A Milford, CT middle school recently banned all physical contact between students, including high-fives, handshakes, and hand-holding, in an attempt to cut down on "horseplay." Because teenagers always respond well to no-touching rules from adults!
The ban was implemented after a student was injured in a "groin-kicking" incident; school officials decided that instead of cutting down on bullying and educating students about the difference between violence and hand gestures of a celebratory nature, they'd just ban ALL contact. Every touch is a bad touch at East Shore Middle School, dig?
This type of uber-protectionism is always an epic fail: telling students they can't touch each other just makes it more enticing for them to try to sneak a touch every so often. But the bigger issue here is this: if we're teaching kids that ALL touching is bad touching, aren't we, in theory, lessening the truly bad types of physical contact? If children are taught that a high five is just as punishable and "bad" as a boy groping a girl's breasts against her will, aren't we essentially saying that sexual assault deserves the same amount of negative attention and punishment as say, two kids who just want to hold hands? By going to the extreme and attempting to pass such bullshit rules, the school is watering down the true problem: that some students have assaulted other students. A kid getting beaten up is a sign that there is a bullying problem that needs to be addressed, not a touching problem.
"Now it's almost as if it's a sanitized school," says one outraged parent, "Where you have to keep your distance from everybody? And that's not what school is about." It's not what life is about, either. The more we "protect" children with asinine rules like this, the more confused we make them about their own right to space, privacy, and their bodies. Forcing them to keep their hands to themselves only serves as a means to help the administration keep their heads in the sand.