The other day I stayed with my cousin since I had to be in San Diego for a meeting. In the morning, we were watching the news and her husband repeated a piece for me, asking, "did you hear about the school that's banned hugging?!" I'm sorry, what?!? Banned hugging? Are you kidding? Is this some sort of homophobic intolerance thing? "Nope. It's for everybody." Wait....no one can hug? You're kidding right?! Man people are ignorant. Lord have mercy. I looked up the subject and found various articles in different states. This one cites "gray area" as one of the motivators...that there is gray area with touch, so therefore BAN IT ALL. Of course there is gray area. Life is gray area. Things are not black and white. Things are not clear cut, and if we prohibit our children and youth from the gray area then how in the world do we expect them to navigate the even larger expanses of gray area once they are adults?!?
I get that the schools are trying to avoid lawsuits and inappropriate touch issues, but here's what I think:
I think we need human to human contact. We need touch. We need hugs and kisses, and pats on the back. It's good for us. Haven't you heard of the 7 hugs a day rule? (This article highlights some of these things) We are not solitary beings, we are communal--created so we would have companionship, created by a God who in God's self lives community (3 persons, one essence...). Not to mention the many times Jesus touches someone to heal them, forgive them, or revive them. We need touch. And it's when we get deprived of touch that things start to go haywire. In Spanish there's a word: acariciar. While there are translations for it (caress, touch lightly, stroke), those don't quite get to the full meaning. We don't have a good English equivalent...if we had a word like "to affection" that would be a better fit in my opinion. Acariciar is to share affection with someone, to be affectionate. Cariño is the noun, it means affection. My theory is that when we are deprived of this necessary touch, that's what leads to perversion, problems, and inappropriate touch. When you couple the lack of affection with the oversexualization in our culture and the media, you have a potent combination. (Think of folks who have someone their attracted to touch their arm--instantly it's turned into a question of flirtation and lust. Think of how we guard ourselves against being too affectionate with those we care for (especially friends) for fear of being misinterpreted.) Trust me, as a mandatory reporter and someone who's worked with survivors of sexual and domestic violence, I'm very aware of how dangerous inappropriate/improper touch can be. And we can't just go around touching and hugging people at random--we've been cultured differently than that and there would be problems, but we do have to teach good touch. We need to model good cariño. Healthy hugging. Non-sexual cuddling. I think if we did more hugging and healthy touch, then people would be less prone to perversions, and if we had more instances of non-sexual/platonic touch, then we wouldn't feel like every time someone touched us that it had some sort of sexual meaning.
Going back to the school thing...I was a good student. Never really in trouble (sometimes I got a little brazen in speaking to my teachers...but never anything major). I obeyed the rules, the dress code, attendance, everything. But let me tell you, if this stupid hug rule had been enacted at my school, I probably would have been sent to the principal's office at least a couple times a week. I'm amazed that such a rule would be made...that everyone on the school board or PTA or whatever of a school could be so myopic as to not understand the need for touch, for affection, for students to be able to share love and care with one another. God help us.