PDAs Not a Problem for High Schools

Students are following policies limiting in-school affection to hand-holding and hugs.

Everyone remembers the couples who were always together at break times, lunch and before and after school. The ones who were caught kissing in corners, and who walked the halls with their hands in each others' pockets.

It seemed someone was always pushing the limits of acceptable public displays of affection. With Valentine's Day this week, Patch checked in to see what the prevailing trends are in some area high schools. 

The policies are fairly consistent across districts, with hand-holding and hugging allowed—but officials frowning upon much more than that.

's policy is that students "shall not" engage in physical displays of affection inappropriate for a public setting. School personnel use their "professional judgment" to determine the inappropriateness of students' actions, and if students go too far, they could be disciplined—with consequences up to and including suspension. 

allows hand-holding, and outlines disciplinary options from verbal warnings to expulsion, depending on the severity of the misbehavior. The handbook doesn't specifically list acts that could get students in trouble, except to say indecent exposure is grounds for immediate suspension. 

In Racine, the district prohibits disruptive, distracting, inappropriate or indecent behavior, including "inappropriate and/or sexually explicit dancing." The people Patch talked to, representing the district's three large high schools, said they don't see students' behavior going beyond what is acceptable. 

At Washington Park High School, Activities Director Jeff Miller said holding hands and a "quick kiss at the door when they walk to class" is fine. He said things have improved at the school over the past five years.

"It was really bad in the mid-2000s, but like sagging pants, seems to be on a downward trend," Miller said. "It's just not as bad now for whatever reason. PDA and behavior overall seems to be trending back to the appropriate end of the spectrum."

Directing Principal Jeff Eben said the situation here is different from California, where hallways are outdoors and all the blooming flowers seem to invite and encourage overt displays of affection. PDAs are hardly apparent in the hallways of Case, he said, and he has never had a student in his office for "going too far" in the hallways.

Horlick High School senior Rina Rebecchi said the policy against PDAs is pretty clear at school, where hand-holding and hugging is allowed, but "kissing is a little excessive." But at the dances, things get a little more heated.

"(The dance policy) isn't very effective," she said. "They allow people to practically fornicate on the dance floor."

She said the policies don't really seem to impact what students will do. "If people really want to do something, they'll be more sneaky and get away with it."

's formal rules prohibit "excessive" displays of affection in the halls or on school grounds, and the school defines excessive as "anything beyond hand-holding or a kiss on the cheek," according to Whitnall High School Principal Anthony Brazouski.

But it isn't typically a problem.

"In all honesty, our students have been very respectful of this particular rule, and I have witnessed very little 'excessive affection.'"

When he has seen students whose behavior has  bordered on their expectations, he's ready. 

"I have simply asked them to take it easy and head off to class," he said. "Students are very responsive and respectful. Two of my favorite lines are 'If you really love each other, then you wouldn't let the other be late for class,' or 'Kissing is cliche, but a super secret handshake is way more original.'"

Denise Lockwood February 15, 2012 at 04:58 AM
Actually the PTA hired a ballroom dancing instructor. It was really interesting watching the kids. West Milwaukee has a pretty high poverty rate and a lot of racial diversity. I think it really engaged the kids on a lot of different levels. The teacher said the kids not only treated each other differently because they were focused on socializing, but they developed a mutual respect towards one another that carried over into the classroom. It also modeled more appropriate behavior.
Jan Getz February 16, 2012 at 05:55 AM
What's with the teacher-bashing? It's been "open-season" on that group of people long enough now!
Sandy February 17, 2012 at 02:50 AM
Not bashing teachers, expressing disappointment that there is no respect in the classroom or schools when it comes to language. You want to teach kids respect for others by not displaying PDA's but there is no talk about other things that are just as disrespectful and being done frequently by the teachers themselves. They want you to hold them to high standards and be happy to pay their salaries but some give no respect to the students or parents by cleaning up their mouths, caring about their classroom and actually being concerned when a student is failing. I am talking from personal experience here. If they don't want to be exposed, don't give anyone a reason to.
C. Sanders February 17, 2012 at 03:19 AM
Nothing like a good chicken dance to calm the hormones.
Cheryl Sanders February 17, 2012 at 03:49 AM
Disclaimer: Whomever "C. Sanders" is, I take no responsibility for his/her comments. Although personally I have no problem with the chicken dance either.


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