Teachers Hugging and Touching Students – Is it wrong?
Hugging is something you tend to do to your friends, family, people you feel warm towards and not something you would expect from a Teacher to his/her students, but sometimes it can’t be helped.
“It can’t be helped?”
What I mean is this. Example. I teach adults and on the last academic day before Christmas – after having snacks, drinks, exchange of gifts, cards etc everyone leaves. Most students give me a Hug before they leave. Some kiss on the cheeks twice or maybe not quite on the cheeks. Some simply wave goodbye.This also happens at the end of an Academic year where students leave for another class. I would feel awkward if I said “don’t hug me” etc. So, in the spirit of festivities or end of term, I’m polite about it and Hug them back, knowing that it means nothing more than best wishes. ~ Farewell Hug?
If a student is distraught, has just had some bad news, some teachers give a comforting Hug. Also it could be that a student who started learning with you and hadn’t got a clue how to string a sentence together. (E.g ESOL Adult learner). Later in the year, they come up to you looking proud and say they have found a very good Job. Sometimes, you just want to Hug them because you know how far they’ve come and you are happy for them. ~ Encouraging Hug or Congratulating Hug?
Having written this, I feel Teachers should still be wise about it. I visit some websites and have read posts about teen girls being attracted to their male Teacher. Maybe if a teacher knows someone has a crush on them, then instead of hugging - just offer a handshake.
Innocent Hugging at work turns to Sexual Assault Claim
GP who Hugged Crying patient recently cleared of sexual Assault in Dec 09.
Patient’s complaint: “She had complained that he had put a comforting arm around her while she was crying.” Full story
Sometimes, it so happens that Teachers touch students. I’ve had an instance where a student cried in class and it just seemed normal for me to pat/rub her shoulders a little bit, for comfort. We were doing an exercise on Jobs and she just burst into tears. She then told the class that a few days ago, she had gone for a test for a job (some jobs have tests before interview) she said the people were horrible to her and made her feel so bad etc. She was Chinese, with little knowledge of English at the time, so must have found it difficult to communicate and they were inconsiderate.
Now for men, I would talk to them softly, ask if I can get them a drink or if they’d like to go home. etc (I’ve had a case where a man was upset due to bereavement). For some strange reason, my brain cells don’t communicate with my hands, as much as I would like to comfort a male student in distress. I feel bad about it but, The “education system” rings bells in my head. One has to be so careful in education nowadays - even something as simple as taking kids out for swimming lessons and taking innocent pics of them, could be seen in a “negative” way.
Sometimes, professionally - innocent gestures can get people into trouble.
Even Politicians Hug.....
So, in summary, I don’t think there is anything wrong in Hugging Students. As long as it’s not a daily occurrence. Teachers should be wise about it (maybe think twice) and if there is a student who likes to Hug them everyday when they come to class, then I think they might have to have a quiet word with the student. It would be interesting to know what others feel about this issue. Thank you for reading.
~ Update ~
Very sensitive Topic - There are over 150 comments below from people expressing their opinion on this.