Cupcakes are out, and in an increasing number of schools, so are carbonated soft drinks. And over the past year, some schools even started banning tag on the playground.
Just when you think there’s nothing that gives you warm and fuzzy memories about your own childhood left to ban, schools are coming up with a new one.
“Would you want your children to be hugging or kissing at school without your knowledge?” asks David Hadley, the principal of Fossil Hills Middle School in the north Texas town of Keller. “That’s the issue.”
Hadley’s school is one of a growing number that has banned not just hugging but all other PDAs — Public Displays of Affection — including holding hands.
One student at the school, eighth-grader Ashley Highberger, told NBC News that after she was reprimanded for holding hands with a fellow student, she started a petition to overturn the no-PDA policy.
She’s got 300 signatures, she said, but the policy remains.
It’s not just Texas. At the Percy Julian Middle School in Oak Park, Ill., hugging hasn’t been banned outright, but teachers and administrators have banned what they call “extreme hugging” in hallways.
Dr. Victoria Sharts, the school’s principal, says that’s when groups of students — usually girls — elaborately exchange hugs every time they see each other during breaks between classes. The practice clogs hallways and can make kids late for class, she said.
“They can hug their friends as long as it’s not in the hallways,” she told NBC. “We know there are times when it’s necessary, and we want to support one another.”
But with sexual harassment a hot-button issue, some districts ban all physical contact, hugs included.
In Fairfax County, Va., Kilmer Middle School has banned not just hugging, but all physical contact — including high fives.
One student who put his arm around his girlfriend’s shoulder was issued a warning and threatened with detention if it happened again.
At Kilmer, administrators said the ban was enacted because while most touching may be welcome, some touching isn’t.
“You get into shades of gray,” Kilmer Principal Deborah Hernandez told the Associated Press earlier this year. “The kids say, ‘If he can high-five, then I can do this.’” It’s not just in America, either. Last year, a school for children 11-18 in Great Britain told students to stop hugging so much.
“Hugging was happening extensively and becoming the norm. We were worried it might become inappropriate. So we nipped it in the bud,” headmaster Steven Kenning told “The Times” [of London].
As with everything related to school, some parents like it and some don’t.
“It’s a highly hormonal age, so for me, I’d rather she didn’t go around hugging,” Antonia Fernandez, a parent, told NBC.
Another parent, Lawrin Riles, thought banning hugs was going too far.
“You're not going to have everybody late just because they took a minute to hug another kid for their birthday or because they won the game over the weekend,” Riles said.