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Protect Me from Hugs


  Monkey Hug 
  Originally uploaded by jamesfarnham.

Alan kindly sent me a link to this article: Oak Park School Bans Hugs.

Hugs are natural and good; they remind our bodies that we have connections we can rely on. Hugging probably releases oxytocin. Come on, it's got to -- but scientists can't get grants to study hugs, it seems.

According to the article, administrators at the school banned hugging because "students [were] forming 'hug lines' that made them late for classes and crowded the hallways."

Evidently "hug lines" are not simple hugs between two people but rather a sort of conga line that can involve ten or more people at once, and this is what was clogging the hallways, according to another news report.

At first, I thought banning hugs was really sad. Okay, I still do. I can see banning hug lines inside the building -- wouldn't that have been enough? It's sad that our culture is becoming more and more touch-phobic.

If you read the comments on the first article, you get a fairly nuanced and broad range of perspectives on this ban, and, by extension, on touching, period. Some people think it's not really hugging, it's groping (touch-negative but probably somewhat accurate). Some people want their kids to focus on schoolwork and getting to class on time (goal-oriented but unrealistic -- school is as much about socialization as it is about learning). And some  bemoan the loss of our ability to reach out to others (I agree, but we're maybe a tad idealistic.)

At bottom, I think we have lost the ability to fine-tune human relationships; we're so all-or-nothing. Sexual abuse of children and unwanted touching by schoolmates is certainly a problem, so let's ban ALL touching, because no one can differentiate.

We NEED touch; we may need touch more than we need to be saved from it.

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