What some of you might not know is that I also serve the team of volunteers that care for our students. If I have learned anything over the past year working with these adults and our students, it's that students are people too. They may look funny, act funny and even smell funny... but they play, hurt and laugh just like the rest of us.
I was doing some web serving (not a huge hobby of mine) looking for some pool game with a greasy watermelon (???) and came across a blog to help youth ministry leaders. Inside this blog was a link to the following article:
‘Needless hugging?’ What will teens think of next?Now, I've posted the entire article below so you can take a look, but let me quote a section of the article that implies that hugging is the "latest form of teenage rebellion."
Let me tell you something else I have learned over the past year. Students are trying to survive in world that is even more upside down that when I was teen (just 10 years ago). Students are facing a world with no absolutes, an unstable economy and the threat of terrorism...They are losing friends to drugs, car accidents, suicides and gang fights. Students have started to cling to the one thing they can, each other. They are grabbing on to a way of life that's foreign to our culture... Community. Caring for each other. Non-judgmental, straight up love exploding for anyone and everyone.
So, here's what I have to say about "latest form of teenage rebellion." REBEL HARDER! ...maybe it'll start a revolution.
In their endless campaign and their inherited duty to confound their elders, this latest generation of teenagers has adopted a new weapon:
As detailed by a recent front-page story in The New York Times, teenage hugging has become an epidemic stretching from one coast to the other. Girls are hugging girls. Boys are hugging boys. Boys are hugging girls and vice-versa, which is not really a new development, except that now the inter-gender embraces do not necessarily have ulterior motives.
“For Teenagers, Hello Means ‘How About a Hug?” according to the story’s headline.
“We’re not afraid, we just get in and hug,” a male high school junior is quoted as saying. “The guy friends, we don’t care. You just get right in there and jump in.”
“We like to get cozy,” an eighth-grade girl in San Francisco explains. “The high-five is, like, boring,”
One might think that the practice of kids exchanging hugs, not drugs — or slugs — would be welcomed without reservation and even with open arms by parents and educators. One might be wrong.
• A parenting columnist for the Associated Press admits that she is baffled.
“It’s a wordless custom, from what I’ve observed,” she writes in her book, “13 is the new 18.” “And there doesn’t seem to be any other overt way in which they acknowledge each other. No hi, no smile, no wave, no high-five — just the hug.”
• Experts have been consulted to delve into what this threat of teenage hugging is all about.
“Without question, the boundaries of touch have changed in American culture,” declares a Virginia sociologist. “We display bodies more readily, there are fewer rules governing body touch and a lot more permissible access to other people’s bodies.”
• Attorneys are standing by to fight for the constitutional rights of students who might feel pressured by their peers into hugging. The day after the Times story was published, a legal Web site in Michigan warned that parents “should be alert to the potential downsides” of hugging.
• And school officials, naturally, are having trouble getting their arms around this latest form of teenage rebellion. Some have instituted a “three-second rule” to limit the length of a hug. A few years ago, in Bend, Ore, a middle school girl received detention for illegal hugging.
“Touching and physical contact is very dangerous territory,” notes the principal of a high school in New Jersey, where student — and, presumably, faculty — hugging was banned two years ago. “It was needless hugging — they are in the hallways before they go to class. It wasn’t a greeting. It was happening all day.”
As a parent and a lifelong nonhugger, I understand that principal’s concern. There’s always the risk that, at some point, a hug may become something more serious than just a hug.
But, I’ve lived through several generations of teenagers for which we fretted mostly about sex, drugs and lock-and-load. I guess that’s why the phrase “needless hugging” seems like it should be the least of our worries.