Tuesday, December 27, 2005

LA area school bans and human contact between students

Oh. My. God. Why not just ban breathing while they're at it?

(LATimes) Matthew Almodovar likes holding his girlfriend's hand during lunch or when they're walking to class. But at Culver City Middle School, that display of affection could land the couple in trouble.

At the only public middle school in Culver City, it is against school policy for students to hold hands, hug or kiss on campus. Perhaps more important, the "no contact" rule also prohibits students from hitting, shoving or pushing classmates.

Schools nationwide have policies to prevent violence and sexual harassment, but some go further — such as creating a rule against touching. In March, one middle school student in Bend, Ore., was sent to detention after repeatedly defying a teacher's warning to refrain from hugging another student. A similar situation occurred at a junior high in Euless, Texas, in 2003.

Many educators say the policy teaches students what is — and isn't — appropriate behavior at school, which they say is especially important during the middle school years. What's OK at the mall or the movies, some educators say, isn't necessarily OK at school, where the focus should be on academics.

This is absolutely retarded. I really think that you have to go to graduate school, perhaps even get a PhD, to think up regulations this moronic. Here's a revolutionary thought... if you want to prohibit hitting, shoving and pushing, why not ban hitting, shoving, and pushing? Sure they don't want the kids making out in the hallways, so why not tell the kids don't make out in the hallways? Why do they have to ban all contact? How about we just put all the kids nice plastic bubbles that way no one gets touched. And what about human contact as positive reinforcement? Can you pat the kid on the back? Can the kids give each other high fives (or whatever other congratualtory bumping, shaking, or clapping is popular these days)? Sure school administrators put these rules in place to help kids, but do they ever think of the unintended negative consequences. Positive reinforcement is in many instances a more powerful motivator than punishment or other negative reinforcements. No human contact is just a horrible idea. Need more reasons?

[...] Some students said it was their understanding that all hugs, even between friends, were banned; others said they believed only contact between boyfriends and girlfriends was forbidden. (Administrators say hugging between friends is permitted.)

"We can't touch each other. We couldn't even do this," eighth-grader Brenda Esquivel said as she put her arm around a friend's shoulder.

During a recent lunch, various couples on campus were holding hands; most declined to talk to a reporter, fearing they would get in trouble.

If Assistant Principal Hiram Celis saw them, they'd get an earful.

"When I'm out there and see something inappropriate, I'll let them know. I don't think parents know they have boyfriends and girlfriends," he said, adding that he believes holding hands could "lead to more intimate situations."

Ahh. The kids don't know exactly what is and isn't banned. That's not going to help. Oh, and don't forget that holding hands "could lead to more intimate situations." That's right... because there's a huge link between holding hands and middle school kids having sex. Are we trying to prevent the kids from feeling any emotions whatsoever? We overdiagnose ADD and then overprescribe Ridillin to keep kids from being overly excited. Then we ban name calling so kids don't get their feelings hurt, that way they are emotionally unequipped to deal with emotional pain (kids can be really mean. They ought to be able to learn how to deal with being called a 'wuss' by some other kid. Banning it won't solve that). Now all physical contact is banned so that kids can't get the excited feeling of that secret kiss (no making out, but no holding hands either?), or the comraderie and sportsmanship after a success in a game on the playground (what... are they just going to jump up and down, yelling without actually touching each other?), or the satisfaction and self-esteem gained after confronting a bully by standing up for yourself or others (yes, even if it means pushing or hitting the bully). Are we trying to create A Brave New World where everyone is at a constant drugged up emotional state with no highs and no lows? How about 1984 where they can't even say good and bad (plus, double plus), let alone any excitable, joyous words or actions for fear of discrimination or causing emotional pain to another?

Inconsistency in enforcing the policy could undermine it, said Paul Chung, assistant professor of pediatrics at UCLA who also works at the UCLA/Rand Center for Adolescent Health Promotion.

"When you're trying to extinguish a behavior, the trick is to be absolutely consistent so that every time the behavior is experienced, they get knocked down…. They know they're never going to get away with it," he said.

Michael Carr, a spokesman for the National Assn. of Secondary School Principals, said the assumption that holding hands would lead to sexual behavior was far-fetched.

"At some point, they're going to hold hands. If they don't do it in the building, they'll do it at the mall or going home or at the ice-skating rink," Carr said. "You're not going to stop hand-holding. You're going to have to teach them what's appropriate so that when they're faced with a choice, they make the appropriate choice."

That's it! That's it! That's it! You actually have to teach them what's appropriate, meaning they need to be taught a value system, which totally goes against the moral relativism of the liberal teacher's unions. A value system might resemble something akin to a religion which of course has to be separated from all government programs. All this presents a very slippery slope if you're a liberal. Personal freedom can be a bitch. It might lead to kids hilding hands, or someone saying "God bless you", or someone (gasp!) choosing to smoke a cigarette. We can't have that now can we. Thank God kids are resiliant, and they do say the darndest things...

[...] Still, she said she and her friends didn't take the policy seriously.

"Kids were making fun of it," she said.

Even today, the rule causes some laughter.

At the end of a recent lunch period, eighth-grader Erica West left the table for a minute. When she returned, she bumped into a friend, and said, "Oh, no contact, no contact."

Both girls laughed.

Well done kids. Nothing gets through to stupid adults like well done satire.