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Schools to Outlaw Best Friendships to Prevent Bullying?

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Guest blogger Elise: For little girls, having a best friend -- a constant companion to pass notes to at school, giggle with on the phone at night and enjoy slumber parties with -- is a rite of passage that morphs into a tradition carried out well into adulthood.

Yet the New York Times reported recently that educators are becoming increasingly skeptical about the notion of "best friends." Some are even wondering whether kids should have a best friend at all; they say that the classic bond is a launching pad for cliques and bullying.

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"I think it is kids' preference to pair up and have that one best friend," Christine Laycob, director of counseling at the Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day School in St. Louis, Mo., told the Times. "As adults -- teachers and counselors -- we try to encourage them not to do that. We try to talk to kids and work with them to get them to have big groups of friends and not be so possessive about friends .... Parents sometimes say Johnny needs that one special friend. We say he doesn't need a best friend."

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Even though school has ended for the summer, the "anti-BFF" movement will continue as certain camps begin to hire so-called "friendship coaches" to help campers become friends with everyone. (If two girls start to routinely pair off, the coaches will separate them, seating them at different tables at lunch or placing them in different activities.)

But is all this just semantics? No matter what modern lingo educators are trying to impose, kids are still going to form strong bonds with one child over another, no matter what. And those friendships will naturally shift year by year, sometimes even month by month. That's just a part of growing up.

By assuming that BFFs will become modern-day "Heathers," we're ignoring the fact that, simply put, kids are different. Forcefully mixing the quiet kids with the aggressive kids with the brainy kids with the silly kids won't encourage genuine bonds. It will just prevent them from developing their own identities -- a natural process born by being able to choose your own social community. What's more, kids will always turn against each other and form exclusive groups. Not only is that normal, but it prepares for them for the hurdles that come later in life.

When you're a child, school can sometimes feel like a war zone. Soon, your kid may not even have a good friend to count on.

Do you think best friends should be outlawed ... or do you think this idea stinks?


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