Tuesday, June 19, 2007

High-fives could mean detention for students

AP, June 18 2007

VIENNA, Virginia (AP) -- A show of affection almost landed a teenage boy in detention.

Hugging was 13-year-old Hal Beaulieu's crime when he sat next to his girlfriend at lunch a few months ago and put his arm around her shoulder. He was let off with a warning, but the cost of a repeat offense could be detention.

A rule against physical contact at Kilmer Middle School, about 10 miles west of Washington, is so strict that students can be sent to the principal's office for hugging, holding hands or even high-fiving.

"I think hugging is a good thing," said Hal, a seventh-grader. "I put my arm around her. It was like for 15 seconds. I didn't think it would be a big deal."

Unlike some schools, which ban fighting or inappropriate touching, Kilmer Middle School bans all touching.

But that doesn't seem necessary to Hal and his parents. They've sent a letter asking the county school board to review the rule.

But at a school of 1,100 students that was meant to accommodate 850, school officials think touching can turn into a big deal. They've seen pokes lead to fights, gang signs in the form of handshakes and girls who are uncomfortable being hugged but embarrassed to say anything.

"You get into shades of gray," Kilmer Principal Deborah Hernandez said. "The kids say, 'If he can high-five, then I can do this.' "

Hernandez said the no-touching rule is meant to ensure that students are comfortable and that crowded hallways and lunchrooms stay safe. She said school officials are allowed to use their judgment in enforcing the rule. Typically, only repeat offenders are reprimanded.

In case you missed that, allow me to quote: "the no-touching rule is meant to ensure that students are comfortable." How comfortable are the students in an environment where they have to live in dire fear of coming into physical contact with another student?

The old admonishment 'Keep your hands to yourself' is good advice but to take it to such extremes as this is ridiculous. We can only assume the school district has banned all contact sports such as football or wrestling, as well as playground games such as tag.

There are infinitely many ways of provoking fights, identifying gang members, or communicating discomfort that don't mean punishing students for touching each other... and in an overcrowded school like this, it's pretty much inevitable.

The more rules and regulations and requirements that are put upon the public, the more irrational and paranoid and alienated we're becoming. The best way to get through airline security, it seems, is to be stripped naked, have your body cavities evacuated, and be cryogenically frozen for the duration of the flight. Today's model student is nothing more than an automata, still and silent, kept placid through drugs and passive through conditioning.

This is a school. What are our kids learning? And how badly are we stunting their development? What will a future generation raised on these tactics be like, if not a flock of sheep?

I simply cannot think of a more appropriate place to post this video, and this blog's namesake.
You can see it in top quality on DVD with the rest of The Wall, an incredible film in its own right.



Sandra said...

At our school, high fives could mean being beaten with a wooden board. Check it out! http://stopschoolpaddling.blogspot.com/ Yes, it's true, the stupidity of this country's educators seems to know no end. From the Leslie Elementary Handbook in Leslie, Arkansas
"Prohibited Conduct"
"Inappropriate public displays of affection." Directly under this is "School Rules" "Keep hands, feet, and objects to self."

Next page under "Consequences For Breaking Rules" "Corporal Punishment"

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