They hug teachers. They hug parents. They've hugged salespeople in the shoe store at the mall.
I can't imagine how they would fair at a school that forbade touching. But, here we go.
Coghlan Fundamental Elementary School in Aldergrove, BC sent home a letter with kindergarten parents last week informing them of an absolute ban on ... touching.
"We have unfortunately had to ban all forms of hands-on play for the immediate future … we will have a zero-tolerance policy," the handout reads.
On the surface, this sounds ridiculous. Listen to the administrators from the school district and you'll have a better understanding of what's going down, but it doesn't make it any less ridiculous.
"Obviously, student safety is important for us here and the letter was meant as a forum for informing parents," School District 35's Ken Hoff told The Province newspaper. "It's not a long-term situation. They've hit the pause button to get behaviours under control."
The letter specifically mentioned imaginary Star Wars lightsaber duels as one of the banned forms of play, (I'm sorry, but those are the best kind; here's proof). The letter then went on to list tag, holding hands, and touching someone.
Parents have been asked to have chats with their children about keeping their hands to themselves and come up with non-fighting games for fun on the school grounds. The policy was brought in place because of some injuries on the playground.
"I don't know how anyone would be against this," school employee Arthur Bourke told the paper. "They're trying to make it safe for everybody. It's something we have to do - if we don't control it, it will get out of hand."
It's not the first time these sorts of headlines have made news.
Back in 2009, a Milford, Conn school banned its students from so much as a high five in the hallway after one student was kicked in the groin. The school meant business too. Anyone caught violating the rule would be subject to "parent conferences, detention, suspension and/or a request for expulsion from school."
Last year it was another school that was trying to cut down on teenage flirtation along with the apparent bullying with a "no loving, no shoving" policy.
There is a common thread through all of them - over reaction to an over sensitivity.
"Children need to be protected from violence," says an article in Time Magazine, "but we can't monitor their physical contact every moment of their childhoods, so we need to give them the chance to work out the vast area of healthy contact."
You can appreciate that administration needs to get a handle on things and reset the bar in terms of what is expected from students at school. A temporary tightening of rules can help get that measure reset, but in the other breath you look at it and say what are we doing here?
School bans touching? Touching. How can they be serious?
Are we that terrible at monitoring our kids that we can't handle the few running amok on the playground, and we must put the entire student population on lockdown?
Apparently we are.
-By Buzz Bishop