Beating the Drum on Hugs

Beating the Drum

'We … are creating a world that is afraid to show affection'

By Beverly Blanchard
True North Perspective
Beverly Blanchard is an Ojibway First Nation from Northern Ontario. She holds a degree in Economics. During the last twenty-two years, she has worked as a consultant to First Nation and Inuit organizations in a variety of disciplines including: homelessness, suicide prevention, violence prevention, childcare, HIV/AIDS, women’s issues, business planning, and economic development. She has also designed and delivered Aboriginal awareness and stress management workshops to Federal government employees. Currently, Ms Blanchard is a life strategy coach, author and energy healer in Ottawa.

  Rebels with arms. Image: detail of photo by ANDREW FRANCIS WALLACE/TORONTO STAR.

15 June 2012 — When is hugging considered detrimental to a child’s safety and well-being? Apparently in a Brampton senior elementary school it has been labeled as inappropriate by the powers that be and now we have students fighting for the right to hug. Yes, fighting for the right to show love and affection!

Last week two students in a Brampton school were reprimanded for hugging and told they could be suspended. Yes, a show of affection toward another student in time of need and it results in an absurd reprimand. Is this the new definition for criminal behaviour?

Even worse is the school’s motto that has been bantered around by the teachers to enforce their zero tolerance policy on touching. Now here is a catchy little phrase for you...‘No loving or shoving.’ It is a very dangerous little mantra and appears to equate loving with being hurt.

What are we teaching our children when we use a motto that includes the words, ‘no loving’ in it? What are we telling them? Love is bad. Love is a terrible thing. Now if Sigmund Freud was alive today, he would probably suggest that the individuals who devised this phrase have some unconscious sexual issues. They have projected their fear of touching another human being and have associated hugs with the sex act.

To me the powers that be are tarnishing a beautiful word. They are suggesting that showing affection to someone is wrong. Hugging someone in their time of need is wrong. Caring is wrong. Showing love is wrong. In essence, they are telling the students that they need to fear a simple human gesture. We are moving down a very precarious path when we accept these teachings from our educational institutions.

I get it that some people do not like to be hugged. I get it that some people think that hugs should be reserved for embraces in the bedroom or for those moments when we are in funeral homes. Quick hug and a cold embrace to say we care. Are these the model behaviours we want to pass onto the next generations?

Hugging has been proven to offer significant emotional and intellectual benefits to those that give and receive them. Hugging can lift depression. It can improve the immune system. It can strengthen relationships and reduce fiction. It can reduce cruelty and violence. Hugs bring us closer together. Studies have even shown that without hugs and affection children do not grow and thrive.

Perhaps we should allow these policy makers to develop rules for the affection that is shown in sports. Watch any hockey, football or soccer game and what do we see? Men who pat each other’s backside, jump into each other’s arms and kiss each other with abandoned glee when they win the game or score a goal. Are these behaviours considered inappropriate touching?

In a society that is replete with bullying, mental health issues and suicides, shouldn’t we be teaching our youth how to care? How to hug? How to love? No instead we come up with bogus phrases and campaigns so we can say we are dealing with the issues. Sadly we aren’t dealing with anything and are creating a world that is afraid to show affection.

They say that what goes around comes around. Perhaps these teachers should think of that law when they are reciting their mantra which begins with the phrase ‘no loving’. One day they will be occupying a bed in a retirement home and their caretaker will be a product of their teachings. No loving!

Hugging is a simple embrace has the potential to change a life and our world. Anyone want a hug? I am giving them away with no strings attached!

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