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About Bill Allin:

Bill Allin taught primary, junior and intermediate classes of all socio-economic categories for nearly two decades in Canada. As a result of his close work with kids and his unique personal background, he gained an unusual perspective on children’s needs, social skills and coping mechanisms that other professionals have overlooked. He holds a Master of Education degree in sociology from the Ontario Institute of Education, University of Toronto.

Learn more about his unique approach to solving community problems and avoiding personal ones at his book’s web site, BillAllin.com.


Your Most Unrecognized Need: Touch

By Bill Allin


You need touch. Not the way you need money or clean clothes. More like the way you need food.

We tend to think of touching others as something that happens incidentally, either as an accident or a necessary part of some other activity.

Why don’t we think of touch from other people as a basic need, a requirement for our well-being? Our parents and others who influence us as children warn us about other children and adults who try to touch us inappropriately. Parents themselves may be hesitant about touching us for fear of being accused by an ignorant busybody of child molestation. In a culture of fear, the last thing a parent wants is to be accused of mistreating a child.

As with other moral matters that transform themselves into laws and public policy, touch becomes an ON or OFF thing. Some touch is bad, so all touch is avoided, even forbidden in many situations. We need to distinguish between good touch—appropriate touch—and that which is invasive of our personal space or harmful to our emotional well-being.

In one Canadian city, a woman who calls herself The Hug Lady offers hugs to strangers she meets on the street. Her husband died a few years ago and she realized that she missed his touch. Now she offers to hug strangers. Not only do at least 75 percent of them accept her offer, but most express great gratitude after receiving their hug. Two people have better days because of one hug.

One way of enhancing a potential friendship is to touch the prospective friend casually in conversation. Sports teams gain team spirit by frequent hugs—huddles and pats on the behind are acceptable male-to-male touching on the football field. Service clubs often have rituals that involve members touching each other in friendship.

An injured child runs to mother. Does the child really believe that mommy can heal the hurt? No, the child knows that it needs the comfort of a hug in times of unexpected trouble. Unlike dogs and cats who actively seek the touch of humans—we call it patting—human children lack the ability to ask for touch when they need it. Instead they act out, misbehave or seek parental attention in ways that often annoy the parent.

Kids who most need touch from their parents misbehave. We call it attention-seeking. Yet adults teach each other that a child who seeks attention should not receive it for fear that the child will be spoiled. Instead we punish the child for the misbehavior. The irony is positively cruel. We must learn to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate touch, then teach this to everyone in our community. In short, an appropriate touch or hug is one in which both parties agree to participate. It’s a means of giving to someone else, not of taking from them.

In the book Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, author Bill Allin stresses that emotional and social development are both critical to the growth of children. Touch is integral to both emotional and social development.

Children need touch from those who love them as a way of ensuring that those people care. Instead of worrying about whether we give our children and our spouses enough appropriate touch, we should concern ourselves with how they may behave if they don’t get enough. People who lead troubled lives rarely get enough touch. Look around you. Look in the mirror. You may know several people who need a hug today.


Contact Bill Allin:

(705) 657 – 9468



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Bill Allin

R. R. #1 Buckhorn

Ontario K0L1J0