"Touching and physical contact is very dangerous territory," said Noreen Hajinlian, principal of George G. White School, a junior high school in Hillsdale, N.J., which banned hugging. "It wasn't a greeting. It was happening all day."
Hajinlian's school is among those from New Jersey to Bend, Ore., that have clamped down on hugging, The New York Times reported Saturday.
Ritual hugging has become so popular that students feel pressured to partake, said Gabrielle Brown, a freshman at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School in New York.
"If somebody were to not hug someone, to never hug anybody, people might be just a little wary of them and think they are weird or peculiar," Brown said.
The phenomenon reflects how physical boundaries have changed, said Amy Best, a sociologist at George Mason University.
"We display bodies more readily, there are fewer rules governing body touch and a lot more permissible access to other people's bodies," Best said.