Students In School Uniform Banned From Entering Shopping Malls - Good Idea?

We have had enough of the hairstyle rule already. No spikes, no sideburns, and no fringe touching the eyebrows- that is the disciplinary slogan our teachers carry whenever the hair check date draws nearer. Students protest but to no avail. You are not in school to make a fashion statement, the discipline mister or mistress would always rebut.

Now, schools are looking forward to implement a new rule. Students may not be allowed to enter shopping malls or even stroll around the housing estates in their school uniforms anymore. It is a deliberate move to protect the reputation of the school. The new rule has received strong support by parents but faces widespread condemnation by students.

Students feel that the new rule is clipping their wings. Nonetheless, parents believe that the regulation can help prevent their children from mixing with the wrong group and loitering aimlessly outside school. They cited examples of students seen smoking and behaving intimately with their partners in public to back up their opinions.

We decided to start a forum thread in our online school portal requesting for opinions from TPJCians about this issue. Below are four of the best responses that we receive:

'I guess it is time for a former Coral Sec student to answer to this. First of all, the reasons why the school disallows students from going to White Sands. Apparently there are complaints from security guards, mall visitors, store keepers and others that the students are smoking outside the mall and running and fooling around in the shopping mall. Moreover, apparently the complaints come a few times every week, as a lot of our morning assemblies include lectures on our behaviour outside school.

Well personally, as both a student at that time and an alumnus now, I still do not see any of the students doing the things that they are being accused of. What I saw were normal students having lunch at McDonald's or other food outlets although occasionally they might have talked very loudly or just plainly hanging out. The only misbehaviour I have noticed is the inappropriate attire (shirt tucked out) they displayed in public.

Maybe the reason why I did not see any of the students committing the "crimes" that the public have accused us of is because of the ban. However, the rules the school has enforced on us after receiving are really just too extreme.

First, at the beginning, the ban does not just include White Sands Shopping Mall; it is a ban that disallows students to loiter under void decks for a 500m-1km radius around the school. Teachers, mostly almost all from the discipline committee, are sent out right after school ends to catch students loitering. Daily, around three to five would go to White Sands while others would go around neighbourhood search for students loitering in their school uniforms. I even spot teachers twice at Downtown East as well.

Next, the only place in White Sands students are allowed to go to is the library. What's more, they have to find the discipline mistress in school, give her their names and class to inform her that after school, the are heading to the library. And according to the school, "go straight up to the library and do not even stay at a shop for even a second".

Even more absurd, if you all have been to White Sands before, you will know that you can cut through White Sands to the MRT station for a short-cut from the back entrance to the main entrance. The school forbids student from taking that route. Sometimes, a teacher would stay at the second storey, looking down, and if anyone tries cutting through White Sands, the teacher would immediately take action. No excuses will be accepted from the student as the rules strictly says "students are not allowed to go to White Sands Shopping Mall in uniform" (its even in our handbook). And there is no running away if you are being spotted. Teachers who failed to catch up with the students to confront them on time will remember their appearance and on the following school day, will go through every class searching for him or her.

Moreover, security guards are asked to help turn in the students that loiter in White Sands.'
- Wong Wen Bin Stanford (08S20)

'Ultimately, I feel that this rule of not allowing students in uniform at shopping centres or around housing estates is void because the students will still spend their time in those places, with or without uniform. The only difference is that the public may not know which school these students come from and hence prevents the school from having a notorious reputation for students hanging out at the mall or nearby housing estates.

However, the root of the problem is still not solved, as students will still be hanging out at the places as mentioned and doing the things that they used to without their school uniforms. Eventually, the school's reputation will still be tarnished overtime. Instead, I feel that the school should carry out active measures to convince students that there are better ways to spend their time such as by doing revision, participating more actively in their CCAs and more.'
-Foo Chuan Sing Georgina (09S03)

'Seriously, how much 'face' can the school save when they impose such a rule. Not much. I didn't read the article. However, I do not accept any reason they suggested.

If the main assumption here is that all, if not most, of the trouble caused by the students happen at the malls or in the void decks, then that is not true. They can happen in food centres which are outside or far away from the malls. They can happen in public transport. They can also happen within the school, visible to the people living in that area. So are they actually being a bit hypocritical. You can go home in school uniform but not anywhere else in them. So why not ban students from wearing school uniform outside school?

If they wanted them to spend more time studying, then the ban will not help. It will probably stop the students from directly going to the places after school, but it won't hinder them from doing what they want. Perhaps if they go home earlier, they will sleep all the way.

The greater solution to this (not best though) is to change the public notion. They need to change their mindset when looking at things. We can't say that if one person does this, then all the other people belonging to the same group does it too.'
- Seng Leng Kiat (08S11)

'Well, certainly Coral Secondary School does not want students to spend their time aimlessly around the malls and HDB estates (or just anywhere out of school). The intended action is supposed to deal with those who "hangs out anywhere out of school", and trying to make sure that students do not make any trouble outside school. Or at least, that was the only brief answer given to The New Paper.

It is true that many students do stay out of school aimlessly with their friends (sometimes attracting a lot of attention, and sometimes disgracing the school), but it does not serve as a good reason why students should be banned from staying out of school in their school uniforms. We are given the choice to choose to spend our free time on whatever we wished to, and the intervention of schools can very much affect our private lives. Somehow, the schools will be intruding our private time and space that we have and deserve.

Yes, none of the teachers, parents or Principals (and me as a student) will approve youngsters to behave like hooligans in public. However, banning the students from entering recreational and public sites seems to say that we, the students, are potential trouble makers.

If the school decides to lift the ban and trust the students instead, I think it will be a far better solution to the problem. The best way to remedy the complication (in my own opinion), is to impart positive moral values into the students and coach them to apply them in real life. Even after they had done something wrong, it is best to do a follow up. By banning them, they will not learn anything at all. However if the school lifts the ban, it may be a chance for them to learn from their mistakes.

Furthermore, rules should be grounded on a common sense, and because of that, it encourages compliance and respect. Impractical rules invites mockery from the public's eye and is largely likely to spark defiance in students. Trust and mutual respect are important in communication between everyone, and it could serve as a base for conduct. If Coral Secondary School were to trust and respect their students, it is also likely that the students would respect their own school and not make trouble outside the school compound.'
- Fong Guo Wei (09A07)


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