– No touching: Girl, 12, gets detention for hugging classmate at WA school (news.com.au, Nov 1, 2012):
- Girl, 12, given detention for hugging a classmate
- No-hugs rule introduced over “excessive hugging”
- Mother says rule is “absolutely ridiculous”
- NSW school bans handstands, cartwheels, somersaults
- Schools in Victoria and South Australia ban hugging
A MOTHER in Western Australia is demanding an apology from her kids’ school after her 12-year-old daughter was given a detention for hugging a classmate.
Heidi Rome’s daughter Amber was punished at the Adam Road Primary School in Bunbury, south of Perth, for giving her friend a quick hug after the school bell rang.
Apparently that violated the school’s no-hugging policy, a “blanket rule” which was brought in last year.
The WA Education Department today confirmed the school’s policy. It was introduced after “excessive hugging” left some students with bruises and others feeling left out.
The school’s acting principal Gemma Preston told news.com.au: “We introduced a rule about hugging last year after parents complained about their children being hurt by excessive hugging.
“For example, some children received bruised ribs from an over-enthusiastic hug.
“This behaviour was getting out of control with students hugging each other several times a day, and this was becoming disruptive to classes.
“The rule was reinforced with our Year 6 and 7 students again last week during a general talk about being role models for the younger students.
“In this particular incident, the students involved were hugging on school grounds just two hours after this talk and it was important to follow it through as a discipline issue.”
Education department deputy director general David Axworthy said: “Principals are in the best position to determine what rules need to be made inside their schools.”
Ms Preston told Ms Rome she had to make example of Amber and her friend, who were “caught” hugging just hours after a school address on the ban.
Ms Rome is angry her daughter, a high achiever and a “bright, caring person who her teacher thinks highly of” has become a victim of a “silly, ridiculous rule”.
“I didn’t even know about it, and everyone I’ve spoken to thinks it’s outrageous,” she told news.com.au.
“Some parents are aware of the rule – they think it’s absolutely ridiculous. Some parents aren’t aware – they also think it’s absolutely ridiculous.”
She was told by the school that she would have to put the issue in writing.
Ms Rome says she is concerned that kids are getting the wrong message when they are punished for being friendly.
“It’s a really good school that’s just got a silly rule that I’m wanting to try and change,” she said.
“I think my daughter deserves an apology for this over-the-top punishment.”
In 2010 the parents from a Gold Coast primary school labelled a move to issue detentions for hugging on school grounds as “political correctness gone mad”.
Ms Rome says some parents at Amber’s school had complained about boyfriend/girlfriend hugging and excessive contact, prompting the rule to be introduced.
But she is adamant that her daughter’s punishment was taking that issue to the extreme.”Why not teach children appropriate behaviour instead of banning hugs altogether? What is that teaching the children – that hugs are inappropriate and wrong?” she said.
“Schools should be a comforting place for kids and be all warm and fuzzy. Hugging is a development thing and a social skill.”
Ms Rome does not know how to explain the rule to her younger children, aged nine and five.
“I’m concerned about the social implications,” she said.
“My youngest goes up to my eldest daughter’s friends to give them a hug, like he would normally, but then they say they can’t. How’s my five-year-old supposed to know the difference?”
News.com.au contacted the school and we were referred to the Education Department for comment.