Enforcing discipline is part of a teacher’s duty but did this one go too far? A mother lodged a police report against a teacher who cut her son’s hair before his PSLE exam without parental consent. Find out how this unorthodox action is raising hackles between parents and teachers.
A mother has filed a police report after her 12-year-old son’s teacher cut his hair an hour before his PSLE oral exam. The boy’s mother, Madam Serene Ong, is infuriated that the teacher did this just before an important exam, and that it was done without her knowledge and permission — and that it ruined the boy’s $60 haircut.
Madam Ong claimed the teacher, Ms Belinda Cheng of Unity Primary School, threatened to deduct marks from the boy’s exam results if he refused to have his hair cut.
Prior warning given
The school’s principal, Jasmail Singh Gill, said all Primary 6 students had already been warned to have their hair cut. It was reported that reminder letters were also sent out to parents two days before the exam commenced, for students to “look neat”. However, the school’s principal, Mrs Jasmail Singh Gill, has sided with Madam Ong, and reportedly said that the teacher had no business cutting the boy’s hair.
Splitting hairs over teacher’s action
The disciplinary action carried out by Ms. Cheng has divided opinion between parents and educators — who ask whether a teacher has any right to cut a student’s untidy hair. Debate has been sparked online, with some parents condemning the severity of the teacher’s actions, while others offered their views on how they would have handled the situation:
Madam Lim, 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,” stated Leslie Goh, a 44-year-old optician and father of two children.
Ann Goh, a mother of one child, did not see the punishment as severe, and added that, “I wouldn’t be angry if it was my child, provided the haircut was just a trim and that it was done only after the exams”
One reader wrote to The Straits Times and questioned the mother’s reaction towards her son’s punishment:
“What baffled me was the mother’s remarks that her son dared not step out of the house for two days because the haircut embarrassed his looks. Consequently, she spent another $60 for his hair to be restyled.”
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Discipline and punishment — not clear cut issues
The furore over the boy’s impromptu pre-PSLE haircut highlights the murky line between discipline and punishment. A school has the right to enforce discipline and needs the close co-operation of its students’ parents to do so. However, parents are naturally concerned and will object if a school’s punishment deemed to be out of line. Perhaps greater involvement is required from both parents and teachers when it comes to good behaviour in schools today.