All across the USA and in many parts of the world, today’s teens are hugging as a form of greeting. While hugs have always been a way to express love, friendship, support, and consolation, more and more teenagers use hugs interchangeably with handshakes.
There are many different types of hugs. Loose hugs and tight hugs. Short hugs and long hugs. Half hugs and back-slap hugs. Most teens practice your basic friendly hug: The hugger advances toward the huggee with open arms at which point the huggee reciprocates by opening his or her arms, thus presenting a clear path for final approach. Depending on the length and history of the relationship, the embrace may be brief and light, signifying “Hi, great to see ya,” or longer and squeezier, conveying a more meaningful nonverbal message.
Hugs are a lot like social kisses, except more circular. While they typically occur between people who already know each other, you might hug someone you’ve never met if he or she is a relative, an intimate of your circle of friends, someone you’ve heard a great deal about, or someone you have already gotten to know as an online friend.
Hugs have become gender-neutral. They can occur between girls, boys, or a boy and a girl. You can even have group hugs, sometimes referred to as football huddles.
While most teens welcome hugs, some teens are hug-averse. This could be for any number of reasons. You need to watch for signs suggesting a reluctance to hug and be respectful of the person’s boundaries.
Hugging has, as you might expect, upset many adults and school administrators. Some schools have instituted bans on hugging, envisioning a total breakdown of discipline and decorum if teens are allowed to arm-wrap each other. This has led to protests with rebellious students offering free hugs and chanting, “Hugs not shrugs!”
One principal feared that a greet-and-grab culture could lead to “needless hugging.” This, if unchecked, could cause hug-jams in the hallways, especially between lunch and fifth period. A more enlightened principal chose not to outlaw these snuggly displays of affection but, rather, impose a three-second cuddle curfew. Uncouple one second late, young lady, and it’s off to detention for you! Of course, this meant that all hall monitors had to be armed with stopwatches.
Yes, the wanton and spontaneous expression of warmth threatens the well being of adolescents everywhere. Go down this slippery slope and before you know it, teens will be—sharing pencils! But I think it’s worth the risk and I hereby grant get-out-of-detention-free passes to any teen harassed for hugging.
Adapted from How Rude! by Alex J. Packer, copyright © 2014. Used with permission of Free Spirit Publishing Inc., Minneapolis MN; 800-735-7323; www.freespirit.com. All rights reserved.