Scottish School Bans Lollipops, Parents Left Confused

Some parents in Scotland are outraged over a primary school’s announcement letting them know that lollipops are no longer welcome at Holy Family School near Glasgow. Neil Pooran in Deadline News tells us that the school protests that it did not intend an all-out ban, but parents feel that it’s just the latest intrusion of the “nanny state.”

Teachers at Holy Family Primary School sent text messages to parents asking that packed lunches from home should not include lollipops. Head teacher Elaine Johnston says that they did not intend a ban, rather they just wanted to discourage parents from sending a treat that they consider unhealthy and possibly hazardous. She cited long-term damage to teeth from sugar, as well as injuries from the nature of the hard candy and its stick. “We’re asking parents for their support,” she explained.

British parents have felt for some time that the government’s Health and Safety department has become too aggressive in banning common amusements, saying that they pose a danger to children. Public frustration rises higher when officials interpret rules to be stricter than the law intended. At different times, hot drinks, yo-yos and knitting needles have all been considered too dangerous, though the government says these were not correct interpretations.

It’s this kind of frustration that seems to lie behind parents’ reaction to the lollipop text warning. Lollipops seem relatively safe, compared to some things that children are permitted or required to use.

One mum, who asked not to be named, said lollipops were the latest in a long line of items effectively banned.

The mother said: “This is bonkers. After all, kids have been eating lollipops at school for years.

“The children are allowed to bring maths sets into school, with sharp compasses inside, yet they’re not allowed a lollipop?

Not all parents see the request as going too far. Founder of the British parents advocacy group Netmums, Siobhan Freegard agrees that managing a large group of children with candies on sticks can lead to accidents.

“Sadly, there have been recent cases of young children chocking to death on lollipops, and dentists have reported injuries from sticks becoming detached and wedged into children’s mouths and throats.

“If you give your child a lollipop at home, it’s likely you are there to watch over them when they eat it and make sure they stay safe.

“But in a busy dining hall or playground, teachers are caring for hundreds of kids and can’t give everyone individual attention.

Although Holy Family School is just one local school, other school administrators may follow its lead and ask to keep candy out of the lunch room. Around the developed world, kids’ trend to obesity has many adults worried. Lunch is only one meal of the day, but schools are trying to keep it as healthy as possible.

In the United States, the USDA’s new lunch guidelines are intended to promote weight loss. As schools and kids have adjusted to the new lunches, which are often long on beans and short on sweets, the USDA is looking to crack down on vending machines and seasonal sales that may bring candy and sweets back in to the lunch room.  There are no rules yet on what food parents can pack and send, though food allergies push some schools to impose local rules on problematic food like peanuts. Many children who used to be content with food purchased at school are now starting to bring food from home, unhappy with the new health guidelines.

02 11, 2013
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