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Teen Boys Forced to Hold Hands in Front of Entire School as Punishment

by Jeanne Sager on November 30, 2012 at 11:10 AM

holding handsIs 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

Filed Under: body image, discipline

Comments

72
  • tuffy...
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    tuffymama

    November 30, 2012 at 11:11 AM
    Again: so glad I homeschool.
  • jhslove
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    jhslove

    November 30, 2012 at 11:16 AM

    The problem with these punishments is that they're not logical. Consequences should always be connected to the behavior in question. Forcing a tween to wear diapers for getting bad grades; forcing kids to hold hands because they fought; forcing a kid to run in the cold for talking back; these are all punitive and they don't do any good.

    A better consequence for fighting in class would have been having the two boys work together to complete a community-service project for the school, since their fighting detracted from everyone else's learning and disrupted the educational process. This punishment served no purpose other than to garner attention, which may be why the principal chose it in the first place. With the advent of social media, it looks like anyone can get his fifteen minutes by doing something stupid and outrageous.


  • Akash...
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    AkashaGermaine

    November 30, 2012 at 11:21 AM
    I'm not saying I agree with the punishment but they had the choice time not touch each other. If it had been that terrible to either boy they could have taken the suspension. That's what I would have done.
  • Akash...
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    AkashaGermaine

    November 30, 2012 at 11:21 AM
    To not time
  • corri...
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    corrinacs

    November 30, 2012 at 11:38 AM

    I don't think that punishment is that bad, TBH.  In fact, when kids are in preschool, we teach them to say sorry and hug the other person.  But holding hands for an hour is not that bad of punishment. Perhaps not in front of the whole student body, but during a class or something.  I mean, they obviously don't mind touching each other if they were whacking each other up side the head as it were.


  • AdryF
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    AdryF

    November 30, 2012 at 11:43 AM
    Okay it is not like he made them touch each others groin or anything. And yeah my mother made my sisters and I hold hands or "hug it out" and we survived.
  • jlynn07
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    jlynn07

    November 30, 2012 at 12:07 PM

    i don't think it was that awful. if they didn't want to "touch" they both would have chosen getting suspended.


  • dixie...
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    dixiechick2

    November 30, 2012 at 12:09 PM
    They had a CHOICE, they chose to take the hand holding punishment, they weren't FORCED to!
  • dirti...
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    dirtiekittie

    November 30, 2012 at 12:37 PM

    they were given two options: suspension (typical punishment) or hold hands (not so typical). if the boys chose to do the handholding, then that's on them. as others here have already said, they obviously don't have a problem touching each other, because typically suspension (usually) only comes into play after physical contact was made anyway. 

    personally, i'm all for more of these kinds of punishments. we've lost our sense of shame and humility in this country, and with it, some forms of modesty. i'm not saying we all need to be puritans, but being a little more conscientious of our actions and how they affect those around us wouldn't hurt either. 


  • Eversnow
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    Eversnow

    November 30, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    What part of they CHOSE this punishment do you not understand? My principal/teachers did similiar things when we got into fights at school, most of the time, if not all the time, it ended in the two guys or girls laughing about it. You're blowing it way out of proportion like most people blow everything out of proportion now days. Everyone is so godforsaken sensitive!


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