Hot Topic Tuesday: Displays of Affection


From third through twelfth grade, I went to private schools where, I imagine, some of the rules were a little bit different from many other schools.

One of the rules that became a big deal during my high school years was in regards to displays of affection: couples were not supposed to have physical contact at all, and do so in front of others could result in social restriction, which we called "Social."

Being on Social meant that the two people involved would not be allowed to talk to or be around one another for a given amount of time. (They could, however, write letters.) I think the most common length of Social was two weeks. If a couple broke the rules and were caught together during that time, their punishment would be extended.

Most of the teachers and staff didn't set out to be the Social police (although some truly did), but knowing that there was a risk of punishment made it so that very few students ever flaunted this rule. We couldn't kiss at school (obviously!). We couldn't walk through the halls with our arms around one another. We couldn't hold hands. Hugging one's friends was usually okay, but hugging one's boyfriend or girlfriend could be kind of risky. (My boyfriend and I were once caught in what a teacher described as an "intimate embrace." We didn't get put on Social, but we were officially warned by our principal that that was the next step if we were caught again.)

This didn't mean that the students at my school weren't kissing and all that stuff. It just meant that those of us who didn't live in the dorms did it off campus. Those who did live in the dorms had to be very sneaky indeed.

I remember that during those years, television shows taking place in high school settings (like My So-Called Life) were jarring to me. It was hard for me to believe that teens at other schools could display affection whenever they wanted without fear of punishment. I really hated that the simple act of holding my boyfriend's hand could mean not being allowed to be around him for weeks.

Tell me about your school! Are/were there rules about public displays of affection? How did you feel about it?

15 comments:

JP said...

That's horrible. O_O At my school, NOBODY can touch ANYBODY. Period. (Strict Catholic middle school.) If you are, the first time you just get yelled at. But seriously, that's ridiculous. Did they really think you're not going to do it anyway/later?

Liana said...

you went to boarding school? that's cool. yeah, Social sounds way sucky.

Hannah (Paperback Treasures) said...

Wow, those rules sound crazy! At my school, no one cares - couples kiss in the hallways all the time.

Christine Tyler said...

My school was...very different. I stopped going to dances because kids didn't just bump and grind (if that's not gross enough), but they'd ride each other and hump on their knees.

Yeah.

I stopped using my locker because it was located at a popular corner to make-out between classes. I couldn't get peoples attention enough to get them to move half the time. I admit at one point I grabbed a pair of shoulders and shoved them out of the way--I was so sick of it.

There were even hot spots on campus where kids would go have sex.

And yeah, we had a high pregnancy rate.

So really, it stinks when it's you and you just want to hug your boyfriend when you see him, but I'd rather be able to get to my mathbook without a snorkel.

Christine Tyler said...

And wow, I sound like I'm from "the bad part of town." This was a nice suburban school in Washington State.

Kyle said...

I went to a Catholic high school and we were only supposed to hold hands, although most students would kiss or hug as well since the teachers did not strictly enforce the policy. I remember thinking that it was a such a stupid policy and who cares if I kiss my boyfriend?

NOW, though, I am a high school teacher and let me tell you, I really don't like seeing students kiss/make out in the halls. Our school rule is only hand holding or hugging and I try to enforce it because really, who wants to see teenagers making out? It makes me laugh because I was just in high school 6 years ago and my feelings have changed so much.

Jessie Andersen said...

I went to a public school. Honestly, I don't even remember the official stance on PDAs, but for the most part, if you weren't trying to totally make out in the halls, the teachers were pretty lenient. A quick peck on the lips was okay, but don't let it last longer than a second. Hand holding was fine, even hugs, as long as they didn't get to touchy-feely.

I do remember my boyfriend getting in trouble for trying to grab my butt one day. He didn't think anyone was looking.

Rachael said...

Wow. That's insane. I went to a public high school and we were pretty much the exact opposite. Pretty similar to what Christine described on hers. I'm sure we had a stance on PDA before, but no one knew what it was until this spring when they made an announcement.

When I say exact opposite, I mean exact opposite. I never witnessed it myself (thank God) but I heard rumors of a couple who, at lunch, would make out. I mean full-on girl-sitting-on-guy's-lap making out.

We had teachers who didn't really care and a principal who didn't have the guts to punish anyone. So, basically, almost anything goes at my school.

Lydia Sharp said...

I went to public school (and this was 15+ years ago) -- exact opposite of what you described.

Kids made out wherever and whenever they pleased. The halls were so crowded, though, that you didn't really notice it unless it was right in your face. I don't remember anyone ever being disciplined for it, either.

Then again, we were also one of the first schools in the area to get security cameras in the cafeterias (there were major food fights just about every day... I mean, MAJOR, like ppl were getting seriously injured, or would have to be sent home b/c their clothes were totally destroyed by flying food), and the first to have metal detectors installed at the main entrances (we had a lot of gangs bringing knives and guns to school, and rival gang members would get into serious fights in the halls and cafeterias).

So, I guess the outside environment would be a big factor as well, not just public school vs private school. When kids are getting death threats, the teachers and staff aren't really going to be concerned with innocent PDA....

We Heart YA said...

Wow, haha. I wonder, do some private schools still have rules like that now? Or is it considered too restrictive?

For our part, we went to public schools (there are 4 of us, so the years range from 10 to 20 years ago) and there were rules about PDA, but it was mostly like, "Don't ram your tongue down someone else's throat in the hallway." Holding hands and hugging (briefly) was fine. At dances, kids definitely "grinded" ("ground"??) on one another, but only when the teacher chaperones weren't around to tap them on the shoulder and give them the stink-eye.

Angelina C. Hansen said...

Whoa! This post blew me away, MIndi. Comments, too. I went to a small public high school in a super liberal community (in the late 80s) and don't remember seeing anyone making out or kissing or anything at school outside of holding hands. No rules against it either. We did all the usual things, just not in public, I guess.

HelenL said...

I don't remember having any specific rules on PDA in my high school. I remember couples furiously making out in the hallways and teachers breaking them up, but holding hands and hugging weren't a problem.

Keri Dodson said...

My school was also fairly strict. Rural Texas small town, and we were not even allowed to hold hands. This is still true in the school I work for now (very near the other). We promote a "catch and release" type of hug so combat against the "full on grindage" that can go on sometimes. Some teachers are more vigilant than others, and I notice that some kids are allowed more leway than others too. I'm not sure where I stand on this, but I will say the "Social" punishment sounds a little harsh. But as an educator it is embarassing when visitors are on campus and kids are mugging down in the hallways. I think sometimes we impose rules instead of teaching proper behavior. We also forget that school may be the only place these kids get to see each other at all. But it is- school- so hmmmm... Who knows?? I mean, I walk around in public holding my husband's hand, but I probably wouldn't hug him in a very aggressive (showy?) way in most places.

Ronni said...

While I think certain types of PDA are trashy and definitely don't belong in a school, I don't see how having a set up like SOCIAL is helping either.

A peck on the lips, holding hands, and a hug are fine by me. Straight out making out? Well, I don't think restricting the students from seeing each other is teaching them anything and will just make them sneakier about where they do things.

I don't know. It's a thin line.

Adeeva Afsheen said...

Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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