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Keep your distance

null Public displays of affection have never been encouraged in school hallways; most middle and high school students know that a lockerside smooching session will earn them a wag of the finger from passing teachers. No matter how restricting it may seem, lovestruck couples should stick to handholding within school hours. At a Northern Virginia school, however, kids are told to keep their hands in their pockets. In order to eliminate fighting, harassment and inappropriate behavior altogether, Kilmer Middle School in Vienna has forbidden all physical contact between students. This includes handshakes, pats on the back, high fives and hugs. Most recently, a 13-year-old seventh grader was sent into the principal's office for putting his arm around his girlfriend, the Associated Press reports. If he repeated this behavior, he would face detention. School officials began enforcing the no-touching policy after they witnessed harmless pokes turn into physical fights and handshakes disguise gang signs. Not to mention, some girls were too embarrassed to say that a hug from a boy made her uncomfortable. Forbidding all touching is supposed to eliminate gray areas—this way, nothing is subject to interpretation. Apparently the policy isn't as rigid as it sounds, because only repeat offenders get reprimanded to the point of detention. And, high fives can be acceptable in class if students are merely congratulating each other on solving a difficult problem. Sure, breaking up fights or separating making out couples is a downside to the teaching profession. But, how are teenagers supposed to learn appropriate codes of interaction if venturing into gray areas is forbidden altogether? The policy inescapably brings to mind images of students in radioactive suits. We suspect that Kilmer's detention room will soon be one of the most happening places in town.
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