'Why I enforce the no piercings rule at school'

I love piercings but in school they are a health and safety nightmare and a distraction, writes teacher Katie White

Piercings pose all sorts of health and safety issues in school, writes Katie White

Let me tell you about one of my strongest memories of school. It was the 1980s and naval piercing was totally en vogue. These piercings were – obviously – not allowed in school, but clearly no teachers were going to check and so it was easy to hide.

Except for in PE. To be specific, trampolining. Going to school in the heart of the city, everyone dreaded PE as it involved a 40-minute, vomity coach journey to a field “somewhere”, where we slowly dragged some ancient “stuff” that had been taken out of a very decrepit and spidery store cupboard, chucked a ball about for about five minutes and then got bundled back on to the coach to go back to school.

Hooked on piercings

So, rain (ergo trampolining) was viewed very positively. That is, until someone (I won’t name names) decided to demonstrate a new-found ability to do a belly jump (there is definitely a more technical name for that) and her new navel piercing linked into the trampoline’s mesh and then... you get the rest.

Trampolining stopped after that. So did my insistence on wearing every piece of facial and body piercing that I had to school. Because, well – it’s school.

To be fair, I have got nothing against teenagers dressing, shall we say, creatively, and demonstrating their personalities through piercings and crazy make-up (boys or girls). Lord knows, I certainly did the same, although I thank God every day that Facebook and Instagram didn’t exist then.

I still think it is a great time of life to experiment and have fun with your look.

Rules are rules

However, this should be reserved for evenings, weekend and school holidays. When you are in school you should abide by the school rules. They are kind of like a precursor to work rules: this is who I am today, and when I am this person, I dress this way. It is the same as the reason that I don’t wear my pyjamas to work: they are just not appropriate.

Furthermore, nothing has really changed since the 1980s in terms of health and safety (yes, I went there). Trampolining and naval piercings STILL don’t go well together, rugby and a freshly pierced nipple are a bad combination (scrums and healing wounds – not good – true story), Bunsen burners and long hair that has been let down to cover an “illegal” tragus piercing should never happen, and a lost nose stud in catering is beyond calamitous (and this is why I never eat the students’ food either).

In short, piercings are distracting and unnecessary and don’t assist with helping the students be “in role” during the day.

Also, and this comes from an adult who STILL clings on to a nose piercing and many many ear piercings – they don’t heal up within six hours, they are easy to take out in the morning and put back in in the evening and it is more fun to wear them when you are not being told off about them every five minutes at school, but can walk out with pride.

Katie White is an English teacher based in the South West of England

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