We teach our children “Good Touch/Bad Touch.” Now preteens in Milford, Conn. are learning “No Touch.” Local news there reported this weekend that parents at the East Shore Middle School received a letter from Principal Catherine Williams, which said that any touching at all on school grounds — including “hugging” and “horseplay” — could result in “parent conferences, detention, suspension and/or a request for expulsion from school.”
The catalyst for the policy — which the school insists has been on the books all along, but which parents and students say is certainly a stricter interpretation than ever before — was an incident earlier this month when a student required treatment in the emergency room after a kick to the groin.
While some parents say they are supportive, others are outraged at what they call an overly broad response to a real problem.
“As a parent, I just don’t agree with it,” Edward Abbazia, whose son Patrick is a 14-year-old eighth grader told the News-Times. “This is going to happen — they’re going to touch each other. My son’s going to physically touch his friend, you know, shake his hand or pat him on the back, and he’s going to get detention and he knows it, but he’s going to do it anyway…the high fives, the hugging.”
In fact Patrick’s parents gave him permission to protest the policy — by going to school on Friday with his arms taped to his sides at the elbows with bright blue duct tape.
Lenore Skenazy is the creator of the blog Free-Range Kids, where she tracks what she sees as the growing tendency of parents (and schools) to swathe children in bubble-wrap. This policy, she wrote yesterday, is the latest example of aiming an elephant gun at a flea.
You can understand the administration’s frustration. A kid was seriously hurt by a kick to the groin — that’s just awful. But why is the response to criminalize all physical contact? Why not criminalize, say, kicks to the groin?
What happened here seems to be the knee-jerk response to any problem these days: Overkill, just like when schools ban tag because a kid could trip, or cupcakes, because a kid could get fat.
For Liberty, For Freedom.
Kristan T Harris