Sun, Nov 05, 2006 - Page 1 News List

UK school head tells kids `stop hugging'

`NAMED AND SHAMED` Parents and councilors have expressed their anger over a `ridiculous` ban as a school says that some embraces are `inappropriate`

THE GUARDIAN , LONDON

Pupils have long been banned from running in the corridors and smoking in the toilets but youngsters at a school in Cornwall in the south west of England have now been told to stop hugging each other.

To the anger of some parents and the bemusement of many students, the headteacher of Callington Community College claims excessive hugging is making youngsters late for lessons and, in some cases, leading to "inappropriate" embraces.

Pupils claimed on Friday that some had received detentions for hugging while others had been "named and shamed" in assembly.

Local municipal councillor Kath Pascoe said the school's move was "ridiculous".

`Better than fighting'

Pascoe, who has two grandchildren at the school, added: "I don't see anything wrong with hugging -- better that than fighting and arguing. Surely it can't take them that long to get to lessons."

Another councilor, Chris Thomas, said: "I can't see what good this does. How long does it take to hug someone? What will they do next? Stop people from smiling at each other?"

David Cohen, author of the book Body Language, said: "Human beings are touchy-feely creatures by nature. You certainly can't go round the London Underground hugging people but this is entirely different. I've never heard of hugging getting in the way of home economics."

Michelle Elliott, of the anti-bullying and abuse helpline Kidscape, said: "Surely it is better youngsters get the human contact they need innocently -- if you ban it they are far more likely to seek it round the back of the bike sheds."

"People need to hug each other. They should hug each other more and it sounds as if this is quite a nice school if the kids all feel they can hug each other," she said.

She said: "Whatever they have got there I wish they could bottle it up and spread it around all the schools in the country where the students are afraid of violence and bullying and knives."

Headteacher Steve Kenning declined to comment on claims that pupils had been given detention or named and shamed.

In his explanation on the school Web site he wrote: "Hugging has become very acceptable amongst students and this has led to some students believing that it is okay to go up to anyone and hug them, sometimes inappropriately."

`Please avoid hugging'

"This is very serious not only for the victim but also for anyone accused of acting inappropriately. To avoid putting anyone at risk please avoid hugging," he wrote.

He continued: "During the changing of lessons girls were hugging each other and taking too much time to get to lessons. We also had complaints from other students about inappropriate hugging. It was going on too often and people were abusing it."

Kenning insisted hugging wasn't banned at the 1,250-pupil school but said pupils were being asked not to do it.

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