Lifestyle & Belief

Australia: elementary school students protest ban on hugs, high-5s


Australian schoolboys compete in an inter-school football match on May 19, 2012.



Students at an Australian elementary school have staged a schoolyard protest over a ban on hugging, playing tag and giving each other high-fives.

The new no-contact policy at Mt Martha Primary School in the southern state of Victoria also outlaws soccer, touching and hugging, as well as basketball, football and chasing games, according to the Herald Sun.

The ban has already been labeled "crazy," "ridiculous" and "unbelievable" by parents, who also claimed they had not been told directly of the new rule but rather learned of it through their kids.

And the Year 6 students staged a sit-down protest on the school oval at lunchtime before ordered into the school gym for "a dressing down," The Age newspaper quoted parents as saying.

Meanwhile, the Herald Sun cited school principal Judy Beckworth as saying the ban was aimed at cutting back the number of schoolyard injuries, and only meant to last a week.

"I don't believe this is taking it too far and this is not an overreaction," she said, adding that recent injuries had included a broken collarbone, broken wrists and concussion.

"When you have students badly injuring themselves, it would be unacceptable for me not to take action.

"Parents will relate to this — you sometimes need to do these common sense things to get the message through to kids.

"Of course sport and games are an important part of school life and it will be business as usual next week."

However, 3AW radio cited a parent, Nicole, as saying that the school's problem lay with "upper ranks."

"[The principal] seems to have lost a grip on the best way to run a school," she said.

"We don't have any respect for her whatsoever as a result of these Draconian measures that she's brought in."