A South West primary school has banned pupils from hugging each other, imposing a detention on a 12-year-old girl for giving her friend a goodbye hug at the end of the school day.
Parent Heidi Rome said she was concerned that her Year 6 daughter, Amber, was given such a harsh punishment after Adam Road Primary School acting principal Gemma Preston witnessed the friendly hug.
The school said it had brought in the ban late last year because boys and girls were hugging each other inappropriately.
Some students had also been running across the schoolyard and bumping into each other.
Ms Rome said the school should teach those students how to behave appropriately, instead of banning hugs altogether.
“Also siblings are not allowed to hug each other,” she said.
“So how can you explain to a five-year-old that they can’t hug their older brother or sister?”
“I do not want my younger primary-aged children being brought up in a society that says hugs between friends and siblings are inappropriate at school.”
Ms Preston said the no hugging rule was introduced after parents complained about their children being hurt by excessive hugging.
“For example, some children received bruised ribs from an over-enthusiastic hug,” she said.
“This behaviour was getting out of control with students hugging each other several times a day, and this was becoming disruptive to classes.”
She said the rule was reinforced with Year 6 and 7 students again last week during a general talk about being role models for the younger students.
“In this particular incident, the students involved were hugging on school grounds just two hours after this talk and it was important to follow it through as a discipline issue,” she said.
Education Minister Peter Collier said students hugging each other had become “culturally acceptable”, but he supported the school’s stance on the issue.“If the hugging was becoming excessive, it’s entirely up to them to make that decision,” he said.