Touch In School

A revolutionary strategy for replacing bullying
with respect and for reducing violence

Foreword by Joseph Chilton Pearce
Sylvie Hétu & Mia Elmsäter
PDF leaflet

On visiting America years ago, Alfred Tomatis, the French physician whose pioneering research into hearing, speech, movement and learning is a classic, remarked on the “touch-starved American child,” by now an old story and far worse than in Tomatis’ day. Today, as David Elkind recently pointed out, research into a child’s neural-physical growth and development has extended our knowledge far beyond that of any previous generation, while we have miserably failed to apply any of this vast new research, even as the “crisis in childhood” grows daily.

The issue is: how do we, how can we, apply this vast array of new research? A dismaying flood of books relating to this subject and what to do about it are sent to me from many quarters, most hopelessly complex or over simplified, but, here, in this astonishingly thorough yet simple work lies the answer, one that stands out above the rest and calls out for a full response from all of us. This book, Touch in Schools, offers a wealth of critical information, given in so eminently simple, useful and practical form, that, when the equally simple answer-application is spelled out one can only ask: Why hasn’t this been done before?

The research and references given by Mia Elmsäter and Sylvie Hétu, drawing on a rapidly expanding field, are impressive, sound, and current. Above all, the application of this knowledge to the direct daily life of the child is brilliant, practical, and long overdue. Again and again we might wonder why this obvious, common-sense approach hasn’t been thought of and applied before, although, of course, I find that variations of it have been employed for some time now by the Scandinavian countries – where they have the odd habit of listening to, observing and applying what their scientists and child-research studies reveal.



Introduction: When Children Shoot Children

Part One: Philosophy

Toward Social Change
Education is in Trouble
Simply Simple
No Time?
Children: Who Are They?

Part Two: Putting the Truth on the Table

The Sense of Touch
Touch and Culture
An Oxytocin Kick
Fight or Flight
Ways of Learning
Touch and Emotions
Bonding and Attachment
Beyond Guilt and Shame

Part Three: The Massage in Schools Programme

The Vision
Origins of the Programme
Has the MISP Been Researched?
Key Characteristics of the Programme

Part Four: For All the Best Reasons

Can Something This Good Be Healthy?
Making the Teacher’s Life Easier
Comments and Observations from Teachers
One for All and All for One…
Benefits of the MISP for the Entire School
Can It Get any Better than This?
Observations and Research/Studies
Child Protection

Part Five: Making It Happen …Applications

What is the Programme?
The Massage In Schools Programme Routine
How Does It Work?
When to Use the Routine
The Importance of Rhythm
Implementation of the Routine
Touch, Movement, and School Subjects
Touch Games and Activities
Special Situations
Especially for Parents
Comments and Observations from Parents
Beyond Reward and Punishment



“A wonderful and necessary book which proposes an approach that will help thousands of children to establish healthy relationships with one another. Without doubt this book and its associated programme will help to bring balance to the affectionate bonds which all children need in order to thrive emotionally and socially.”
Sir Richard Bowlby, Educationalist, lecturer, film producer (Bonding and attachment)

“This book is the latest in literature that can promote child massage and its importance to the notion of nurturing touch in our world. There is nothing more important, in my opinion, with regards to the growth and development of healthy human beings and thus healthy human societies.”
Vimala McClure Author, Infant Massage: A Handbook for Loving for Loving Parents; founder, International Association of Infant Massage

“There is a wonderful development in schools across the globe towards becoming extensions of the family; friendly places where people care for each other, and learning is undertaken with energy and delight. So this rather startling idea - that children can show love and care for each other through touch and massage - suddenly seems obvious. You have to wonder - why did we not think of this years ago? Perhaps because we almost sacrificed our humanity, and are just getting it back.”
Steve Biddulph, Psychologist and author, The Secret of Happy Children and Raising Boys

“Touch is the most fundamental means of communication, yet 21st century paranoia can cut children off from physical contact with other human beings. This hugely important book shows how they can ‘make contact’ and ‘keep in touch’ with their peers, and so recreate the basis of human social interaction and mental health.”
Sue Palmer, Author of Toxic Childhood and 21st Century Boys

“This book, Touch in Schools, offers a wealth of critical information, given in so eminently simple, useful and practical form, that, when the equally simple answer-application is spelled out one can only ask: Why hasn’t this been done before?”
Joseph Chilton Pearce, Author, educationalist