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Superintendent: We Won't Suspend Students for Hugging

In clarification, he says Matawan-Aberdeen Middle School principal was addressing unsuitable physical interactions between students

When Principal Tyler Blackmore made an announcement over the loud speaker that the school was now a "no hugging school", he likely never guessed it would garner such widespread media attention.

The story was first reported by New Jersey 101.5, and was then on Matawan-Aberdeen Patch asking if readers felt hugging in middle school was appropriate.

The story of a "hug ban" in a New Jersey school quickly spread to multiple news organizations, including CBS Local, Fox NY, NJ.com, in addition to several blogs.

"It is unfortunate that there are those who find purpose and humor in sensationalizing such a routine school related issue at the expense and inconvenience of our children and our school community," said Superintendent David Healy in a press release issued Thursday evening.

Healy clarified that there is no set policy against hugging, and said no student would be suspended for hugging. Healy said that Blackmore made the announcement in an, "effort to address some incidents of unsuitable, physical interactions between students."

"I have confidence in Mr. Blackmore and his administrative team and believe that he acted in a responsible manner," Healy said.

Read Healy's full statement here:

Mr. Blackmore is responsible for the safety and well being of over 900 children ranging from eleven to fourteen years in age and to that end he makes several announcements on a daily basis. In an effort to address some incidents of unsuitable, physical interactions between students, Mr. Blackmore made an announcement to his students that they were in a "no hugging school."

We have a responsibility to teach children about appropriate interactions and about having a structured, academically focused environment. There is no policy specific to hugging and we have not nor will we be suspending students for hugging. However the Board has policies in place to address bullying, inappropriate relationships and inappropriate conduct. I have confidence in Mr. Blackmore and his administrative team and believe that he acted in a responsible manner.

Despite this distraction I along with my administration, faculty and staff will continue to be committed to focusing on our primary mission of educating children while providing them with a safe, secure and nurturing learning environment.

It is unfortunate that there are those who find purpose and humor in sensationalizing such a routine school related issue at the expense and inconvenience of our children and our school community.

unknown March 23, 2012 at 02:16 AM
School is to learn. And i think mr.blackmore is right in all ways. Kids need to grow up like me. I hate the rule to. But other classmates do act inapropiate. Thanks for protectihg us mr.blackmore
Jason Alto March 23, 2012 at 02:43 AM
Lol Yes there is a ban. He said NO HUGGING. He can make that a policy if he wants. I think it is a ban, since I did get detention from it. Thank you Chelsea for poor info.
Agent Moose and Squirrel March 23, 2012 at 05:00 AM
first the student at Brookdale for the cup of ice and now this? is there something in the air or water in that region that this sillyness is going on? does the no hugging rule have a addition rule underwritten to it like no farting?
Kim March 23, 2012 at 11:26 AM
If any of you parents out there actually have conversations with your kids that go to that school you would know that this policy doesnt stem from affectionate hugging.. your 12 & 13 year olds are grinding and sucking face in the hallway.. that is not appropriate anywhere at that age..
john March 23, 2012 at 12:24 PM
Maybe Mr Blackmore should have educated, instead of making a pronouncement! He is an EDUCATOR isnt he...stop defending him Mr Healy, it was a silly announcement and the negative publicity it is now receiving is completely justified.
Pat March 23, 2012 at 12:28 PM
Kim, you are absolutely correct! Taking a walk through the halls during the day would make just about any adult blush.
angel March 23, 2012 at 12:56 PM
As usual, clueless parents are so quick to judge the recommendation by the school principal. First, if you do your job at home then appropriate hugging can be differentiated between hugging and groping. You will be the same parents who will berating the school district when you 6th grade girl gets an "inappropriate" hug by an 8th grade boy. There is a fine line between what is appropriate and inappropriate as teachers, administrators now become hugging judges on who was offended, who crossed the line, why, where, who saw it, "I didnt do it" and "I didnt mean it" and "my father is coming in" and no, now the hugger's father is coming in so both fathers can interpret what went on, when they were not even there. All takes away from the task at hand, and that is, by the way, educating young people. Complete waste of time for teachers, guidance counselors, administrators. Ban it. Warn the kids, let them know right up front what is expected. And teachers, dont overreact. Remember, they are kids. Warn them, use it as a teachable moment and move on. Repeaters move up the chain of command. Teachers, guidance counselors, administrators. Once you set the tone, although difficult in middle of year, kids get the message. Parents should parent, and let the schools educate. Support the schools at home with your kids.
Alli March 23, 2012 at 01:02 PM
I guess you weren't watching the news.....did anyone notice all the short, short tight skirts the girls were wearing at MAMS????? I hear all the time from my daughter about all the kissing and all the touchy feely going on in the hallways at that school. Go Mr. Blackmore-I couldn't agree more. Parents, instead of complaining go take a walk through the halls of a school and maybe you would understand what goes on.
Robert March 23, 2012 at 01:06 PM
Unfortunately when parents aren't parenting, the school district is faced with having to do it for them. As far as the hugging goes - maybe they wouldn't have to ban it if they actually enforced the school dress code.
Gina March 23, 2012 at 01:26 PM
I SO, SO, SO agree! Don't these parents see what their kids are wearing to this school? Have they looked at their Facebook accounts? Have they looked at the language they are using? The majority of them aren't even teenagers yet! I'm not against banning hugging - I am upset that the school took it upon themselves to ban it without notifying the parents of the reasons of why they are doing this so that I could do my JOB as a parent to discuss it with my kids. If there is a problem at the middle school - the parents need to be aware of what it is. There needs to be a more OPEN line of communication between the school and the parents.
Kathy March 23, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Cudos for Mr. Blackmore for taking a stance and taking the heat for doing something he felt was necessary and appropriate. As a building leader, I am confident that he came to this decisioin after careful thought, review and discussions with his staff members. Middle School is a turning point in a child's development, growing from adolesence to young adulthood and dealing with all the teenage issues and concerns along the way. It's not kindergarten here when they are young, innocent and they were our babies. This is young adulthood and we should be teaching our children to differentiate types of contact. Yes, hugs are great and sure most are innocent, but heck - this is middle school were we send them to learn and become more responsible for themselves and their successes. They don't need hugs in the hallways to achieve independence and social awareness. There's plenty of time after school for hugs. The attention this story has garnered is ridiculous. I applaud Mr. Blackmore for taking on the issue and I just don't get the negative attention that this benign matter has caused at MAMS.
colleen March 25, 2012 at 05:01 PM
I would like to know if anyone that has posted has any children in the school system??? Why this may seem very trivial. "hugging". These children are actually doing a lot more than just hugging!!!! Now I'm not saying everyone's child is bad not at all but must children have no respect for authority at all ! These children need to have respect for themselves as well as adults. I totally understand. That kids hug each other as a sign of affection or a hello. That's great. But there is a line that has been crossed in the middle school that very seriously needed to be addressed , and in today's society when everything has to be POLITICALLY CORRECT. We can't say the boys are going to the bathroom because there is a girl waiting to service them!! We now have to say no"HUGGING" & now because of this A principle will lose his job. REALLY!! I do not know this principle but he is an adult who has the responsibility to see that our children get the best education that he can provide through our teachers. If that's the one way he can provide this by having no HUGGING. I say great. &i agree it does take a village to raise a child, so as parents,teachers, the boe ADULTS. should come together to support the principle &his decision, we should try to educate these kids
Agent Moose and Squirrel March 26, 2012 at 02:26 AM
if things are as you say they are then maybe the boys and girls should be going to seperate schools. it's more that the parents are not doing their job in teaching and raising their children. it's not the schools to do that part. the school is to educate them. what school where you go into the boys room you get serviced? come on!!! you're watching too many movies and letting your mind run wild.
colleen March 26, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Let me tell u. Your right about it's the schools job to teach our kids & the parents job to educate them as well. I'm not in disagreement with you. As far as separate schools. I don't know. I went to that school really the only thing we had to worrie about then was who was gonna get beat up... Movies. I don't think so. This is happening now !!!!!!!That's the problem with some ppl. THEY ARE IN DENIAL. So wake up
Marcos April 17, 2012 at 11:35 PM
I go to mams, and NO ONE WAS PUNISHED!!!!!! If you were, some misguided teacher misinterpreted the policy
Marcos April 17, 2012 at 11:37 PM
We need more people like you in our world, noticing the wrongs of my peers :)

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