No snogging?! British high school’s ban on physical touch and relationships goes too far

Juniors Anna Schmid and Jaiden Crabtree hold hands, an action that students at Hylands High
School in Chelmsford, U.K. are not allowed to do.

Juniors Anna Schmid and Jaiden Crabtree hold hands, an action that students at Hylands High School in Chelmsford, U.K. are not allowed to do.

Brooklyn Hendricks

Hylands High School in Chelmsford, U.K. recently banned all physical contact and romantic relationships between students. Assistant headteacher Catherine McMillan wrote in a letter to the school community that students engaging in “any aggressive physical contact, hugging, holding hands, slapping someone, etc.,” risked forfeiting their lunch or break. “We want your child to focus on their learning while in school and we don’t want them to be distracted by relationship issues,” the letter explained. However, the high school went too far with this ban: it is actively counterproductive.

Prohibiting physical touch does nothing for the school and can impact students’ health. Not all human touch is bad or sexual, though these rules make it seem like it is. Students should be able to hug or shake hands with their friends when they see them. Hugging friends is normal and good for students. It’s a way of greeting and connecting with others. Humans, especially teenagers, need physical touch to express emotion and to comfort each other. It’s important for your health and mental well-being, helping to reduce teen depression and anxiety. 

Physical touch is a part of normal daily activities, such as hugging your friend when seeing them. Not being able to do any of that is ridiculous. Learning respectful greetings and being able to control yourself is important, especially as a teen. We learn control by having these interactions every day and with friends at school. When someone is down you hug them to comfort them and help them feel better and it helps them. Students need physical contact and a school banning all of it is too much. This isn’t helping or benefitting the students at all. 

It is also not beneficial to ban all romantic relationships. Romantic relationships are someone’s private life; you do what you want outside of school. A school shouldn’t be able to say, “No, you can’t have a relationship with someone if you go here.” Students have lives outside of the classroom; no school should have so much control over their lives that they are able to ban romantic relationships. Connecting with others and having that interest towards someone is good for students.

It is understandable that the school is doing this for the students and to make a safe learning environment. Rules about physical contact and relationships at school are good for the atmosphere to some extent. For example, it would be acceptable for there to be a ban on kissing or sitting on top of others at school. However, no school should have the power to ban hugs or restrict handshakes. Despite the school’s reasoning that this ban on physical contact benefits the students, it doesn’t. This won’t make them focus more on work. They won’t learn any self-control, because all they know is that if they touch someone or hug a friend they will get punished. 

Telling teenagers not to do something makes them want to do it more. Even with banning physical contact, the school can’t stop students from making connections with other people. The school does not benefit by doing this; all it does is make students despise school more, on top of the potential damage to their wellbeing and mental health.

The only “benefits” the school could see from this are fewer fights and less inappropriate touching between people at school. However, those benefits are inconsequential compared to the many negative effects these rules have on the students. All in all, it’s an extremely outdated look for a 21st-century high school.