Is it me or is there a new trend developing in discipline? There's a new way of torturing kids under the guise of punishing them for misdeeds: making them touch each other, whether they like it or not. In one school in Arizona, a principal even forced two teenage boys to hold each other's hands for an hour.
Clasping hands during lunch, in front of the rest of the student body, was supposed to teach the boys a lesson for fighting in gym class (it was that or be suspended). The public humiliation, apparently, was supposed to set the kids on the straight and narrow. But if anyone should be punished right now, I'm thinking it's the principal.
Not only did he subject these kids to bullying by putting them in the middle of campus during lunchtime for the whole thing -- which is NEVER an OK tactic for discipline -- but he broke a cardinal rule when it comes to "ruling" over kids. By telling them that they had to hold hands, the administrator took away these boys' right to say "when" when it comes to their own bodies.
He's not the first guy to make this mistake, and he won't be the last. How many times have you seen parents of toddlers who got in a tussle on the playground order the kids to go hug it out? It's a different age group, different intention, but it still sends our kids the wrong message, that they "have to" touch someone when they have absolutely zero interest in doing so, that they have to be touched when they find it uncomfortable.
Being a kid is tough enough without some adult telling you that your body is no longer your own. We try teaching our kids from day one that they always have the right to say "no," but these sorts of punishments send the opposite message. What it tells kids is that they have no control over their bodies.
Can we just drop this discipline technique and go back to writing "I will not fight" 100 times on the blackboard?
What would you have done if this was your child? Would you be OK with forcing him to hold hands with another kid?
Image via katerha/Flickr