Opinion: UK Bans Best Friends
April 17, 2012
I’ll never forget meeting my childhood best friend on the first day of kindergarten. We sat on the same bench waiting for our parents to pick us up after school. We were the only girls left, sporting our matching plaid uniforms and Pippi Longstocking pigtails. We sat an awkwardly safe distance of six feet apart, not talking to anyone (boys had cooties, of course). Unexpectedly, she pulls out her coloring book and asks me to help her color her favorite princess. I gladly accepted the invitation, and we’ve been friends ever since. Adorable, right?
We all have our childhood best friends. The attached-at-the-hip, inseparable, we-can’t-live-without-each-other, kind of friend. For some, these friendships have stayed strong through thick and thin. For others, time, distance, or disagreements stood in the way. In either case, try to imagine your childhood without this accomplice. Everything seems to change.
Select schools throughout the U.K. have decided to ban children from making best friends. This effort attempts to curb bullying and protect children from the pain of losing a friend. Instead, schools are encouraging children to interact as a group.
According to The Sun, educational psychologist Gaynor Sbuttoni said, “They are doing it because they want to save the child the pain of splitting up from their best friend. But it is natural for some children to want a best friend. If they break up, they have to feel the pain because they’re learning to deal with it.”
There seems to be an ever-growing theme in schools to protect kids from any kind of pain. However, nurturing children in a bubble is merely shielding them from reality.
Therefore, few are in agreement with this new rule. The most obvious concern is the manner in which this rule is going to be enforced; it would be nearly impossible to implement, especially outside of school.
In addition, a New Jersey Middle School recently banned hugging.
CBS wrote that the school’s principal announced, “hugging can be inappropriate and we want to make sure that there’s no inappropriate physical contact. We certainly do not have a policy against hugging nor do we intend to or have we suspended students for hugging.” The school wants the students to stay focused on academics and save the public displays of affection for home.
I am in accord with the majority as I believe that this rule is unnecessary. While I do recognize that learning to interact in a group setting is very important, it is also crucial to learn how to work and communicate with others one-on-one. There are more effective ways to teach children how to work with others than to deprive them of their comfort. Whether best friends or bear hugs, schools should let kids enjoy being kids.