I am not sure. But, everyone needs a comforting hug now and then, no matter what age. And sometimes, a hug means "proud of you" moments or "happy for your" moments. In today's times, I guess the hugging of students would depend on the graveness of the situation. And, when students reach puberty, that's when the Teacher have to be careful with the hugs and touch. I guess, being consistent with the talks, regularity in school activities, rules and regulations and having serious discussions would be ways of showing comfort and give stability in a student's life. As for protection, the ways are making sure the school environment is a safe haven physically and socially. Although the Teacher plays a great role in this, all school administrators and personnel are responsible too, for keeping the children safe.