No Hugs at School? Principal in NJ Declares Hugging Off-Limits

Posted March 23, 2012 by

Photo of elisabeth

When do you decide there’s just too much physical contact among students?

A principal at the Matawan-Aberdeen Middle School in NJ, whose students range in age from 11 to 14, decreed that the school would not allow hugging anymore after incidents of “unsuitable physical interactions.”

Students who hug will not be suspended, according to the school superintendent, who believes the principal acted responsibly.

This story leaves me wondering if the “hugging” that was happening was really a form of  inappropriate PDA — and if so, exactly how many students were doing it? If it’s only a small number, then why punish everyone for the actions of a few?  A student at the school said that the rule “makes our school look bad, and it makes our school look like we do more than hug, but we do not.”

Superintendent David Healy says the school has the responsibility to teach students about appropriate interactions.

When I was in high school, there were rules about PDA in the halls, but no one ever said that we weren’t allowed to hug — which is a pretty natural and appropriate reaction after you win a game, when your friend has a birthday, or when someone you care about is upset.

What do you think? Should the principal be given the benefit of the doubt? Has this school gone too far, or are the actions justified? And should all the students be punished for the actions of a few?


Elisabeth Wilkins was the editor of Empowering Parents and the mother of an 10-year-old son. Her work has appeared in national and international publications, including Mothering, Motherhood (Singapore), Hausfrau, The Bad Mother Chronicles, and The Japan Times. Elisabeth holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine.

Popular on Empowering Parents


Join our NEW Total Transformation® Learning Center!

Practical, affordable parenting help starting at $14.95/month BECOME A MEMBER TODAY!

Empowering Parents is the leading online resource for child behavior help


Parent Coaching Sessions

7.5 Million

Global Visitors

10+ Years

Helping Families