A school in Victoria has raised eyebrows after it slapped a ban on students hugging each other.
St Patrick's Primary School, located in Geelong West, told its students they were no longer allowed to hug each other or their teachers.
The school’s principal, John Grant, told the Geelong Advertiser that “nothing in particular” had prompted the ban, but said it was important to protect students’ personal space.
“In this current day and age we are really conscious about protecting kids and teaching them from a young age that you have to be cautious,” Grant said.
“We have a lot of kids who walk up and hug each other and we’re trying to encourage all of us to respect personal space. It really comes back to not everyone is comfortable in being hugged.”
However, leading child psychologist, Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, said he found the ban “extraordinary”.
“One of the greatest predictors of well-being in children is having a rich repertoire of friends, so arguably you could say that this is interfering with one of the great pathways to well-being later on,” he said.
“It’s a curious decision as it is not backed up by any science at all.”
Students who breach the new rule will not be punished, but will be asked to respect each other's personal space.
The school will formally notify parents of the decision this week in a letter.
St Patrick's Primary School principal, John Grant, released a statement late yesterday denying he had implemented a “blanket ban” on hugging.
“Let me be clear St Patrick’s school has not applied a blanket ban on hugging,” the statement read.
“We are simply focused on teaching all students to respect their own and other people’s personal space.
“We are encouraging students to consider other forms of positive acknowledgement as all students have the right to feel safe and comfortable at school.”