Principal/teacher hugging students

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by MamaGramma6, Jan 25, 2011.

  1. MamaGramma6

    MamaGramma6 New Member

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    Jan 25, 2011

    Hi all, I am new to this site and decided it is the perfect forum to ask this question. I am a parent of a 9 year old girl who went to visit the principal's office on her birthday (as is the common practice at this school). She came to me and said, "Mr.---- said I have a choice between 9 whoopins or a 'hug of love'." Naturally she chose the 'hug of love' and said he squeezed her so hard her back cracked and it hurt her. She was not injured but I got a VERY uneasy feeling as this was being told to me and she didn't seem pleased with the event either. I asked my 7 year old son if he got a hug from the principal on his birthday and he said no. I will be asking other parents at the school how they feel about this but I am clearly bothered. Any suggestions on how this can be delicately handled will be appreciated. I want my children to be safe at school.
     
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  3. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    I don't think that this is common practice at most schools...we do not do this at my school. I think it just might be something with the principal. I would call the principal and let him know what your daughter said and how uncomfortable you both were. Hopefully, he will be sincere.
     
  4. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    That's weird. I'd keep an eye on this principal and start asking a lot of nosy questions. And I also would not be concerned about handling it "delicately" either.

    I teach first grade, and I never initiate any hugs of any sort. I prefer students do not hug me.

    And make sure your daughter knows that "neither" is the option she should choose and will not get in trouble for choosing it.
     
  5. SPECIALEDMAN

    SPECIALEDMAN Companion

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    A tough situation that no teacher or principal (especially male) should put themselves in. I know that elementary students are very loving but you can’t accidentally become accustomed to touching the kids. It may be completely innocent.


    I’ll never forget the look on my daughters middle school soccer coaches face when all the girls attacked him with hugs after winning the county championship game. He stood there in the middle of the field with his arms straight out from his body and never touched one girl! It was so funny.
     
  6. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    That would definitely make me uncomfortable as well! And I agree with the other poster that said neither option should be chosen. I know the P at my daughter's school doesn't hug students at all.
     
  7. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    The word that comes to mind is "creepy".
     
  8. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Entirely inappropriate with a male P. If you go to talk to the P, take a witness with you.
     
  9. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    My P does hug students as do all of the teachers. I understand the hesitation but I also think it depends on the culture of the school. As far as hugging one student but not another, I can see that situation coming up too if the P just happened to cross paths and noticed it was that child's b-day and wanted to make a big deal out of it at the moment. Now if this P NEVER really does this and all of a sudden does it for the one child or if the P doesn't do it for both genders at least occasionally (doesn't have to be all the time), then you would need to worry more.

    It does, however, seem kind of odd though that the children are on purpose sent for this and there isn't some kind of consistent response. THAT would send more of a red flag with this than the hug alone.
     
  10. cruiserteacher

    cruiserteacher Comrade

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    I think the comment, in and of itself, is very strange. A child shouldn't have to "choose" something like that. Where was the "choice" of a high five or a simple "Happy Birthday"? You are right to be uncomfortable and want to investigate more.
     
  11. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    I hug kids. i hugged kids when I taught littles, and I hug my big ol' 19 year old students I have now, and all ages in between. However, I only hug if initiated by the student, and only in a public area of the school.

    At the school where I previously worked, some of the older teachers would jokingly give students that option on their birthdays. Some would just pretend, but not actually spank, to give a birthday spanking, and then give the kids a pencil or something. I never did it cause it's not part of my culture but it was a big part of the culture at that school, and expected.
     
  12. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    On the way out of my classroom every day, kids can choose to have a hug, a handshake, a high five or just say goodbye, if they want... Most choose the hug...a bunch of about 6 girls has started a group hug option and I nearly get bowled over every day...my kids from last year sneak on to the end of the line sometimes as well.

    The principal story though? Icky.
     
  13. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Like others, I only hug a child if they initiate it. I have a male principal, who gets a lot of hugs, but he never asks for them!
     
  14. luckyal29

    luckyal29 Companion

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    One of the double standards of the teaching profession.

    Outside of a handshake there is no physical contact at all between myself and my students. You just don't want to put yourself in a position that can be construed differently.
     
  15. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    Ick!

    I also am very careful as a male elementary teacher... if kids initiate, I will often pat their back when they hug me... or as happened today when I got sneak-attacked with my hands full, I just said I couldn't hug back!

    I did ask if I could give a hug when I thanked kids for Christmas presents that were given, but didn't feel like that was a big issue... and I was very careful to ask, though I realize some may not feel comfortable to say no, I am confident that none of my students had any problem... If I felt like kids might be uncomfortable, I likely wouldn't even ask.
     
  16. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Hmmm. My initial response was not "ick" but that the principal's comment sounds like a fatherly thing to say. Not the best professional decision, but it could be quite innocent.
    If he's cracking the childrens' bones he clearly doesn't know his own strength and he needs to be informed.

    This said, if you're concerned please, please speak to this principal. Your inner voice is far more important than my very distant, uninformed opinion.
     
  17. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    " a choice between 9 whoopins or a 'hug of love'."

    I find the 9 whoopins as disturbing as the hugs 'of love'.
     
  18. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Great advice!!!

    Forget being diplomatic. Let your daughter know that she is NOT to allow herself to be put in that position again. She can say, loud enough for the whole school to hear: "Stop touching me, Mr. Smith. I don't like it."

    Hugging the kids on your soccer team, in full view of the people in the stands, is one thing.

    Giving a child in your office (presumably alone??) a choice between 9 whoppins and a hug is creepy.
     
  19. kidatheart

    kidatheart Habitué

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    I agree that you need to go with your gut instinct. But do keep in mind that some of our schools it is normal for students to hug and be hugged, it is the culture. In our school, some of the kids don't get that attention from anyone outside of the school establishment. Sad really. Again, that being said, go with your gut. Talk about it, but do it prudently. Just the question of inpropriety can ruin a career.
     
  20. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    One would think that a principal would realize this too, and act with it in mind.
     
  21. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    There's a huge difference between a spontaneousness, in the moment, kind of hug and a principal giving a child the choice between "nine whoopings and a hug of love". The latter is just creepy...in any context.
     
  22. kidatheart

    kidatheart Habitué

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    Alice - one would think.
    MMSWM - sometimes we speak without thinking. I often tell students I'm going to whip them with a wet noodle... I obviously don't mean it.
    As I said - go with your gut, but do it with care. Even if you find out it was innocent and he's just a nice guy, it could be too late if handled incorrectly. If it was my kid, I'd definitely have a conversation with other parents, teachers, etc. But I'd do it with care. Parents can be gossipy and we all know the damage of "whisper down the lane".
     
  23. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    When it comes to the safety of my kids, that's a chance I'm willing to take.

    It wasn't just talk. He DID hug the girl, and hurt her in doing so.

    He wouldn't be getting a second shot at my daughter.

    Think of all the times we warn our kids about inappropriate touching. We tell them about privacy areas of their body, and about how no one should ever touch them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable. (And, no, I'm not implying that he did anything more than hug this young lady.)

    At the very least, this principal-- an educator we entrust to teach our kids what they need to know-- has negated that very important message. His actions seem to imply that the person in power gets to decide how your body is to be treated. (Note that a 3rd birthday choice wasn't "none of the above.")
     
  24. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Yikes! My kiddos hug me all the time. I never initiate hugs, but for some reason students always hug me. To be honest, though, hugs sometimes make me uncomfortable (especially when they wrap their arms around me or squeeze me too hard). I never turn away a hug, but I never EVER ask for one.
     
  25. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    I typically threaten to throw them out the window. Even though my classroom has one very, very small window. And I teach giant high school football players. And I teach on the first floor. It's become a joke in my room.
     

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