New Jersey School Bans Hugging
The 900 students at Matawan-Aberdeen Middle School in Cliffwood, N.J., will have to find another way to show affection after the principal declared the campus a "no hugging school".
Principal Tyler Blackmore issued the mandate after the school observed "some incidents of unsuitable, physical interactions between students," the school district said in a statement.
"We have a responsibility to teach children about appropriate interactions and about having a structured, academically focused environment," David M. Healy, superintendent of the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District, said in a statement.
Healy said the students, who range in ages 11 to 14, would not be suspended for hugging.
Matawan-Aberdeen joins the company of a handful of schools across the United States that have instituted no hugging rules.
West Sylvan Middle School in Portland, Ore., banned students from hugging in 2010 after the principal said the embrace had become a disruption and even a bullying mechanism.
"I was observing students hugging other students and the other students didn't feel comfortable," principal Allison Couch told ABCNews.com at the time.
Girls eager to see each other would also run the length of the hallway, hugging all of their friends, she said.
A 14-year-old student at Southwest Middle School in Palm Bay, Fla., was suspended in November for a brief hug he shared with a female student between classes.
Nick Martinez said he hugged his best friend, a female student, and never thought the gesture would result in suspension. The principal saw the hug and brought the two students to the dean, who issued a one-day in-school suspension.
"Honestly, I didn't know, because I didn't think hugging was a bad thing. I didn't know you could get suspended for it," Martinez told ABC affiliate WKMG-TV. "A lot of friends are hugging. I just happened to be the one caught doing it."
ABC News' Lauren Sher contributed to this report.