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April 26, 2012 / Brooklyn news / Windsor Terrace / Parenting / The Greatest Story Ever

School bans hugs

Hug of war! Charter school serving Park Slope bans embraces

The Brooklyn Paper
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A popular charter school in Windsor Terrace has banned hugging between classes — a rule that parents and students aren’t, well, embracing.

Brooklyn Prospect Charter School principal Dan Rubinstein said he created the no hugging rule to keep students from lingering in hallways between classes, which can cause disruptions and tardiness.

“It’s a time, place, and manner thing,” he said. “We don’t want students spending too much social time between class.”

But some parents say the rule is a spirit-crushing assault on kindness that keeps pre-teens from connecting with each other.

“It seems kind of cold,” said parent Allison Pennell. “My seventh grader was like, ‘I’ve had enough of this place.’ ”

The school established the rule roughly three months ago after a sixth grader told teachers a hug from an older student made her feel uncomfortable, parents said.

Kids claim the rule actually came into effect after a gaggle of students began “group hugging” in the hallways, which blocked other children on the way to class.

The hugging ban prompted protests and some serious eye-rolling from middle schoolers, who said the too-strict rule stomps on their ability to express themselves — especially after being forced to wear uniforms last year.

“It’s silly,” said Laura Sainz, a parent. “If my son feels uncomfortable he can say it — there’s no need for a rule.”

The ban on public displays of affection has even prompted some rebel huggers, who started embracing to protest the rule. Some of those kids got recess detention for hugging, students said.

“It’s ridiculous; we do it anyway,” said one student.

Next school year, the Brooklyn Prospect Charter School’s roughly 300 middle schoolers will move from their current home at the Bishop Ford High School building on 19th Street near Prospect Park West to the Immaculate Heart of Mary School — a larger facility roughly 10 blocks away. It’s unclear if the ban on hugs will apply at a building that simply has more space for canoodling than Bishop Ford’s narrow hallways.

But parents including Pennell say the whole matter is overblown.

“It’s sort of much ado about nothing,” she said.

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at noneill@cnglocal.com or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.

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