Originally created 04/27/04

Teens disagree on displaying their affection in public



A kiss is just a kiss, until everybody sees it. Then it becomes a public display of affection - and a point of contention.

"You can hold hands in public, but when it gets to the point when you're kissing and all over each other, it just totally grosses me out," said Lindsay Smith, 15. "And I know it does for other people, too."

The Evans High School sophomore said that in her trips to the mall, the movies, school and beyond, it's common to see couples get too close.

Just because it's common doesn't mean she likes it.

"No one wants to see it; no one wants to watch it," she said.

Still there are others, such as Precious Flowers, 15, who see no harm in it.

"If you're sitting there hugging and kissing, then it ain't no problem," said the freshman at Academy of Richmond County. "It's cute."

Lindsay isn't quite sold on the "cute" factor, noting that there "is a line you can draw between what is too much."

Precious concedes that sometimes couples can take it too far.

"It is a limit to it," she said. "I don't want to see them all over each other."

Neither do school officials. School policies on public displays of affection vary, but there are usually consequences.

Depending on the situation, Richmond County students who are too public with their affections can be punished under rules in place over disturbing class or committing lewd acts, according to Mechelle Jordan, the district's public relations officer.

In Columbia County schools, public displays of affection are deemed unacceptable in the student code of conduct. Penalties are left to the discretion of principals.

"If it gets into physically touching and groping, I think the principal will handle it," said Bill Morris, the assistant superintendent of student services for Columbia County schools.

Although Mr. Morris said he hasn't heard of public displays of affection being a problem, he did say students aren't let off the hook.

"We tell them this is not the time or place. We remind them that they are in school and it's not acceptable behavior."

Schools aren't the only places teens get affectionate.

Ashleigh Johnson, 17, and her boyfriend, Mack Rutland, 18, feel that being in public is no reason not be affectionate.

"We do it all the time," the Midland Valley High School senior said. "We don't think there's anything wrong with it."

Although some people would call her crass, Ashleigh said she isn't convinced that what she does is all that bad.

"I mean, I would kiss him in front of my mom. We're comfortable like that," she added.

Ashleigh realizes some things are best kept private, though.

"I wouldn't (completely) make out with him or anything," she said. "We respect people enough not to be all down each other's throats."

Until there's a law against it, Lindsay said, the discretion of couples will have to be enough.

"If they were on my property, I'd say something, but if they're in the mall, I feel like it will be out of my hands."

TAKES ON PDA

"Personally, I don't think there's nothing wrong with it. As long as it's a certain limit."
- Jessica Davidson , 16, sophomore, Academy of Richmond County

"I think PDA is all right as long as the couple exhibits some decency. A peck on the cheek or a quick hug is simply adorable, but making out in the halls is completely uncalled for. Get a room."
- Michelle Metternich, 17, senior, Evans High School

"No, it ain't no problem. Everybody do it."
- Detwan Lam b , 16, sophomore, Academy of Richmond County