A primary school in Western Australia has taken the eminently sensible move of handing out detention to a 12 year old student who hugged a classmate, in a major victory for behavioural and education standards.

Not acceptable, Pres. That could lead to hand-holding or even voting for you one day. Pic: AP

As revealed by the extremely huggable journalist Chris Paine on news.com.au today, Bunbury’s Adam Park Primary School has a longstanding ban on hugs, yet the girl cynically thumbed her nose at school rules, and has been punished accordingly.

The incident shines an overdue spotlight on the scourge of hugs at a time when school playgrounds are awash with numerous less serious transgressions which attract far more attention from the useless, myopic media.

Forget “sexting”. Never mind bullying, abusive language, smoking, drinking, party drugs, Facebook parties which run amok and the rest of it.

This school has rightly identified hugging as an extremely serious practice which has the potential not only to alienate the unhugged, but to cause actual physical damage.

As the acting principal of the school said, “we introduced a rule about hugging last year after parents complained about their children being hurt. For example, some children received bruised ribs from an over-enthusiastic hug.”

The acting principal also said:

“This behaviour was getting out of control with students hugging each other several times a day, and this was becoming disruptive to classes.”

This judicious educator should be applauded for taking such a bold stance, while the child’s parents must be roundly condemned for demanding an apology from the school.

An apology? A stern letter, more like. The school is clearly in the right here. It has wisely overlooked the fact that students in its lower grades significantly lag behind the national average in reading, spelling, grammar & punctuation and numeracy.

In a welcome throwback to the days when discipline was everything, these brave teachers have sent a message that hugging can lead to camaraderie or even a sense of belonging – traits which have no place in a competitive education system.

In other news, Israel Folau has quit the AFL for similar reasons, citing too many hugs. The former rugby league player says he is keenly looking forward to returning to an environment where the arse-pat is the accepted form of greeting.

Hug me on Twitter @antsharwood

Comments on this post close at 8pm AEST

Most commented


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    • nihonin says:

      04:18pm | 01/11/12

      I agree wholeheartedly with the action taken by the school, we don’t send our children there to learn anarchy.  wink

    • glagidontavekids says:

      04:50pm | 01/11/12

      Yes, of course, anarchy will be stamped out by a ban on hugging.

    • paul says:

      04:19pm | 01/11/12

      I remember at school the blokes who wanted a feel would always pretend to be really caring and sweetly give the girls hugs. Guys give girls hugs for a reason, it isnt just being mr nice.

    • Andrew says:

      04:32pm | 01/11/12

      Paul, Paul, Paul. Clearly you were in the unhuggable group. Have things got better for you since school?

    • paul says:

      04:53pm | 01/11/12

      haha yea getting by mate. Just.

    • sami says:

      04:24pm | 01/11/12

      Banning of hugs… I kind of understand. But I’m not a hugger so for me it wouldn’t be a big deal.
      I do disagree with the punishment though. Why not just a verbal warning? A letter to dad and mum? Detention is a bit over the top.

    • Criminal offender says:

      04:25pm | 01/11/12

      Thinking back to all the hugs I’ve given my parents, siblings, relatives, friends, boyfriend and more, it seems I deserve a few years in prison!

    • Pattem says:

      06:07pm | 01/11/12

      Do you need one last hug before you get led away in shackles?

    • Stuart says:

      04:35pm | 01/11/12

      Waving hello/goodbye has the potential to cause serious eye damage and should receive the appropriate penalty as well. While they are at it, there are major health risks in children sharing lunches, the black plague began with two six year olds sharing a cheese sandwich!

    • Chris says:

      05:30pm | 01/11/12

      They already banned lunch sharing a while back!

    • Kathryn Jones says:

      04:46pm | 01/11/12

      We pay fees to get educated not lose one of our five innate sensors ...........

    • Rose says:

      04:49pm | 01/11/12

      I have no Words on this ............. just ........WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Days says:

      04:52pm | 01/11/12

      There’s those that defend hugging as a harmless.  Trust me, it’s a GATEWAY ACTIVITY that will lead those who have tried hugging, to far more dangerous pursuits. 

      Despite its apparent harmless nature, it is important to think of the downstream consequences and nip it in the bud - before it’s too late.

    • willie says:

      05:22pm | 01/11/12

      I agree. Some facts on hugging.

      97% of teenagers who had unprotected sex admit they started with hugging.

      72% of maximum security inmates have a history of hugging.

      34% of violent crimes were committed within a week of either the perpetrator or victim being hugged.

      100% of people who have been hugged die within 90 years.

      Hugging is a scourge on society and if we dont act to stop it people will continue to hug.

    • Chris L says:

      05:55pm | 01/11/12

      It’s a short skip and trip from hugging to adopting an African baby with your non-married homosexual partner!

    • CX says:

      05:06pm | 01/11/12

      I hope high fives are also banned, that has the potential to cause life long eye damage.  In fact, what kind of message are we sending our kids with nappies called “huggies”, that washing detergent called “cuddly” and that kids music group “hi-5”.  Its no wonder these kids are all confused.

      Hi-5 is the “Marilyn Manson” of the age!

    • Gordon says:

      05:07pm | 01/11/12

      Jeez, kids today. whatever happened to the chinese burn?

    • Sophie says:

      08:39am | 02/11/12

      That’s how you knew someone cared, you were left with a burning forearm.

    • Ruth says:

      05:18pm | 01/11/12

      i am hoping that the anti-hug comments are all tongue in cheek.  Humans by their very nature need physical contact .  More damage is done but no-touch rules than anything I know.  I am not a huggy type, but I do appreciate a hug when feeling down or saying good bye or hello.  The incident in question was not even done in class time!  Sorry, but I will stick my neck out and say that the school is very very wrong in this instance.

    • Harry Q. Hammer says:

      06:27pm | 01/11/12

      Um… yes. How perceptive.

    • Hannah says:

      12:05pm | 02/11/12

      Ruth… seriously…?

    • Matt says:

      05:20pm | 01/11/12

      Good to see that people are writing articles, and leaving comments/opinions, that are based on factual studies that they’ve read on the very subject. Seriously! What is this world coming to!!??

    • Louise says:

      05:28pm | 01/11/12

      Hugs cause global warming. Down with hugs!

      On a serious note, mooving forward, I would support a ban on all public hugging, patting and otherwise touching other people’s bodies by PM Gillard. Enough Is Enough.

    • Pattem says:

      06:14pm | 01/11/12


      “Hugs cause global warming”

      Only if you squeeze too hard wink

    • Wayne says:

      05:46pm | 02/11/12

      Saw the PM on Sky today patting kids on the head.  She really looks awkward around children, especially with an election around the corner - time for boot camp - Children 101.  She’d actually be better off with a hands off approach.

    • stephen says:

      05:38pm | 01/11/12

      Hugs may be the only exercize a schoolchild gets, so maybe a smart kid can claim it as a sport.
      And how can you bruise a rib ? ; unless of course, a clay pipe got in the way.

      ps some school principals should go back to school themselves.

    • Brian says:

      05:53pm | 01/11/12

      They really should also ban kids from looking at each other in a friendly manner. God knows what that could lead to.

    • Paul G says:

      05:56pm | 01/11/12

      By banning hugging, we are raising our future politicans to have no real sense of belonging and perhaps, one day, we will be fortunate enough to see a parliament full of independents rather than those who would side with a particular group .. oh I can’t wait.

    • Pattem says:

      06:02pm | 01/11/12

      So, if you get detention for hugging a fellow student, what do you get if you get busted behind the Toilet Block?

    • Louise says:

      06:35pm | 01/11/12

      Then it’s straight to re-education camp for you!

    • El says:

      06:07pm | 01/11/12

      Truth be told we are run by a group of neurotic bureaucrats who live sheltered lives and have a marxist mindset. Time we begin a nationwide campaign to stamp out these people and all these rules. But truth be told the government is at fault too, this nany state mentality has taken root everywhere and it needs to stop.

    • EL says:

      06:10pm | 01/11/12

      I am betting the prinicple is an uptight pseudo-academic, who needs a hug ! lol

    • Faith says:

      06:16pm | 01/11/12

      I find this article so heart warming, knowing that all efforts to educate on children starts with the most basic of no hugging!
      It is great that they are focusing on this more than on their learning how to read, write, mathematics and those other insignificant topics that once were part of the curriculum.
      Can’t wait to see what will be next.

    • Sam says:

      06:26pm | 01/11/12

      A rule is a rule and was obviously created for a reason. Surely we should show some respect to the educators for responding to a genuine need and concern in their particular school context. Maybe kids should hug a book instead…perhaps then their grades would improve. Or, hug their parents who send them to school to learn and support what the school offers, including the rules!

    • BJ says:

      06:53pm | 01/11/12

      I suspect that kids were squeezing the bejesus out of their peers and saying that it was just a hug.

    • Hannah says:

      12:08pm | 02/11/12

      I think the kids would probably find they learn more by opening and actually reading the books as opposed to hugging them Sam. Besides they banned hugging.

    • Sickemrex says:

      06:32pm | 01/11/12

      I’ve just hurt my ribs from laughing, so should amusing articles be banned, or just me laughing? So confused.

    • Grip Tight says:

      06:32pm | 01/11/12

      And in news just in, the World Hugging Organisation’s World Heavyweight Champion, Chinese born, Mi Won, received a three year ban from WHO sanctioned hugging events after being disqualified during a title match for licking the ear of an opponent, causing the opponent to giggle and lose her grip. WHO also recently stripped seven time world champion “Cuddles” Armstrong of her titles after a three year investigation revealed that she had been using pheromones extracted from skunks to cause her opponents to submit.

      The sport is in disarray and is unlikely to become an Olympic event any time soon. “WHO takes such flagrant breaches of the rules seriously”, asked WHO president E.M. Brace, who declined to make any further comment as he was late for a ritual group hug to mark the end of the hugging season.

    • youdy beaudy says:

      05:48am | 02/11/12

      If hugging has been banned then is shaking hands alright or would that lead to broken fingers or severe arthritis or tendonitis in later life. God, how stupid is it all.

      Why don’t we take it further and not allow Grandparents or Parents to hug their grandchildren or children. Shaking hands should be banned, definately not a good look and also you might catch some disease. You never know where hands have been do you?. Now, touching is also a very violent thing and could lead to sensitivity and skin disease of various sorts.

      I think that hugging is good. There will be lots of it going on before the end of this century with what is coming down the track towards us all. Yes, we may all well need a good hug. But, no, they have a law against it. So, if your child or friend needs a hug of affection to help them psychologically over a problem that arises then they will just have to sit there and cry for a while. No affection is good affection.

      Now, what about the cane are they bringing that back to replace hugs. Those lawyer canes shore will sort it all out. How dare they hug, how dare you or we hug each other.

      Now, i think that if all the Jews and Muslims came out every day and gave each other a good hug instead of a rocket or bomb well that just might signal a brand new day in the middle east and that could lead to less violation of human rights and maybe peace in out time. Hey, but peace, what is that word or thing, peace, well they know nothing about that. Peace, strange word that and the outcome of such a word, well, it would never be able to be tolerated by us all.

      Yes, stop hugging each other otherwise Peace will become the norm and i tell you that results coming from it will certainly put hugging in its right perspective. From now on, no hugging as it will lead to peace and love and caring. We will not be able to tolerate such a horrible outcome.!

    • Al says:

      07:21am | 02/11/12

      Just waiting for a parent to sue the school for causing psychological damage and forcing their child to not participate in normal human social interaction (or perhaps even interfering in their childs love life). It could even be argued that it may lead to future issues surounding social interaction.

    • Sid Spart says:

      09:01am | 02/11/12

      We are social beings. Hugging is a reaffirmation of our community belonging.
      Solitary confinement is the ultimate punishment in a prison because it denies that core human need of a social being.
      Denying children the natural need to hug and feel a belonging to their peer group is a form of abuse.

    • Huggy says:

      07:55am | 02/11/12

      Year 12 students are adults not children.

    • PsychoHyena says:

      07:56am | 02/11/12

      Unfortunately, it all stems from a mitigation approach against claims of sexual harassment amongst students. One school (the first to do so) brought it in as they had one incident where a student was hugged by another student and it was considered to be unwanted by the huggee and then the parents made it all sound worse than it should be and the child that did the hugging was essentially ostracised by teachers, students AND parents (not their own of course, their own parents were peeved as hell).

      I actually wonder whether a lot of our problems today is that we’re taking too strict of an approach with kids. We can’t let our kids be kids and run about because society doesn’t appreciate that (even though it was commonplace nearly 2 decades ago, man that makes me feel old).

    • Philip says:

      08:37am | 02/11/12

      Forty five years ago, when I was at Primary School, we almost had hugging banned.
      The type of hugging we did was to get someone to hyperventilate then squeeze their chest (like in a hug). This would cause the person to collapse by depriving their brain of blood and oxygen.
      Don’t assume every rule has a restrictive purpose.

    • Chris says:

      10:00am | 02/11/12

      Detention? Who cares. If your reasons for scoring one are cool with your folks, then the punishment is simply to endure a little bit of boredom.
      Girls go through the hugging fad just like anything else. In 3 months it will be kisses on the cheek instead. Yes, they overdo it. It’s over the top. Some people are excluded… but it’s no different from being the kid who’s parents won’t buy them a yo-yo at ‘the right time’. By Xmas that thing is old hat and not even worth unwrapping.

    • chuck says:

      11:55am | 02/11/12

      Yeah ban hugging especially strange kids (perhaps even your own grand kids), you might end up on a police file!

    • SKA says:

      12:10pm | 02/11/12

      When I was in late high school, we had a ‘6 inch rule’ - that is no physical contact within 6 inches of eachother. Seemed to only apply to contact between those of opposite sex. The main point I gather was to stop the teenage boys and girls getting it on in the playground. No issues with hugs between same sex… and that said, any hugs between those of opposite sex that were clearly just friendly, brief and not anything more were never punished, and typically ignored by teachers. It is getting a bit over-the-top all the business of banning contact - these kids are in primary school, it’s good for them to show affection like this. What kind of cold society are we becoming?

    • youdy beaudy says:

      01:59pm | 02/11/12

      Seems to me that we all got here by some type of hugging or touchy feely thingies. But, those who don’t like hugging maybe their parents had to make an appointment. I wouldn’t be surprised.!

    • The Proud Profession says:

      02:24pm | 02/11/12

      A genuine teacher concerned for children’s psychological well-being would not even contemplate such a cruel dictate

    • Lorraine says:

      02:36pm | 02/11/12

      Who are these non-huggers?
      Is their aim to have our children live in a world were there is no love, no compassion, no charity, no thought for any other human being, a life of complete isolation from others?
      I hope I live long enough to hear the Government Apology for this one.


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