Public Schools Want to Ban Best Friends

Joe Scudder
Written by Joe Scudder

They want to ban best friends to make children suffer less emotional stress—because bureaucrats interfering in relationships never causes any stress.

Apparently, there’s an international fad among public school “experts” to ban best friends. Barbara Greenburg, an adolescent, child and family psychologist, writes in U.S. News, “Should Schools Ban Kids From Having Best Friends?” She starts her piece as if she’s reporting on a trend but it soon becomes clear that she is simply an advocate. And she also clearly reveals her motive is ideological.

Many of you will suggest that our kids should toughen up and will become hardier if they learn to deal with the natural shifts in friendships that are inevitable. Perhaps, there is some truth to that. However, I am concerned about the bigger picture, which includes the pain associated with exclusion and the gentle comfort associated with inclusion.


I am a huge fan of social inclusion. The phrase best friend is inherently exclusionary. Among children and even teens, best friends shift rapidly. These shifts lead to emotional distress and would be significantly less likely if our kids spoke of close or even good friends rather than best friends. And, if kids have best friends, does that also imply that they have “worst friends?” A focus on having best friends certainly indicates there’s an unspoken ranking system; and where there is a ranking system, there are problems. I see kids who are never labeled best friends, and sadly, they sit alone at lunch tables and often in their homes while others are with their best friends.

My hope is that if we encourage our kids to broaden their social circles, they will be more inclusive and less judgmental. The word “best” encourages judgment and promotes exclusion.

Nowhere does Greenburg explain how ruling over students’ private thoughts, affections, and loyalties is going to cause students less emotional stress, and make them genuinely more inclusive. How can they be inclusive if no one is allowed to have any bond that they can include others in?

This is totalitarian nonsense and if is going to warp children rather than improve them.

Here’s commentary from five years ago:

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

About the author

Joe Scudder

Joe Scudder

Joe Scudder is the "nom de plume" (or "nom de guerre") of a fifty-ish-year-old writer and stroke survivor. He lives in St Louis with his wife and still-at-home children. He has been a freelance writer and occasional political activist since the early nineties. He describes his politics as Tolkienesque.

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