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Ban touching in school?

NEWS FACT: Hal Beaulieu (boh-LYEW) was only doing what boyfriends do. But when the 13-year-old put his arm around his girlfriend in the cafeteria last spring, he was sent to the office. The problem? Kilmer Middle School in Vienna, Virginia, has a strict no-touching rule. School officials say that the rule is necessary to keep the hallways and cafeteria of an overcrowded school safe and orderly.

Across the country, students, parents, and school officials are debating what kind of touching is "inappropriate." Kilmer principal Deborah Fernandez defends her school's no-touching rule. She has seen "playful" pokes turn into fights, she told The Washington Post. Also, many girls are uncomfortable when boys hug them, but are afraid to say anything. "You have to have an absolute rule with students," Fernandez said.

But Hal Beaulieu believes that a complete no-touching rule is unfair. "I think you should be able to shake hands, high-five, and maybe a quick hug," he told The Post. Hal's father has asked the Fairfax County School Board to review the no-touching rule.

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What Do You Think?

Should touching be banned in schools?

(YES) Kilmer principal Deborah Hernandez says that all students need to have their personal space protected. Some lack maturity to understand what is acceptable in a school setting. "You get into shades of gray," Hernandez recently told a reporter. "The kids sag, 'If he can high-five, then I can do this.'"

Cailin MacLean, 11, a sixth-grader at Tuckahoe Middle School in Richmond, Virginia, says a no-touching rule might be a good thing for some students. "Touching anyone in a weird way, that shouldn't be allowed," she tells JS. "With handshakes and high-fives, that's fine for me," she adds.

Mac Price, 11, from Georgetown, Kentucky, also believes that such rules are sometimes necessary. "I think touching should be banned," says the sixth-grader from Georgetown Middle School. "Some people feel uncomfortable when being touched."

(NO) "In middle school, we are at our growing stage where we like to give high-fives, and we hug each other," sags Abbie Long, 11, a sixth-grader at Georgetown Middle School. "My friends hug me all the time. It is just what we do."

Abbie's classmate, Arlando Morris, 11, agrees. "If you see your friend in the hallway while switching classes, you may want to shake hands or bump knuckles," he tells JS. "Also, some people may hug their friends or play around in gym as a sign of appreciation."

Guner Albertson, 11, also at Georgetown, thinks that only kids who touch inappropriately should be punished. "They will learn from their mistakes," Guner sags. "Let us be kids--we'll learn!"

"When you touch or high-five, it's a way of showing you're happy," sags Guner's classmate, Ashley Conley, 12. "Usually, when you come in harmless physical contact with your friends it makes you have a stronger bond."
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Title Annotation:Debate
Publication:Junior Scholastic
Date:Nov 12, 2007
Words:473
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