Addressing Public Display of Affection at School

What is a Public Display of Affection?

Silhouette Couple Kissing At Beach Against Sky During Sunset
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Public Display of Affection—or PDA—includes physical contact including, but not limited to, intimate touching, hand holding, fondling, cuddling, and kissing at school or a school-sponsored activity between two students typically in a relationship. This type of behavior, while innocent on some levels, can quickly devolve into a distraction for the students engaging in the practice, as well as other students who witness these public displays of affection.

PDA Basics

PDA is often considered a public profession of how two people feel about one another. Schools typically see this type of behavior as a distraction and inappropriate for a school setting. Most schools have policies that forbid this type of issue on campus or at school-related functions. Schools typically have a zero-tolerance stance on PDA because they recognize that even innocent displays of affection can turn into something more.

Being overly affectionate can be offensive to many people, though a couple caught up in the moment may not be aware that their actions are offensive. Because of this, schools must educate their students on the issue. Respect is a critical component of character-education programs in schools everywhere. Students who regularly engage in acts of PDA are disrespecting their peers by subjecting them to witnessing their affection. This should be brought to the attention of the over-affectionate couple who were probably too caught up in the moment to consider others who were around them.

Sample PDA Policy

To handle and forbid public displays of affection, schools need first to recognize they have a problem. Unless the school or school district sets specific policies forbidding PDA, they cannot expect students to simply know the practice is forbidden or at least discouraged. Below is a sample policy a school or school district can employ to set a policy on PDAs and prohibit the practice:

Public School XX recognizes that genuine feelings of affection may exist between two students. However, students shall refrain from all Public Displays of Affection (PDA) while on campus or while attending and/or participating in a school-related activity.
Being overly affectionate at school can be offensive and is generally in poor taste. The expression of feelings toward one another is a personal concern between the two individuals and thus should not be shared with others in the general vicinity. PDA includes any physical contact that may make others in close proximity uncomfortable or serves as a distraction for themselves as well as innocent onlookers. Some specific examples of PDA include but is not limited to:

Tips and Hints

Of course, the previous example is just that: an example. It may seem overly harsh for some schools or districts. But, setting a clear policy is the only way to minimize or stop public displays of affection. If students don't know the school or district's view on the issue—or even if the school or district has a policy on public displays of affection—they cannot be expected to abide by a nonexistent policy. Turning away from PDAs is not the answer: Setting a clear policy and consequences is the best solution to creating a school atmosphere that is comfortable for all students and teachers.

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Your Citation
Meador, Derrick. "Addressing Public Display of Affection at School." ThoughtCo, Sep. 9, 2021, Meador, Derrick. (2021, September 9). Addressing Public Display of Affection at School. Retrieved from Meador, Derrick. "Addressing Public Display of Affection at School." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 31, 2023).