It is wrong to humiliate students over their preferred haircut
Recently, incidents involving the forced cutting of students’ hair has gained attention on social media. First, there’s this case involving three gay students who had to cut their hair short in time for the opening of school year 2022-2023 last August.
And last week, a video showing a teacher cutting the hair of one student in front of the entire class has gone viral on Tiktok. It is unfortunate that these things are happening. Forcibly cutting students’ hair, moreso if done in front of others, can be considered a form of corporal punishment.
The Department of Education (DepEd) has been constantly reminding teachers that punishments which used to be acceptable decades ago like forcing students to kneel on mongo beans, squatting with books on their arms, or hitting them with rattan stick can now be a basis for them to lose their jobs. It is easy to see why.
First of all, it is a violation of the law, specifically Republic Act 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act of 1992. Corollary to this legal provision is Article VIII, section 8 of the Code of Ethics for Professional Teachers which stipulates that teachers “shall not inflict corporal punishment on offending learners.”
According to DepEd’s child protection policy first published in 2012, corporal punishment is defined as a “kind of punishment or penalty imposed for an alleged or actual offense, which is carried out or inflicted, for the purpose of discipline, training or control, by a teacher, school administrator, an adult, or any other child who has been given or has assumed authority or responsibility for punishment or discipline. It includes physical, humiliating or degrading punishment.”
Secondly and more importantly, researches conducted by educational psychologists around the world have shown that apart from potentially causing serious physical injuries, violent disciplinary methods can also impact students’ academic achievement and long-term well-being. It is possible that students who’ve experienced humiliating punishments in front of their classmates will never go to school anymore due to psychological trauma.
Speaking to the Bangkok Post, Thai adolescent medicine specialist Dr, Jiraporn Arunakul explained that forced haircuts actually belittle students’ self-esteem. “Schools should be a happy place for students to learn, not a place to punish those who want to express themselves via their hairstyles,” she said.
She added: “I don’t think that strict regulation of hairstyles is related to disciplinary training as so many people claimed. Hairstyle is not an indicator of learning efficiency. We need to change as cutting hair to fit the old rules has destroyed one way for children to learn more about themselves.”