Students At N.J. Middle School Say Principal Announced Ban On Hugging

MATAWAN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) —There is a lot of confusion at Matawan-Aberdeen Middle School, where students say the principal made an unusual announcement last week.

“First, I heard over the loudspeaker ‘We are a no hugging school’ and we are…’This is our new policy,'” student John Carelli told CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu on Thursday.

Some of the students went home with stories about a hugging ban that if they hugged in school, they could be suspended.
Some parents, including Tammy Sabatini, who has had three kids attend the school, found the idea crazy.

“They’ve hugged forever since they were babies and now they’re being told they can’t do it,” Sabatini said.

1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports

“It’s stupid, I’ve never heard of such a thing. Why can’t you hug?” another parent told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg. “That’s how we grew up, with affection. You hug, you kiss.”

“It’s kind of silly,” one man said. “When I was in middle school I hugged my friends — boys and girls. I don’t know what the big deal is.”

On Wednesday night, many parents received the following recorded message from the principal, trying to clarify things:

“Hugging can be inappropriate and we want to make sure that there’s no inappropriate physical contact.  We certainly do not have a policy against hugging nor do we intend to or have we suspended students for hugging,” the message said.

The message went on to say the school wants the students to stay focused on academics. CBS 2’s Hsu tried to talk to the principal about the issue, but he had no comment. The school superintendent also had no comment.

“I just think it’s an outrage. It’s hugging. It’s not like it’s going to kill anyone,” said student Miranda Allen.

WCBS 880’s Sean Adams On The Story

“If they can’t do it in school, they have plenty of time to hug their friends outside of school — when they’re home under the supervision of their parents, and when they’re in school, they can learn,” parent Deirdre Ring said.

So while there’s still a lot of confusion over the whole issue, students say they will keep on hugging off school grounds.

What do you think of the idea of a hugging ban? Let us know below…

  • Lucy Mauterer

    Two words: HOME SCHOOL


    I wish this much outrage would be voiced when teachers inappropriately “hug” students!!!

  • DDD

    The hugging got out of control. It was ridiculous in my child’s school. The kids would hug all the time: in the morning before school started, after EVERY class where they meet in the hall, before lunch, after lunch, when they meet again in the hall and of course when they left school.Whew! Sorry, but hugging is not acceptable behavior to do ALL the time. Then it becomes obsessive and out-of-control. For those of you that say the ban is stupid, observe the halls of a middle school and see for yourself.

  • just1girl

    *twitch* they are not “in the real world” they are in middle school, they’ll have sixty years in the “real world” when they are adults. let kids be kids why they still can!

    this is ridiculous, I remember being in highschool and hugging and it was just that, HUGS no groping or anything, and it was only ten years ago, nothing could have changed that much. I say all the kids should hug then get suspended, hey if they want to train them to be like “the real world” then they can go on strike and the dumb principal can’t work, and won’t get paid.

  • dakotahgeo

    ROFLMBO!!!! This has got to be the funniest serious news story since Lewinski’s cigar story. Our Educational Staff system has gone off the deep end, lolol!

  • David

    If they want to keep only academics in school and ban anything else, they should ban homework then to keep academics “in school”. Or ban studying at home! C’mon the school says its where academics should be, and when is a school wrong…?
    Idiotic school systems these days….

  • Anne

    I’d like to hug that Principal, but not in a place he would appreciate.

  • Morisot

    Hugging and physical contact can be great ways for BULLIES to make other kids miserable! Since it is often impossible to tell the good touching from the bully-tactic kids should KEEP THEIR HANDS TO THEMSELVES. The principal should be given a medal.

  • mj

    its about time…. next should be handshaking … you never know where a firm handshake is going to lead

  • Roeck

    No hugging? What a good idea. And while they’re at it they should require kids to keep their hands off each other. Hug and touch off the school grounds. Encourage kids to express themselves verbally on the school grounds. Save the hugs, kisses and touches for family members and friends outside of school. Schools spend too much time on matters that have nothing to do with academic matters.

  • Auzzievick

    For a long time I “marveled” at all these idiot rules/laws/approaches to schools that now seem to come faster than rain. I finally figured out what is going on: it’s a great way to focus parent’s attention away from the fact that the schools are “dumbed down,” & “Johnny can’t read” anymore. Great diversionary tatics.

  • Eric

    I just hope that after the 2012 defeat of obama and the left wing hate machine, the Conservatives approve vouchers for public schooling. Then the leftists will only be able to indoctrinate the idiots of their own party.

  • Mark

    This is one of the dumbest attempts at fascist control I have ever seen!
    How utterly stupid!!!

  • shempus

    what about home schooling?

  • 2gruesome2b

    does this mean i can’t hug my irish wolfhound, karl heinz, when he brings me a cold brew from my refrigerator? that political correct simpleton had better hope karl doesn’t get his paws the size of the first u-boot i serve on around his scrawny neck, or he’ll be just another name on the list of people who never should have gone into the education field

  • Barry Soetero

    I’ve never been to Russia, but I have been to New Jersey.

  • eddie too

    we can save a lot of money and heartache by eliminating brick and mortar schools and replacing them with online internet curriculums.

    no longer would parents have to put up with the nonsense the over-educated phd’s are pushing.

  • orlandocajun

    Why can’t I hug”?

    Because your parents elect liberals. It’s not anymore complicated than that.

  • OracleforHire

    After reading that crap, I need a hug!

  • settler

    Friendships (banned in some UK schools) might lead to hugging (banned in this US school), which might eventually lead to procreation (which some environmental groups would also like to see banned;

    Scared yet?

  • 3-Point Al

    We’re toast.

  • TexasDeeDee

    I used to be a middle school teacher in an affluent Texas suburb. If I hadn’t seen it myself, I wouldn’t have believed how disruptive the hugging is. Every time the bell changed and we were trying to get these kids moved quietly to their next classes, there was this huge free for all of mostly girls hugging, and shrieking hello to kids they had been separated from for all of two hours. They blocked access to the lockers for other kids trying to quickly get their books or something they had forgotten. It was noisy, loud, and get them all worked up just changing classes from one period to another and then you had to settle them all down again and give tardy slips to the really social ones. An additional problem was sexual behavior, with older (8th grade) boyfriends snuggling and holding their girlfriends from behind, the girl rubbing her backside all cozy and comfortable against the boy’s crotch for several minutes at a time. I had corrected one very curvy girl about three times and I finally told her, “Look, honey. You are thinking all lovey-dovey with little hearts and birdies and flowers popping out of your head like a cartoon. But that boy is a big, healthy young man and meanwhile, he is having an erection. Not because he’s bad, just because he’s a normal guy.” These PDA bans solve a ton of problems for time-wasting, noisy, or sexy kids.

    • 3-Point Al

      Liberals allow anything-goes behavior and then clamp down on the very behavior they helped create in the first place.

  • Jack Andre

    I think this is absurb. Hugging is part of every day iife.
    Huggung shoiuld be allowed is interaction between people.

  • AParent

    I wonder if they could turn the tables on this silly principal and blame them for racism, or at least cultural insensitivity.

    In Italian, French and Hispanic cultures, hugging and nonsexual physical contact are an everyday thing. You hug friends, close friends and family, men and women alike. On a nice day, you may walk around with arms around a shoulder chatting. And it’s not weird or sexual. With Mexicans and many Latin Americans, Girls kiss each other cheeks as part of the standard hello, and boys kiss girls cheeks. The boy hello is essentially a hug, and french men kiss both cheeks as a hello if they are good friends.

    If any of these kids are from any of these cultures, you could credibly argue that you are stifling their cultural expression.

    For Deb (former high school teacher), yes, it is also your job to teach them some social skills. The system requires these kids to be with you for longer than it requires them to be with their own parents. It’s nothing that can’t be fixed with a single one hour lecture on what is appropriate and then some follow up with proper punishments to the individuals who do it inappropriately.

    My wife is a preschool teacher and they do a lot of social skill training (not the hugging part specifically, but simple drills of basic social skills, conflict resolution and general behavior appropriateness+”taking care of their bodies”). I don’t see why teaching appropriate social behaviors can’t informally continue through their K-12 years based on adjusting what the group needs at that point in their lives. So go ahead, rent some movies from different countries and show the different appropriate ways friends hug in different cultures, let them practice under supervision and then punish the ones who distract the class as you see fit.

    You know, teaching the kids you actually have in front of you, rather than the kids the school program says you should have. That’s why they put a human instead of a robot. This principal is losing an education opportunity, and the lack of education on any area will come back to bite the kid later.

    Regarding the question “how many people should X hug before class starts” the answer is “as many as he can hug in the X seconds that it takes the teacher to get to the desk and start talking”. If he’s still busy, he can either sit down or go to the principal’s office. Hugging is clearly not the problem, delaying the class is. This stuff is not hard.

    Another thought occurs to me. Not teaching conflict resolution early enough tends to lead to bullying. How many people get bullied in this school? Do you know bullying causes permanent psychological damage and even suicide? Is this school addressing it with the same zeal they are addressing some kids hugging (and god I hope it’s not with the same skill)? And are they addressing it by teaching proper conflict resolution or are they just separating everyone?

    Think about it.

    • lukuj

      There are some people who are born bullies. You can teach them conflict resolution from the moment they emerge from the womb and use everything else at our disposal and it won’t make one wit of difference. For some, bullying is a character trait they are born with. We will never eradicate all bullies, and it is unwise to think we can. I am not saying that kids shouldn’t be taught other ways to resolve conflicts, but for most bullies, it isn’t about conflict. It is about making themselves feel powerful, jealousy, or low-self esteem. Anti-bullying talks, etc. are a good thing, but too much time and energy devoted to them is not more effective than making sure one a year kids are taught a lesson or view a video or hear a speaker and have teachers who monitor what goes on in class and on the playground. I taught 30 years, and it took, me quite awhile before I realized that some kids are bullies and will remain bullies until something monumental changes them or maturity kicks in – if it ever does. Punishment has to occur, but it does little good for many of them.

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