Several months ago, there was a controversy when two Portland area preteen boys were arrested and tried as sex offenders for allegedly slapping the rear ends of several girls (who were allegedly doing the same thing towards the boys, but were not punished for it). When I talked about this with friends, I often was told that it was a freak event and that I should stop harping on the public schools so much. I'm afraid I don't buy that, and the mix of political correctness and a psychological desire for school officials to feel powerful over children has lead to a scenario where kids are at constant risk of any of their behavior potentially leading to disciplinary action.
The next case in point is a 13 year old girl, Megan Coulter, in Illinois who was slapped with two days of detention for hugging. While this is not as traumatic as the child abuse the boys in Oregon received, it is a result of the same mean-spirited mindset.
The superintendent of the district Coulter attends, Sam McGowen, told CNN that "Hugs lead to other things." We can only assume that McGowen is a man who has not experienced much love in his life.
Coulter was interviewed by CNN as well, and cited that in sixth grade she had attended a D.A.R.E. program at the same school that had a motto of "hugs, not drugs." Has that program been removed from the curriculum?
One of the biggest factors in my adopting a libertarian ideology was going through a public school system that was hard to take seriously. I was disciplined by staff that had obviously higher standards for children than they did for themselves, and these mixed messages made their authority hard to take seriously. If public schools continue to send mixed messages, and punishing kids for policies that don't make any sense, children will grow up with cloudy and muddy notion of right and wrong and the credibility of the public schools will continue to deteriorate to levels even lower than they have now.