Eighth Grader in Florida Disciplined For Giving Hug To Friend At School

MANSUR_SarahElla Fishbough, 14, is now an eighth grader with a record. Ella was given suspension by Jackson Heights principal Sarah Mansur-Blythe (left) for a hug. That’s right. She hugged a friend who was having a bad day and was immediately reported for discipline under a hopelessly undefined prohibition on “inappropriate or obscene acts.” As with the other story today of the student suspended for playing Power Rangers, this is a case of blind application of rules without any sense of judgment or fairness. It is part of the zero tolerance culture that has taken hold in our schools.

The district’s code of conduct prohibits “inappropriate or obscene acts” including “unwelcome or inappropriate touching, or any other physical act that is considered to be offensive, socially unacceptable or not suitable for an educational setting.” That of course tells students virtually nothing and allows teachers to adopt any and all possible interpretations of inappropriate touchings. Such an ill-defined rule could just as well say “you can be punished at the discretion of school officials for any act that they deem inappropriate.”

Hugging was banned with other specific acts like kissing, linking arms, and holding hands. I can understand the ban on kissing, though hugging is a common act of friendship. The school is giving this act a presumed sexual meaning and creating a hyper-sensitive environment for these students.

They are all treated as banned “PDA” or Public Displays of Affection. Ella turns out to be a recidivist. She was previously given a PDA after the same boy put a hand on her head. She was listed in the notice as a repeat offender with a “second PDA.”

Jackson Heights principal Sarah Mansur-Blythe has insisted that the PDA rule will continue to be strictly enforced — even in the case of family members. When asked if two family members hugged, Mansur-Blythe reportedly insisted that they would still get a PDA. The obvious illogic of the rule seems not to concern Mansur-Blythe. It simply does not matter. Forgive the pun, but ignorance is Blythe.

Schools are following suit across the country in disciplining students who hug like Megan Coulter, an Illinois eighth-grader, in 2007 who was also a repeat hugger with two brief hugs spotted on school grounds.

Once again, my greatest concern is the teaching that students must accept arbitrary and capricious authority. Here the administrator reportedly pledged to enforce the rule without any logic or discretion against members of the same family. It is not the danger of raising cold and detached students that concern me. It is the danger of raising thoughtless and detached citizens that concern me.

64 thoughts on “Eighth Grader in Florida Disciplined For Giving Hug To Friend At School”

  1. The vile principal was probably just jealous, since she had probably already placed sexual designs on the student “implicated”!

  2. If you can’t hug or hold hands or pat, and you can’t kick or hit or slap, I guess there is no physical contact allowed. You have no body, student. You have nobody. You are nobody.

  3. I think that was the book that Cliffnotes was created for.

    I’m pretty sure that it was really Great Expectations that Cliffnotes was created for. That book almost turned me off from reading,….. and I’m an avid reader devouring several books a week.

  4. Get your kids out of Government Schools, and all kids you can get out of there.
    It is a totalitarian culture to dumb down masses to be docile workers and insatiable consumers hypnotized by television to internalize suggestion and manipulation by the “some animals that are better than other animals.”

    Do you think they still teach Animal Farm? They dropped Moby Dick, the Mayflower Compact, the Reformation, and phonics to minimize any critical thinking by the inmates. You’ll never learn about the 1946 Battle of Athens, TN, the Jesuits, Albert Pike and the Freemasons, the genocide of Armenia, or Sgt. York in Government Schools. SAVE THE CHILDREN! They are our nation’s future and hope.

    1. terry seale – have you every slogged your way through Moby Dick? I think that was the book that Cliffnotes was created for.

  5. ranonoff, I’m not a big hugger but it really depends on who’s hugging me. Guys not so much. I think, can’t you just shake my hand dude but I surely don’t want or don’t think they should be arrested or penalized.

  6. I am a retired schoolteacher. To me, schools are a bit of controlled chaos. There is a type of person who cannot handle this and must have total control all the time. Maybe it is their fear of losing that control that bothers them. This is bad policy and bad education. A child who hugs a friend having a bad day is a sensitive, caring human being. Those qualities should be praised, not punished.


  7. Neither this post nor any of the articles I’ve seen about this situation say that the person who was hugged objected to the contact.

  8. DBQ, We direct, straightforward people should be put on the Endangered Species list.

  9. I’m a pretty direct person, as you might tell from my comments and my husband is too. It makes me nuts to have people beat around the bush and not come directly to the point. This is why I really had a hard time working with women. Gaaaah! What are you trying to say. Just tell me! I can’t read your effing minds! You are wasting my time. (I didn’t always say it that way, but I wished to)

    So we are very direct with each other. No hidden agendas or land mines in our conversations.

    So, I appreciate that when I think can of beans/tomatoes/corn that I assumed that he knew what I meant because he has been watching me cook for over 20 years……and that I was wrong. I need to be specific. That is the best way.

    However, if like Olly, he wants to bring home extra stuff, I don’t mind at all.

    However, back to the hugs and stuff in school. People need to have contact with each other. There should be boundaries of course and decorum. The robotic one size fits all, no tolerance and refusal to examine things on a case by case basis is teaching the children entirely wrong lessons. It is more harmful than the off chance that someone might feel icky if they are getting the warmth of human kindness. As someone said earlier….empathy for others. A quick hug. A pat on the arm or back. All sorts of non sexual contact that is normal to the human species.

  10. Olly – she decided that shopping was recreational for her and I was making her look bad. 😉

  11. DBQ,
    I can certainly empathize with your husband. My wife learned I would not even go run the market errand unless she was specific. Unfortunately she routinely would underestimate the quantity she needed and I would be returning for more. Now when she sends me out to buy whatever, I will buy ‘extra’ and at worst she will have a ready supply in the pantry…just in case. 😉

    1. Olly – my wife complains about having to do the grocery shopping and since I am retired, I have offered many times to do the grocery shopping. All she needs to do is make the shopping list.

      We tried that. What took her two hours to do I was doing in 20 minutes.

  12. Arr you telling me this woman sees an old friend in the mall that she hasn’t seen for years and she doesn’t give her a hug? And don’t tell me it’s not at school. The places adults go arr regular. Kids go to school, that is regular to them. That is where they obtain social skills and Empathy. You can’t build a school of unemoathic zombies and expect their future to be bright. Some people in position of Authority take their power to another level without the knowledge or input from a child psychologist!

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