ABERDEEN TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey school superintendent says there's no policy against hugging in the district, and says the issue of middle schoolers being told by their principal not to hug each other anymore is being blown out of proportion.
The district says Matawan-Aberdeen Middle School Principal Tyler Blackmore made an announcement that its 900 students were in a "no hugging school" following some "incidents of unsuitable, physical interactions."
School Superintendent David Healy said the district has the responsibility to teach children about appropriate interactions. But he said no one would be disciplined for hugging.
"There is no policy specific to hugging, and we have not, nor will we be, suspending students for hugging," he said in a written statement. "It is unfortunate that there are those who find purpose and humor in sensationalizing such a routine school-related issue at the expense and inconvenience of our children and our school community."
The superintendent said he believes the principal acted responsibly in making the recent school announcement regarding hugging. The district's Board of Education does have policies in place to address bullying, inappropriate relationships and inappropriate conduct, he added.
Students range in ages from 11 to 14 in grades six to eight.
This isn't the only instance of schools trying to ban behavior that might be perceived as affectionate. The New York Times reported on a trend in 2010 of educators trying to discourage the idea of "best friends." This trend has recently found real-life expression in the United Kingdom, where teachers have been outright telling students not to have best friends.