Hug Ban in WA

Bunbury school’s hugging ban attracts national attention

  • Sophie Ablett, Estella Rome and Amber Ablett, who received detention for hugging a classmate.Sophie Ablett, Estella Rome and Amber Ablett, who received detention for hugging a classmate.

A BUNBURY school has gained national attention after a Year 6 student was given detention for hugging her friend goodbye.

Adam Road Primary School student Amber Ablett received the punishment because the school had a no-hugging policy in place.

Mother Heidi Rome said she was “dumbfounded” by the decision to reprimand her daughter’s actions which saw her receive a recess detention.

Mrs Rome wrote to the Bunbury Mail to express her concern.

“It’s not so much the detention – it’s the fact there is this rule and the psychological implications it could have,” she said.

“I don’t usually bring forward complaints like this and I do like the school.

“It’s not about slandering their name – it’s about this silly rule.”

The story has gained national attention – appearing on popular breakfast show Sunrise – and sparked a conversation on the rule.

Adam Road Primary School acting principal Gemma Preston said the rule was enforced following injuries after “over-enthusiastic” hugs.

“This behaviour was getting out of control with students hugging each other several times a day, and this was becoming disruptive to classes,” she said.

“The rule was reinforced with our Year 6 and 7 students again last week during a general talk about being role models for the younger students.

“In this particular incident, the students involved were hugging on school grounds just two hours after this talk and it was important to follow it through as a discipline issue.”

Mrs Rome said she had no idea about the rule and believed the school should have taken other avenues to educate the students on appropriate behaviour.

“I’ve spoken to teachers at other schools where there was boyfriend/girlfriend hugging or excessive hugging which they dealt with by lecturing in the classroom and targeting the individuals,” she said.

“To put a blanket rule over hugging like this is too far.

“Banning all kids from a natural development thing like a hug is ridiculous.

“Like people have said, target the bullying and not nice, caring behaviour like this.”

The Department of Education confirmed the decision on hugging rules were up to individual schools to make.

Mrs Rome urged other parents to write to the Adam Road Primary School board in the hope the rule would be overturned.

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