Should schools be allowed to cut the hair of its pupils?

Xavier Lur

A secondary school’s disciplinary act of giving one of its students a haircut has sparked debate.
 
This after a secondary 2 student of Springfield Secondary School had about 7cm of his hair cut off, supposedly for turning up to school with long hair styled to the side, even though his mother claims her son had gone for a trim four days before the school reopened.
 
The enraged mum, 43-year-old Madam Yeo, proclaimed: "Who gave the teacher the authority to do such damage?" after school’s forced haircut left her son with uneven patches on his head.
 
She has since lodged a complaint to the Ministry of Education in the case which was first reported by The New Paper.
 
Yahoo! Singapore understands that most secondary schools here have a policy that allows teachers to cut students' hair if it is of an unacceptable length (such as being over the collar).
 
But it usually does so only when students refuse to get their hair trimmed despite repeated warnings. Even then, they will either engage a barber or the school's discipline master will do the job.
 
Schools with such a rule include Evergreen Secondary School, Hai Sing Catholic School, and Ngee Ann Secondary School, according to students studying there.
 
Grace Ong, 16, an ex-student of Evergreen Secondary School, told Yahoo! Singapore that students are informed one or two days prior to a spot check, and if a student's hair is of an unacceptable length or style, the school's discipline master will cut it.
 
Secondary 2 student Zilazamira, 14, from Hai Sing Catholic School, said a warning will be given beforehand, but if the student ignores it, the school will then intervene. An English teacher from the school, who declined to be named, has confirmed with Yahoo! Singapore that such a policy is in place.
 
"We will first give a warning, but if they don't listen, the school will cut it for them, and parents will be informed subsequently," the teacher said.
 
Netizens voice their views
 
The case has also sparked debate on social media.
 
Part-time sales promoter, Zheng Bolin, 19, told Yahoo Singapore over Twitter that: "Definitely no (to schools cutting hair), as students are supposed to be able to make the choice by themselves, and not being forced to make it by a higher authority."
 
On the other hand, Joyce Ang, a mother of three, believes that if repeated warnings were given to students, she does not see the reason why schools should not intervene.
 
"A school has its set of rules and regulations, and if a student flouts it and refuses to obey it, I think that the school should be allowed to do what's necessary, including cutting the hair of students," said the 46-year-old civil engineer.
 
Twitter user Terence Yeo, 48, a general manager, said he supports such a policy, but feels that students' hair should be cut by a proper barber on standby with him paying on the spot, instead by a teacher.
 
At the end of the day, the matter comes down to  how far schools can go to enforce discipline versus the parental responsibilities over their own children.
 
But where do you draw the line?