Exploring the Appropriateness of Teacher-Student Hugging

When I served as an educator, I gained recognition for several distinctive traits: my prohibition of the word “hate,” my penchant for wearing numerous rings on my fingers, and my proclivity for embracing my students. Regardless of whether I was instructing kindergarteners, fourth graders, or fifth graders, I always greeted and bid farewell to my students with hugs, provided they desired one. I embraced them on their birthdays, to commemorate their achievements, to offer solace, and to provide reassurance and tranquility.

In recent years, there has been a surge in reports of inappropriate and criminal conduct by teachers towards their students, resulting in increased media coverage. Consequently, educators are now advised against physical contact with students. This precautionary measure ensures that no innocent gesture can be misconstrued. I observed teachers informing their students that they were not allowed to receive hugs.

However, I did not conform to that approach. Any child who sought a hug received one from me. Additionally, I bestowed high-fives, blew air kisses across the hallway, engaged in pinkie swears, and placed a comforting hand on their shoulder. Not everyone endorsed my hands-on approach, but that was my authentic self. I was willing to accept any reprimands if it meant that a child knew they were cherished and cared for.

My son attended an exceptional preschool where he was one of twenty children under the guidance of three teachers. They firmly believed in the power of hugs and kisses planted atop the children’s heads. Now, my son is in kindergarten, part of a group of twenty-three students overseen by one primary teacher and a part-time teacher’s assistant. However, his teacher does not engage in hugging.

One afternoon during dismissal, my son asked me if his teacher would bid him farewell with a hug. We inquired if Ryan could hug her, and she turned to the side and offered a half-hearted embrace. Later, Ryan questioned me about his teacher’s hug, remarking, “It didn’t feel warm and cozy.” I explained that she was wearing her keys around her neck and likely wanted to avoid accidentally bumping into him with them.

There is no simple explanation for the dearth of hugs my son is experiencing this year. Some argue that hugs have no place within an academic environment, asserting that children attend school to learn, not to be cuddled.

Personally, I would like to remind others that the primary focus here is on “children.” We are discussing the well-being of children who require a sense of safety, respect, and care. In my experience, hugs effectively fulfill all of those needs. Meanwhile, I cannot compel someone to adopt an affinity for embracing; all I can do is reassure my son that his teacher’s role is to maintain the health and safety of him and all his classmates. Every adult within his school has the foremost responsibility of ensuring the well-being and safety of all the children.

And my son understands that in our family, there will never be a scarcity of hugs and kisses.

Hello, and welcome to my travel website! My name is Jennifer E. Sheahan, and I'm a passionate travel enthusiast who loves to explore new places and experience different cultures. I believe that travel is not just a way to escape from the daily grind, but also a way to learn and grow as a person.

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