School officials gave Megan Coulter, a 13-year-old student in Mascoutah (IL, US) two days of detention for hugging other students at school. School administrators considered Ms. Coulter’s hugging a violation of policy banning public displays of affection. So, when’s a hug a hug and when’s a hug a PDA?
According to Scott Wuerz and Rickeena J. Richards, writing in the Bellsville (IL, US) News-Democrat, Superintendent Sam McGowen can tell the difference.
School student Megan Coulter was warned twice about public displays of affection before she was punished Friday for hugging two students.
“The first instance came at a basketball game a week ago,” McGowen said. “And believe me, it was much more than just hugging.”
Of course, I wasn’t present to see the events, and it’s hard to get the unbiased facts from the news reports. I have to wonder if Superintendent McGowen observed the events. The school administrators have a vested interest in making the things look one way (“believe me”), and others may have interests in making them look differently. There’s also a tribe-like nature to school administration: “One of us made this judgment, and now we’re going to stick to it.” (It’s often closely related to the way some folks interact with children: “It’s my way or the highway.”)
Meanwhile, we could make quite a list of examples to examine when a hug’s a hug and when it isn’t:
- A school sports team wins a championship and the student-players embrace each other.
- A student who has slipped and fallen on a patch of ice stands up, crying, and another student comforts her.
- A student whom other students know is receiving intensive medical treatment returns to school for the first time in two weeks and other students rush to greet him.