I started a "Hug Club." My parents and family were always very affectionate and I became very affectionate with my friends and teachers at school after reading some book by Leo Buscaglia. I got most of my classes to join my club. I printed up membership cards, typed them, and even laminated them on the funeral home machine. When I'd get to school in the morning, I'd go around giving out my hugs to everyone and I couldn't go home in the afternoon until I'd hugged everyone on my list. Yes, I made lists.

Still to this day, I have no idea why I did this. Eventually, the hugging got to be distracting to my teachers and I had to have a meeting with the principal and my "Hug Club" was unceremoniously disbanded. I never realized that it meant anything to anyone but me until my senior year, when everyone signed my yearbook, "Thanks for all of the hugs."

These days, as someone who comforts the grieved, I do a lot of hugging. I'm not as much of a hugger as I was when I was a kid, but I think I have a pretty good detection system to see who wants to be hugged and who wants to be far from embraces. I respect privacy, but I hug those who need them.

This past week, I was at the service of a young girl who died at 14 after getting hit by a car. Those are the hardest ones to deal with. Her brother was having a particularly hard time with it, and when he came in to view her, he immediately began sobbing. He was probably about 16 or 17 and his father stood there watching him weep. It seemed as if he had no idea how to comfort him. After a minute or so, the kid headed towards the front door, and as he walked past me, I grabbed his wrist. He stopped and looked right at me. There was a minute where we kind of sized each other up, and seeing no threat in his eyes, I threw my arms around him and squeezed. Then the tears really came. He sobbed and sobbed with his head on my shoulder until he was able to compose himself. Then, he did that big man-slap thing on my back and went back outside. I looked over at my uncle, and he just nodded at me. No shame in hugs.
posted by ColdChef at 6:20 PM on May 28, 2009 [167 favorites]


Growing up in Miami, we all hugged all of the time. We all hug now all of the time. Every hugs everyone else regardless of gender, age, or whatever.

What kind of screwed up, repressed world do these people live in, that hugging is some kind of note worthy event?
posted by oddman at 6:22 PM on May 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


It just goes to confirm that school principals don't have enough to fucking do.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:25 PM on May 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


I actually like hugs because the mean something when given. The complete lack of sincerity to hugging these days is just douchey.
posted by tarvuz at 6:25 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


My first boyfriend disarmed my constant low-level awkward nervousness and got me into the back-seat of my mom's car by saying I was "touch deprived".

He was so right.
posted by The Whelk at 6:33 PM on May 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


Answer: $2 deluxe hugs.
posted by ooga_booga at 6:35 PM on May 28, 2009


Also, um, hugging? Drama club hugged ALL THE FUCKING TIME. It was part of the charter or something. Robotics? hugs and ass slaps. Now as an adult? I get to hug strapping guys, cute girls, my own brother, and give big-ass bear hugs to fans and well wishers. Hugs! For everyone! They need it!
posted by The Whelk at 6:39 PM on May 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


It just goes to confirm that school principals don't have enough to fucking do.

Or that they don't do enough fucking.

stupid self-imposed mental images...
posted by Navelgazer at 6:39 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, yeah, I was doing this in the 90's, but I was part of the theatre group, and we all know (maybe) what that's like.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:40 PM on May 28, 2009


Wow that Today show host Matt-whatever got really old.
posted by Zambrano at 6:47 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I was in high-school, we boys grabbed each other's asses, a lot.
Wonder what principal Nohugs would have made of us?
posted by signal at 6:56 PM on May 28, 2009


I think some people need a few more hugs in their lives.

brb, hugging a blanket and a stuffed animal.
posted by sperose at 6:58 PM on May 28, 2009


They did this a lot at my school, but nobody hugged me because I was an outcast. Somehow, their warm and fuzzy huggyness made it all that much worse.
posted by Afroblanco at 6:58 PM on May 28, 2009


I am not comfortable being touched unless the person is a very close friend.

It makes it worse that I live in the southern US, where hugging is some kind of sport. Everyone hugs, all the time. Now, I could tolerate it if they were people I liked, even if they weren't close friends. But people I loathe are always trying to hug me, and it makes me feel like my skin is about to crawl off my body. I have told them all this, but sometimes they 'forget'. I scream and leap away and they remember not to hug me for a while.

The day they saw me leap across the room to hug a friend who'd unexpectedly dropped by I got a lot of sulky comments about how niiiiice it was that I didn't mind hugging some people. Hugging is serious business.

The nasty-nice hugs from people that do it to annoy are what no-hugging policies are intended to combat. It is ridiculous, I agree, and yet I remember when I was younger being told that physical harrassment was just because someone 'liked' me and I should just get over it. I don't know if anti-hug policies are that bad, in contrast, even though that policy makes me think of those poor little monkeys in that experiment about whether nourishment is more important than touch.
posted by winna at 7:03 PM on May 28, 2009


Next stop: Heroin.
posted by futureisunwritten at 7:20 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


As I said when I saw this story on the freakin' NBC Nightly News tonight, after it was promoted at nearly every commercial break as the big moral panic:

"This is why I don't watch the news -- the discussion of whether hugging should be banned is was treated as a more debatable question than whether or not torture is torture. Weird."

The whole thing would be silly if I didn't have a family history of high blood pressure to worry about.

(though I was seriously amused by the part where they talk about how rappers hugging each other made it okay for dudes to do it...of course, there is some sort of chest/fist bumping also involved in the exchange...which to some probably just means their colored terrorists with a case of teh gay.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:33 PM on May 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


The nasty-nice hugs from people that do it to annoy are what no-hugging policies are intended to combat. It is ridiculous, I agree, and yet I remember when I was younger being told that physical harrassment was just because someone 'liked' me and I should just get over it. I don't know if anti-hug policies are that bad, in contrast, even though that policy makes me think of those poor little monkeys in that experiment about whether nourishment is more important than touch.

I think part of the problem with modern school policies is that they can't (or rather, don't) deal with anything in between. No-hugging-policies, strip-searches for advil and the like come from the "zero-tolerance" mindset, which might as well be called "zero-rational-discretion."

There's a good argument to be made that Speed Limits should be abolished as they just create hassles for drivers who, in general, know what speed they can safely drive at in any given moment, and don't do anything to dissuade those who drive recklessly anyway. The great counter-argument for that is that if the discretion is left up entirely to the police on a "driving recklessly" standard, that gives way too much power to the police to enforce the laws in an arbitrary and capricious manner.

That said, laws work for adults because they assume a system of liability, which is usually governed by Contracts and Torts. Students don't know any better, and have no personal income anyway, and so strict, inflexible rules with no mind towards circumstances are ludicrous. If a few kids are using hugging to harass, then that can and should be clear to those observing, who can do something about it then. Clear rules as to when you should be in class, contraband items, and (where appropriate) maybe even dress-code, make some sense, but making the teachers the cops of these issues and then giving them no discretion over how the rules are applied leads to bad results.

Also, because I'm sure that me just saying this will be enough to solve the problem: if an institution so universal to our culture as the educational system has to cower in fear whenever anyone threatens a lawsuit against them, no matter how frivolous, that institution isn't getting nearly the funding it needs to do its job properly.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:34 PM on May 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


Oh I wish I was a teenager in later 2000's America!

Instead I went to a school where the "Discipline Master" (his actual title) would draw dotted lines on a drawing of a boy's face to indicate the absolutest, naughtiest point where the parting of your hair could be. Cross those boundaries and he would SMITE you. With authority.

Hugging!
posted by WalterMitty at 7:45 PM on May 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Girls embracing girls, girls embracing boys, boys embracing each other...

Won't someone think of the trees?
posted by Sailormom at 7:53 PM on May 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hugs to say hello? What's next, hello intercourse?
posted by HumuloneRanger at 7:54 PM on May 28, 2009


I'm so glad my kids' daycare allows teachers to hug and kiss the little ones. I find it very loving and sweet.
posted by Dragonness at 7:56 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


The best day ever: When THIS is the biggest problem we face.
posted by jcworth at 7:57 PM on May 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Drama club hugged ALL THE FUCKING TIME.

...but I was part of the theatre group, and we all know (maybe) what that's like.

Huh. My hugging friends weren't involved in theater at all. The theater folks I met later were more the fuck-at-the-drop-of-a-hat type.
posted by davejay at 8:01 PM on May 28, 2009


Less torture, less lawsuits, more hugging.

I mean, geez. I'm not one to initiate hugs and am often told that I look really uncomfortable when people hug me, but I've never refused any. When I'm on the receiving end I often really need them but I'm just not in the right state of mind to say so.

I coulda sworn I read somewhere about how a teen thanked some random classmate who hugged her, because were it not for that she was planning on killing herself later that day. Maybe I'm fudging a detail here or there but it sounds plausible enough. >_>;

Banning hugging. WTF.
posted by Yoshi Ayarane at 8:10 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


It just goes to confirm that school principals don't have enough to fucking do.

It's probably appropriate that I read this as "school principals don't have enough fucking to do."

The hug ban is absolutely ridiculous. I'd hate to grow up in such a sterile environment. I'm actually a naturally touch-inclined and huggy person. Sure, not everyone likes to be hugged, but you can tell them to stop.

In that case facetious mentioned, an assault is still an assault and should be reported as such, but that doesn't mean depriving everyone else of normal human interaction.
posted by cmgonzalez at 8:24 PM on May 28, 2009


Embarrassing awesome personal story time!

Dude.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:31 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


If I didn't get a hug every once in a while during high school, I'm not sure I would have made it.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:55 PM on May 28, 2009


How would you feel if everyone but you were getting hugs from everyone else except for you?

/not what these "administrators" are worried about
posted by porpoise at 8:59 PM on May 28, 2009


I know a sweet little six year old that was reprimanded by her principal for hugging too much. I always give her a big hug when I see her - especially at school. When I worked in elementary school I always hugged the children (in the secondary school, not so much, but I never knew which students had knives). My work is pretty huggy too - I must have hugged at least eight co-workers today and I only worked three hours. The world needs more hugs.
posted by saucysault at 9:02 PM on May 28, 2009


At my previous job we had Thursday morning hugs for a while. It started as a joke, but turned out to be pretty rad, actually. Let's hope this generation can usher in workplace hugging.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 9:34 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I was in junior high school guys would give girls one-handed hugs and then snap their brassiere straps.
posted by Oriole Adams at 9:45 PM on May 28, 2009


I found myself getting ready to "grade" the "Free Hugs"-sign-holders at FanimeCon in San Jose this past weekend by how graceful they were in accepting hugs from people I guessed they might view as not their target huggers. Actually, I only saw one hug-dodge; most everyone with a sign gracefully accepted hugs from all ages, sizes, genders, etc. I haven't been to a convention in a few years, and I could have sworn that back in the day this was just a tactic for people to scam contact from cute members of the preferred sex(es). The wall lined with dozens of anyone-huggers seemed to say differently. Go figure?

But given that I don't particularly like to be hugged without implicit or explicit permission, signs seem the way to go. :p (Only partly kidding here. Cons have always had a problem with too much unwanted personal contact. Maybe the kids should just wear buttons, bwahahah.)

P. S. Was a bit wary of the guy at FanimeCon with the "Free Brazilian Jiu Jitsu" sign though.
posted by wintersweet at 9:49 PM on May 28, 2009


Um. I'm 35. And "rampant hugging" was absolutfuckinglutely practiced in my middle and high school among all girls.

In my youth group, hugging between all genders and ages was a beloved part of our culture. I sincerely doubt that this was limited to United Methodists in central Maryland. (I know that it wasn't, actually.)

These days, hugging is common among my friends, even the tough-guy 40 yr old rockabilly dudes. Especially them, actually. Including between dudes.

NYT, where have you been?
posted by desuetude at 10:00 PM on May 28, 2009


Free hugs in Second Life (NSFW)

Before too long teenagers will be making out with each other as a greeting de rigueur and saying, "It's like being Italian!"
posted by XMLicious at 10:25 PM on May 28, 2009


Welcome to Bob Jones High School.
posted by StrangerInAStrainedLand at 10:48 PM on May 28, 2009


If I didn't get a hug every once in a while during high school, I'm not sure I would have made it.

Seconded. One day in French class, not long after I had come out to my whole school (inadvertently, but that's another story), I told some kid to shut up because he wouldn't stop talking. He hit right back with "No, you shut up, fag." I was about ready to cry.

When the bell rang a few minutes later and we all got up, this guy I didn't even know that well came over and gave me a hug without saying anything.

Funny how I spent four years in that place and that moment is still crystal clear in my head.
posted by spitefulcrow at 11:05 PM on May 28, 2009 [11 favorites]


aww man now I'm craving a hug and I'm stuck here at my non-hugging workplace. It could be days before I can score a hug.
posted by little e at 11:26 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hugs to say hello? What's next, hello intercourse?
posted by HumuloneRanger at 3:54 AM on May 29

The theater folks I met later were more the fuck-at-the-drop-of-a-hat type.
posted by davejay at 4:01 AM on May 29

These theater folks, they seem to be ahead of the curve, you know.

I for one welcome our new, warm, friendly, hugging overlords.
posted by WalterMitty at 12:04 AM on May 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


My small college is friendly and casual, and you get to know your professors well, and I've grown out of a lot of awkwardness in my years here, but I still feel weird when I receive the occasional professor-student hug.
posted by dreamyshade at 3:47 AM on May 29, 2009


I blame the comment box on Metatalk.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 3:49 AM on May 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm a high school teacher, and I must say they do hug more now than they did 15 years ago. How that can be seen as a bad thing is beyond me.

They're all way more relaxed about diversity than any previous generation. They call anything they don't like "Gay", except... ironically... their homosexual classmates.

Although they look funny hugging with gangrenous thumbs from all the endless texting.
posted by Hickeystudio at 4:08 AM on May 29, 2009


ColdChef, man, that was awesome. Now I want a hug.
posted by ocherdraco at 4:28 AM on May 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ya know, I'm currently living in France, land of the langurous, sloopy make-out session in public parks, the subway, cafés, and possibly your lap. HOWEVER, it's amazing how little hugging goes on here ; it's apparently a more powerfully sexual gesture than kissing. There's this very clear divide between what's appropriate for lovers and what's appropriate for friends / acquaintances / etc. That whole air-kiss thing is pretty much completely desexualized and is used to greet everyone (in some contexts, men kiss each other too, in other contexts, it's handshakes). However, the only people you'll see hugging are (sexual) partners and grandparent-grandchildren pairs. In general, there's very little casual touch in Paris ; aside from the air-kisses you first exchange upon greeting, the rest of your conversation will most likely involve no hands on shoulders, patting of knees, grasping of forearms or what have you. And I know from experience that if you apply normal north-american (or, god help you, latino / south-american) touching norms to conversation here, you end up making people confused and uncomfortable.

So, yeah, I could use a hug.
posted by LMGM at 5:22 AM on May 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


Back in the late nineties we were hugging all the time. However, it was exclusively girl-guy hugs. Now I hug guy friends too, but usually only after my fiance does: she is an extroverted who breaks the hug-ice with ease.

I find my generational slice (born in '83) to be on a sort of cusp where we are determining whether we want to be that intimate. Mostly, we do, we don't touch enough in this culture I don't think, but we don't want to impose upon others or create awkwardness.

I'm going to live in a cooperative next year; it will be the second year of the organization and the first year in a fourteen occupancy house, and it is a goal of mine is to inculcate a culture of hugging.

Viva la hug revolution!
posted by wires at 7:39 AM on May 29, 2009


As always: appearing in the New York Times Style Section is the death knell of any popular activity.
posted by indiebass at 7:55 AM on May 29, 2009


This is an issue of branding. Hugs don't seem as nefarious as some other morally reprehensible behavior because of the name. "Sexting" is the perfect example - the scary word for what everyone THINKS this actually is portmanteau'd onto the word of what it ACTUALLY is.

In this case I propose we go with "fugging".
posted by dirtdirt at 8:57 AM on May 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anyone else want to hug Coldchef right now, or is it just me?

As for the thread topic, I wish I'd gone to a school where hugging was so common, I might have turned out a lot more laid back and less uptight about physical contact. I suspect, like The Whelk, I was a tad "touch deprived".
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 10:03 AM on May 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is one of the things actually making me more hopeful about society, both in that it shows a greater degree of caring among people and in that barriers against expressing that caring are, except apparently by high school administrators, seen as no longer mattering. For years everyone has been saying that we're becoming more and more isolated and this seems a good step in the other direction. Psychologists and doctors keep telling us that hugging is good for both emotional and physical health, so this seems to me to be something that should be celebrated and encouraged.
posted by blue shadows at 2:52 AM on May 31, 2009


I'm so glad my kids' daycare allows teachers to hug and kiss the little ones. I find it very loving and sweet.

I work with kids and when I taught preschool there were rules about hugging. Teachers weren't supposed to initiate hugs, and any hug that was child initiated was to last no more than ten seconds. No kissing. Ever. The lawsuit paranoia was such that if a kid were to say "I love you, teacher!" the correct response was "Thank you, that's very friendly."

I've shed the shackles of the establishment and as a nanny, my reign of terror involves rampant hugging. Maybe even a kiss or two on the forehead. I consider it the biggest perk of my job. On the downside, I have to wipe someone else's butt. On the upside... TODDLER SNUGGLES.

As to the teenage hugging - no one in my high school would ever show affection, lest the hockey team find out and pee on you in your sleep or some such thing. It was a pretty hands-off crowd. I moved to Germany for a while right after graduation and didn't know what to do when people would greet me by trying to hug me. For me, hugging as greeting was reserved for family you hadn't seen in years and then you had to be prodded into doing it ("Oh give your crazy Uncle Eddie a hug!"). It was truly, truly bizarre. Equally bizarre for them to realize I wasn't antisocial, people just didn't *hug* where I came from.

I blame the Puritans. Giving Americans weird ideas about personal space since 16bliggedyblah.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:28 AM on May 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Free Hugs!
posted by empath at 12:36 PM on May 31, 2009


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