Students hug each other in protest at NC middle school

Posted: Updated:
Chase Middle School is located on Chase High Road in Forest City. (Oct. 1, 2012/FOX Carolina) Chase Middle School is located on Chase High Road in Forest City. (Oct. 1, 2012/FOX Carolina)
FOREST CITY, NC (FOX Carolina) -

How far is too far when it comes to touching at school?

This isn't about sexual harassment, but seemingly innocent hugging between friends.

Chase Middle School in Forest City, NC, told its eighth-graders that a friendly embrace is not allowed.

It all started last week when eighth-grader Parker Jackson was picked up by an ambulance after having a seizure in school. He returned to school the next day and was greeted with lots of hugs.

He said at lunch, the assistant principal told them hugging wasn't allowed. That night, Jackson and his friends made a Facebook group, and came to school the next day ready to hug in protest.

Jackson said the same day, the principal met with the eighth-graders.

"She was like, ‘y'all have no rights to that, even though y'all think you do,' it was very inappropriate, and that if any teachers catch us hugging that we would get (in-school suspension)," Jackson said.

When asked for comment Monday, an employee for the Rutherford County School District superintendent's office said public displays of affection (PDA) were off limits.

The Rutherford County Schools Middle School Policy Handbook does not mention "PDA."

The policy said it is prohibited to engage in "behavior which is immoral, indecent, lewd, disreputable or of an overly sexual nature in the school setting."

The only mention of touching is when it comes to sexual harassment: "unauthorized and unwanted intentional touching, or attempt to touch, by one person of the sex organ of the other."

Tuesday, the superintendent, Dr. Janet Mason, said there is no hugging ban at Chase Middle School.

"We don't want kids not to be friendly to each other, but there is a line for appropriate touch in school and what's not," said Mason.

She said it's not unusual for teachers or principals to remind students about appropriate and inappropriate touching, and to keep hands to themselves, which is what the discussion was last week.

Copyright 2012 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.