Physical Contact with Students and Other Staff Members

It is the policy of Launch that no teacher or staff member will use corporal punishment against a student. This prohibition includes spanking, slapping, pinching, hitting or the use of any other physical force as retaliation or correction for inappropriate behavior. While the use of appropriate touching is part of daily life and is important for student development, a teacher and staff member must ensure that they do not exceed appropriate behavior. If a child or other staff member specifically requests that he or she not be touched, then that request must be honored without question. If the child or other staff member has not requested that they not be touched, then the following forms of touching are considered appropriate:

  • Pats on the shoulder or back
  • Hand-shakes
  • “High fives” and hand slapping
  • Touching face to check temperature, wipe away a tear
  • Holding hands while walking with small children or children with significant disabilities
  • Arms around shoulders
  • Reasonable self-defense
  • Reasonable defense of another
  • Reasonable restraint of a violent person to protect others or property

Except as discussed above, the following forms of touching are never appropriate:

  • Inappropriate or lengthy embraces
  • Kissing
  • Corporal punishment
  • Sitting students on one’s lap
  • Touching buttocks, chests or genital areas
  • Pushing a person or another person’s body part (other than in self-defense, defense of another or property)
  • Showing affection in isolated areas
  • Wrestling with students or other staff-members
  • Bench-pressing another person
  • Tickling
  • Piggyback rides
  • Massages
  • Any form of unwanted affection
  • Any form of sexual contact
  • Poking fingers at another person that results in an offensive contact
  • words alone may be sufficient to violate this policy if the words uttered were such that under the circumstances it could be reasonably assumed that physical contact would be attempted

This policy does not prohibit touching a student for the purpose of guiding him/her along a physical path, helping after a fall, engaging in a rescue or the application of Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) or other emergency first-aid. Nor does it prohibit the use of reasonable force and touching in self-defense, in the defense of another, restraining a child who is trying to engage in violent or inappropriate behavior, or to protect valuable property. In all of these instances, though, use of excessive force is prohibited.

Violation of this policy could subject the teacher or staff member to discipline to include termination for cause. The victim may also choose to bring civil or criminal charges against the violator. It is impossible to define each and every instance when touching is inappropriate. Teachers and staff members should apply the rules of common sense in the circumstances in which they find themselves dealing with sensitive situations involving physical contact with students.