Teacher’s impromptu haircut on schoolboy sparks debate

Kai Fong
A mother of a 12-year-old boy was so outraged that her son’s teacher had cut his hair an hour before his PSLE oral exam that she filed a police report the same day. (AFP file photo)
A mother of a 12-year-old boy was so outraged that her son’s teacher had cut his hair an hour before his PSLE oral exam that she filed a police report the same day. (AFP file photo)

Should teachers be allowed to cut their students’ hair without parental consent?

Parents Yahoo! Singapore spoke to said “no” and that the school should inform them before any actions are taken.

Mdm Lim, a 43 year-old accounts executive and a mother of two, said, “It’s not up to the teacher to cut my child’s hair,” she said.  “I can always take time off to bring my son for a haircut since the school’s regulation is so strict.”

“If it happens to my son, I’ll definitely be angry,” echoed Leslie Goh, a 44-year-old optician.

“I don’t know the specific rules and regulations, or whether the teacher has the capacity to cut a student’s hair, but if she did it without informing the parents, it’s way off.”

“We’re not living in the past anymore,” the father of two said, before adding that most parents are “only a phone call away” and that “it shouldn’t be difficult”.

Both parents were reacting to the case involving how a student at Unity Primary School in Choa Chu Kang had his unkempt hair cut by his school teacher last week, just before his PSLE Oral exam.

POLICE REPORT

Local media reported that the mother of the 12-year-old boy was so outraged that she filed a police report the same day.

In a statement obtained by Yahoo! Singapore, the school’s principal, Jasmail Singh Gill said Primary 6 students had already been warned to have their hair cut. Reminder letters were also sent out to parents two days before the exam for students to “look neat”.

When contacted, a spokesman for the Ministry of Education (MOE) said “it provides schools with a set of guidelines in the management of school discipline” and that schools are free to formulate their own school rules based on their school context and needs.

Another parent Yahoo! Singapore interviewed, sales executive Ann Goh, 54, saw the issue as “a small problem”.

“I wouldn’t be angry if it was my child, provided the hair cut was just a trim and that it was done only after the exams” the mother of a 13-year-old said.

“Students are very stressed out during the exams period, why not take the disciplinary actions after that?” she suggested.

Goh then questioned, “Could it also be the boy’s behaviour? Maybe it wasn’t the first time the teacher has had problems with his hair, has he already been warned many times?”

“Sometimes, children have to be punished for them to learn their lessons.”

‘SEVERAL WARNINGS FIRST’
A teacher Yahoo! Singapore spoke to also agreed that the Unity Primary teacher should have sought permission from the boy’s parents first.

Miss Lim, a 23-year-old primary school teacher, said, “It was definitely inappropriate that she chose the wrong time to do it. But I think she did it in good intentions.”

“The more diplomatic way is always to seek parental consent first. It’s a form of respect for both the parents and the pupil,” she added.

Lim explained that it usually takes at least three warnings before a student in her school is sent to a parent volunteer to have his or her hair cut.

Parents will be notified beforehand, nonetheless.