New teacher...wondering would you ever say this to a student?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by misswright, Jul 23, 2007.

  1. misswright

    misswright New Member

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    I am a first year teacher and will begin this fall. I will be teaching mostly sophomores and a few seniors in high school. Anyway, I have a 'mentor' teacher who I can go to for help. I talked to her on the phone a few weeks ago and she seemed very nice. She and I met for lunch today at her suggestion. She seems like a great and very intelligent teacher. We went to a restuarant and she saw a former student. About halfway through lunch this former student (I'm not sure if she graduated or is still in the school) came up to us. She told my mentor teacher she was still her favorite teacher. My mentor teacher hugged the girl and warmly told her that she loved her. I was in shock. All my training and education schooling told me never to hug a student let alone ever say something like that to a student. I tried very hard to mask my shock but I guess it must have showed because after the student left the teacher asked me if something was wrong. I know I shouldn't have said anything but I just said "aren't you afraid that hugging a student could get you into trouble?" but she just laughed and said that nearly no one follows the "don't get attached to your students" rule. She said the girl was one of her favorites and that once I begin my career I will see there are certain students I will feel very attached to. I don't want to be the next news story or anything. I don't believe that this teacher, or most other teachers for that matter, had bad intentions but I would be more afraid of the way other adults interpreted it. I guess it's hard to say that you'd never hug a student. But would you ever seriously tell a student that you love them??
     
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  3. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    I hug almost all of my ex students and if they say they love
    me they get it in return. I also hugged many of my 5th graders
    goodbye this year as they are moving on to middle school.
     
  4. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    I would feel uncomfortable huging my students, I guess it is just the way I am.
     
  5. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    Well, I have taught forever and teach many children of kids
    that I have taught. I also work in an elementary setting as
    the pe coach and get umpteen hugs a day (they love the coach).
    Very different from middle or HS.
     
  6. chicagoturtle

    chicagoturtle Fanatic

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    I hug my students and let them sit on my lap etc, but I try to block kisses and tell them "we save our kisses for mommy and daddy." I have students grab me at my chest sometimes, but they're four, they don't know the difference. I try to block these too, but sometimes my reflexes aren't the best. I do toileting too, but I usually make sure the door is cracked and there is someone else in the room. I help them wipe their backside, but make them wipe their front side (except in very unsual circumstances). If they can change themsevles, they do. If they can't I help. I teach special ed pre-k though.
     
  7. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    We had this discussion in one of my methods classes last spring. The general consensus was that you have to be very careful about how and where you do public displays of affection, such as hugs. Most primary elementary teachers will get and give tons of hugs to/from their students, and no one will think twice about it. Generally, male teachers have to be more circumspect than female teachers, which is unfair, but unfortunately the way it is. My class came to the conclusion that any PDAs (Public Displays of Affection) must be done openly and very publicly, and that they must be as generic as possible, so that no one gets the idea that more is going on than actually is. It is the sad state that our country has become so litigious and suspicious of each other.
     
  8. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Little kids say they love you all the time. They spend most of their waking hours with you so it's natural to form an attachment. High school I would imagine being quite different but my mom teaches high school and her kids hug her, especially at graduation.

    I kissed one of my kids on the forehead once. It wasn't planned and I was kind of shocked that I did it and I was very glad the principal was in the room. The student's mother had died when he was in second grade and that day was the one year anniversary of her death. He came in crying and I gave him a hug and a peck on the forehead and told him I loved him. I didn't think about it- just did it, but I was in "school mom" mode. We talked a little bit and he went on to have as normal a day as is possible with that kind of heartache following him around.
     
  9. misswright

    misswright New Member

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    Well if she (my mentor teacher) was an elementary school teacher I don't think many people would question her. But we're high school teachers and isn't that getting into a sticky situation? I mean I don't know exactly how old the girl was but she couldn't have been younger than 16 and not older than 18. Maybe I don't know because I have yet to have my own classroom. Maybe after this year I'll feel differently. Honestly, if it were up to me I'd probably see no problem with it. There was definitely nothing inappropriate about the hug or the way she told the student that she loved her. It was parental if I had to describe it...But the world we live in today is so suspicious...Am I being naive? The mentor teacher was telling me when I start teaching I'll have a few students who I'll grow to love because I'm human and I won't be able to help it and I'll see that most teachers are like this with their students. But honestly, even if I am I think I would be terrified of the repercussions if I told a student that I loved them. Am I wrong?
     
  10. Educate Me

    Educate Me New Member

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    I have a no touching policy with my students. Even if they want to give me a high five, I usually touch elbows. You never know where their hands have been and when they last washed them. As for telling a student that I love them...I would avoid that. These are my personal opinions and others may feel differently.
     
  11. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    I've been teaching high school for over a decade. I tell my students I love them all of the time, and I hug them, too!
     
  12. teachingmomof4

    teachingmomof4 Groupie

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    My students tell me that they love me. I just tell them thank you. THey also hug me to no end...I let them. They are little and need that extra affection.
     
  13. srh

    srh Devotee

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    I am also careful, but Kinders tend to hug a lot! While I strongly believe in exercising caution in this area, it would just be unnatural NOT to give a hug here and there. Some students are very "hands off" and some are very affectionate. Occasionally I have to say, "Okay, guys, that's enough!" because they tend to do what someone else does. But there are almost always other adults in our room, and it's not constant--it's usually during coming and going from vacation times, birthdays, or something like that.

    It's also considered unprofessional to hug in the workplace--but I have been on both the giving and receiving end of hugs in the office when life has just taken a toll. It's very human to want to support and express care to someone. It's just that with students, we have to be SO careful.
     
  14. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I would have thought nothing of it. IF I did, it would have been a fleeting, oh, that's sweet and that's all.
     
  15. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    There are teachers at my school who tell their students that they love them. It makes me uncomfortable and I would never do it except in a "Hey, I love you guys! You're awesome!" sort of way to the entire class. I would never single out a student to tell them that I loved them.

    With that having been said, I do hug my students when they initiate it.

    One thing I always make sure is that I'm never alone with a student in a closed room. I always prop the door open whenever I'm working with a student one-on-one. I'd hate for anyone to think for even a second that there was any impropriety going on.
     
  16. ayotte04

    ayotte04 Comrade

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    I agree with alot of what's been mentioned. It's very different for elementary teachers, which you are not. The hugging thing...is best when initiated by students and in public. I can understand how the I love you would come out, but just my personality I wouldn't say it individually. Like Cassie mentioned, to the whole class I would, especially when they crack me up.

    As a new teacher I strongly recommend the "open-door" when working one-on-one with a student, regardless of if they are male or female. We did that when I was in the military and I think it's very professional. ...often, that's why when applicable, I think it's good to have your desk near the door, as in...when you pass outside the room, you can see the teacher's desk....

    that was a nice run-on sentence don't you think?
     
  17. IRAEnglishT-chr

    IRAEnglishT-chr Rookie

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    This is definitely situational. If you don't feel comfortable saying "I love you" to students, then don't say it! If they say it to you, say, "Thank you! You know you're one of my favorite students, too!" or something equally generic.

    I don't know what to tell you about hugs, though! If you teach in high school you likely won't have to worry about it, but if you're an elementary teacher you almost HAVE to give hugs!

    It also depends a lot on your school, community, and your own personality. I am very touched by the circumstances in my students' lives...it's difficult not to care and not to show excitement over milestones achieved when you know a child has worked so very hard to do something! It's also difficult to know a child for years and not offer a hug when they lose a member of their family or don't win the spelling bee they studied months for!

    I have known teachers who come into class and are all business. You have to decide for yourself what kind of teacher you want to be. Neither is necessarily wrong!

    Just be true to yourself and don't do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable!
     
  18. MsWK

    MsWK Habitué

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    I kiss, hug, and tell many of my children I love them. They are 0-3, and the most wonderful children on earth, so it's kind-of hard not to.

    I think the parents would be upset if I DIDN'T do that. Of course, I realize HS is different.
     
  19. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    Yes, in teacher training they talk about that. I remember in my law class, the instructor made us say, "second semester fourth grade girls" over and over, because that was when you had to stop hugging them! Well, I still hug them! I am affectionate with the kids, but have never kissed them.


    My kids will write I love in you a card, or something. It's pretty common. I had one incident, where there was this trouble maker in my class, but he was just awesome in every other way. It was really a challenge to bring him around from his goofiness. I remember one day in class, he was talking non-stop during a meeting, but really making these great points. I had to stop him, and he looked at me so disapointed, even though it was him that was doing the blurting out. Well, I resonded, in one of those, I'm sorry ways, "I love you, Nick" and the class, when "Oh! What?" I had to explain that I loved all of them... etc. It was interesting!

    I did have an incident, with this girl (also a little troubled in other ways) who I had for two years. She had this really affluent family, and they were NEVER home, left her with babysitters, etc. She really needed therapy and had very low self-esteem. Her mother came by after school one day, and it came up how I really wanted her to have someone to talk to... I started to well up! Oh my god... I was so embarressed. Talk about unprofessional! But, I know it's because I love the kid!
     
  20. mhcooley

    mhcooley Companion

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    If a child tells me they love me then I tell them I love them back. I also hug my students. I think it would be different with higher grades but little ones need affection.
     
  21. lowiq

    lowiq Rookie

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    As a football and wrestling coach, I used to wrestle with my students for practice - if there was an odd number of team members. Nowdays I would not do that because there are girls on the wrestling team that want to wrestle me!
     
  22. ValinFW

    ValinFW Comrade

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    My 8th graders...the girls, mostly...tell me they love me all the time. I say it right back to them. I'll hug them if it doesn't seem inappropriate. Trust your instincts.
     
  23. flesteach

    flesteach Rookie

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    Hugs

    Hug them! Of course, use caution. Sadly, that may be the only hug they get that day. Some students need that affection and acceptance. I feel that if they aren't getting it at home, I am the next best (and safest) thing. We have gangs in our elementary school. In my "save the world" mentality, I want to keep as many of them on this side as possible.
     
  24. Sweet2Teach

    Sweet2Teach Rookie

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    :wub: I am not a "huggy" person, but if my children want a hug I will hug them. When I student taught in 5th grade I made sure to side hug, especially with boys. Now I teach Kindergarten and I still keep precaution in my mind, but I can't imagine not giving students the thing that they may need and crave from adults. Can you imagine a world in which "hugging" is considered inappropriate??:eek: It sounds cold to me:(
     
  25. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I can also imagine a world where teachers are fired and arrested all the time for inappropriate relationships with students. I think it's best to maintain a safe distance.
     
  26. teacherkasey

    teacherkasey Cohort

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    I don't think I would hug a high school student unless it was initiated by the student... and like another poster mentioned, I would do the "side hug" kinda arm on the shoulder thing.

    But I work in a preschool and hugging is something that happens all the time. As a matter of fact, there is a little girl in our toddler classroom who will not leave unless I walk her out to mom's truck. She runs in my office, jumps up on my lap, and clings to me. Mom and I have tried getting her to walk to the car, but she has a death grip on me!

    I feel lcuky that I am the director and have that special relationship with all of the kids in my center. I feel honored and parents love it when they see their little ones feel comfortable enough with their teachers to hug them:hugs: !
     
  27. srh

    srh Devotee

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    Yes, there is a difference in teaching Pre-K, Kinder, First, etc. and high school. Perhaps if the younger set got the hugs they craved and needed in the early years, helping them understand "good hugs and touches," they wouldn't be so vulnerable to those few teachers who prey on them. Just a thought.
     
  28. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    I teach elementary and I hug all my students, my husband is a high school teacher and I have seen him hug a student on occasion. Once was when he had four kids (1 boy and 3 girls) that worked hard all year to win a national title, when they won the girls jumped up and hugged him than me. Neither one of us thought anything of it. But keep in mind he spends a lot of time, more than a regular classroom teacher with these kids. We get invitation to graduation parties, weddings, and baby showers. These kids call us from college when things are tough. When my son was small (2-5 years old) two of my husband's students would come and pick him up to take to the Sonic with them. I never thought to say he couldn't go.

    My husband is an Ag Instructor, so he has had most of these kids from 8th grade up and has been a big part of their lives since they were 9 years old. They are a big part of our lives.
     
  29. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    I think high school kids need just as much positive, appropriate displays of affection as the little ones. Most of my kids are over the age of 17, and for some of them, it's been a LOOOOONG time since an adult has told them, "I love you." They are sometimes too embarrassed to say it to their parents, but they'll say it to us. If we model for them how to be a caring, loving adult and how to have a mature healthy relationship with someone older, maybe they'll transfer that to their own homes.
     
  30. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I don't know that I have ever said the words, "I love you", but my students have certainly known that I do (" See, I told you she loves us!"). I am a "touchy" person--lots of hands on shoulders, pats on the back, and hugs when they are initiated. My first principal (whom I didn't have much respect for) told me that I should never touch a student--the day I need to follow that advice is the day that I quit.
     
  31. apple25

    apple25 Comrade

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    I think use a combination of your gut and your common sense. I think it is really important to be careful not to put yourself in situations where a student can make up stories . . . unfortuantly there are students out there that will do that just to see if they can get you into trouble. . . I think that an open door policy should be standard for all teachers.

    But I think too that sometimes life can be hard for students, and sometimes a hug is exactly what the student needs to know that you care. I teach mostly grade 7 and 8 (in a consolidated school) and don't give out hugs as a general rule, but have a couple of times to students that have poured out their hearts to me.

    We went through a tragedy last year, when a student of mine was suddenly killed in an accident. He was very well liked - it's a small community and everyone came together. There was a lot of crying and a lot of hugs. I realized how important it is to let the kids know that you like them, and want the best for them. Yes - teaching is a job, but you do give some of your heart away. Hugs show how much you care.

    So it's a tough one - I don't know that there is a hard and fast rule for it, and I think using caution is the way to go, but not to be afraid to show emotion - we are human after all, and school is all about learning how to survive in the real world.
     
  32. Sweet2Teach

    Sweet2Teach Rookie

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    Honestly if I got fired because of a hug, so be it. I never hug my kids the way I hug my child, nor do I just hug my kids to hug them. If they come up and hug me, I do reciprocate the hug. I can not imagine saying "Oh I am sorry, I can't hug you because I might get fired!" Oh well, I believe in myself enough to be ok with that:whistle:
     
  33. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    I agree with the poster who said "Trust your instincts". I think you will be able to perceive if it's uncomfortable for you or the student. Even as a Kinder teacher I don't initiate hugs with my kids. If they come over and hug me, I'm not going to push them away and there are times they get very emotional and in those circumstances I may be more affectionate. But as many times as they say "I love you" my response is always "thank you". I feel very uncomfortable telling a child that's not mine that I love them. But that's just me. You have to do what your comfortable with.
     
  34. collteach

    collteach Comrade

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    Honestly, it is very sad that anyone has to worry about giving a child a hug or an "I love you". For many of our students, whether they are 4 years old or 18 years old, we might be the only ones that really care. I teach 4th grade, and I don't mind hugging my students if they initiate the hug. I also really encourage them to do a "side" hug. I had one student this year who was MUCH too touchy, and I had to speak to him and his mother about it on many occasions. I truly think that he looked at me as another mom, but I had to be sure he understood that it wasn't appropriate to touch his teachers constantly.
     
  35. MisterG

    MisterG Comrade

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    I guess Id be more concerned with physical touching with a younger age group. With older kids, you can hug or whatever if there is that ...relationship or whatever...for lack of a better term.

    When I taught K...I had to teach my kids about that stuff...it was rough as those little buggers love hugging.

    I dont let kids sit on my lap or anything near that. ALthough I do pat their back or rub their head...or even do a one arm hug.

    Colleges preach lots of stuff that, in all reality, is simply not true in the Real World. I think the kids need to get a pat on teh back or a high five or something...just to make a connection with the teacher.
     
  36. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    Yep, almost an unwritten rule in the job description.

    "Supevises and directly interacts with children in a warm and positive manner."

    "the employee must occasionally lift and move up to 30 lbs."

    This could be a cot, chair, but usually refers to picking up and hugging a child who is in distress.
     
  37. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    Changing times...but feelings don't change

    As a ECE professional, this has been part of my job. I have worked with kids up to eighth grade. And I hug them too. And yes, I tell them I love them. That brightens their day. I believe it and they do too!

    If you see in my early post, it is practically in the teacher job description.

    With the usual concerns: ringworm, scabbies, lice and the common cold, I have just accepted this, and try to get over it. :eek: My kids come up to me all the time and give me hugs. And yes, I hug back. I have tried to step back, and turn my head when kisses come my way, but it always met with bad vibes from the whole school! In most jobs I've held showing affection is expected, and it is considered rude when you reject them.

    When I worked in L.A. I noticed many ethnic groups are more touch-feely than others. I was met every morning by parents who hugged and kissed (on the lips) other parents and teachers! This was just something I DID not do. I reserve my kissing for my immediately family members and personal acquantiances (boyfriend or husband) This is just my belief. I caught more h*ll from parents who stood there, waiting to kiss me, and I held out my hand! That just literally got me fired, because this culture believes in affection, and the Parent Committee said 'that teacher does not hug and kiss me or my kids!' And that wrote me out of a job exit interview, 'does not interact with children or parents when appropriate.'
     
  38. misswright

    misswright New Member

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    These are all very good points and I know that some things taught in college just don't really apply to the real world. I don't think I'd push a kid away if they initiated the hug. But while the kid did come up to us and tell my mentor teacher she was her favorite my mentor teacher initiated the hug (and hugged her like it was her own child), told the girl she loved her and said "you know you're my favorite too." I'm not trying to say anything inappropriate was going on. It wasn't. This teacher really cares about this girl. It was very sweet and she really seems like a great teacher. I feel very lucky that she's my mentor. I'm not scoffing at this or looking down on it in anyway. I thought it was very nice *but* I'm just wondering, as a teacher, isn't this a situation to fear? I would be so afraid of so many different things. 1. Someone seeing and claiming an inappropriate relationship (and I was there and I saw it wasn't really anything bad *but* you know how some people are...) 2. Someone seeing and claiming favoritism (which it was but even though I'm a new teacher I still know that it will probably be quite impossible not to have favorites because it's just human to like some people better than others). It's sad that we have to worry about stuff like this, but the reality of the situation is that it's still an issue isn't it? I don't know...
     
  39. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    I think if it looks like a rat and smells like a rat, it probably is. That being said, if a 12 year old boy hugged me in church, I am okay. If the same 12 year old boy tried to walk up and really hug me every day in school, we would have a talk.

    I always try to stand near the door and not go all the way inside the boys bathroom, when I work with kids older than 5. This is just the day and time we are living in. The worse thing that can happen is for some kid to say, "Mommy/Daddy, teacher touched me!"

    But if they have the runs, and won't let you clean their little behinds, all you can do is call home, and sit them in the corner somewhere, so they won't mess up the whole room.

    That being said, and considering you work with older children, if you have serious issues hugging, touching, or showing any type of affection towards children...this may be another issue for you entirely. They tell you a lot of things in school that just really don't apply to the real world. Having a love for kids is just automatically part of the job.
     
  40. January_Violet

    January_Violet Comrade

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    Jul 27, 2007

    I've said it and the longer you teach, especially in elementary, you will say it too. I've even said it to MS students. You just don't go saying it to everyone..but it's no harm if their isn't malicious intent.
     
  41. January_Violet

    January_Violet Comrade

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    You are right..kids love the coach.. I still remember Mrs. Bryant...she was great.:lol:


     

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