by Jennifer Shakeel
I have to admit that when I heard all the controversy over whether students should be allowed to hug each other at school I went to the source for an investigation. I talked to my children, one is in elementary and the other is finishing middle school. I asked them if their schools had a policy against hugging or physical contact and how they felt about it.
My son who is in elementary said that his school did not have a policy that he was aware of. My daughter on the other hand said her school does, but no one follows it. She stated that her and her friends could get away with the “one arm hug.” It was really the “boyfriend-girlfriend hug” that was the major no-no.
Myself, I can not believe that we live in a society that would ban hugging at all. I would like schools to explain to me why they would ban a hug. Now, I can understand that not all hugs are equal. I don’t think school is a place that students need to be groping each other, but I also don’t believe that is an activity that kids should be doing anyway. So I can see saying that any sexual touching is banned. But a hug?
Children these days have cell phones. I am not completely sure as to why they have cell phones, really what does a 7 year old need a cell phone for? Children are also on MySpace and Facebook. They are talking in chat rooms that they should not be in and they are texting each other and worse sexting each other. The use their cell phones to bully each other and they do the same on the social networking sites. I believe that they do this because we, as a society, tell them that physical contact with another human is wrong. They shouldn’t do it. That it is wrong, that it will lead to bad things.
Look, it is time that we all take a closer look at the benefit of a hug and how it can help our kids. We all know that a hug feels good. You feel better when you get a hug and when you give a hug. Believe it or not the impact of a hug goes much deeper than just the sensation on the skin. A study that was performed at the University of North Carolina shows that hugs increase the bonding hormone known as oxytocin and they decrease the risk of heart disease.
Benefits of Touch Start Early
We as humans are clearly social animals, there is scientific proof that supports this. Studies have shown that people who have friends are healthier than those that do not have friends. Studies have also shown that people who are married are healthier than their single counterparts.
We need social contact, and that includes touch, even beyond a couple's capacity. Take, for example, the fact that babies benefit from skin-to-skin contact with their mother with better physical development and positive bonding.
A telling example was a study of Korean infants in an orphanage. Those who received an extra 15 minutes of a female voice, massage and eye-to-eye contact, five days a week for four weeks, gained more weight and had greater increases in body length and head circumferences after the four weeks and at 6 months of age than children without the extra stimulation.
Therapeutic touch has also been shown to reduce stress and pain among adults, and reduces symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, such as restlessness, pacing, vocalization, searching and tapping.
While I think that a hug needs to be something that both parties want, meaning hugs should not be forced on anyone, I don’t think they should be banned. They are beneficial not only due to the effects it has on your mentally, but the healthful impacts it has on you physically. If we allow our schools to ban hugs, what is next… banning smiling at one another?
Jennifer Shakeel is a writer and former nurse with over 12 years medical experience. As a mother of two incredible children with one on the way, I am here to share with you what I have learned about parenting and the joys and changes that take place during pregnancy. Together we can laugh and cry and rejoice in the fact that we are moms!
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