School sock confiscations under fire from parents

By Lo Hsin-chen  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Sep 07, 2013 - Page 3

A junior-high school in Pingtung County triggered criticism from parents and students over a policy to confiscate students’ socks that are not in line with the school’s regulations.

Since Wednesday, the first day of school this new semester, school administrators have been checking the color and the length of students’ socks at the entrance of Chung-cheng Junior-High School, and if student wears socks that are white or are not of a certain length, they are asked to take off their socks immediately.

As of yesterday, more than 100 pairs of socks had been confiscated from students.

“Socks are not expensive, but what right does the school administration have to take away socks from our kids?” parents asked.

They said that in the past, students only had their names taken down and their parents would be notified if they wore the wrong kind of socks, and that it did not make any sense to immediately confiscate students’ socks.

A student said it was embarrassing to be ordered to take off their socks at the school entrance, while another student said that their feet itched after being without socks all day, and that it made them feel stigmatized.

The school administration said that the purpose of restricting the type of socks that students may wear is to better protect their feet, and that the new measure has been advertised for a week since the semester started.

Commenting on the policy, Pingtung County Department of Education spokesman Lee Ta-ping (李達平) said that the county government respects the school’s regulation on socks, but that the way the regulation is being enforced is inappropriate.

The department’s Student Affairs section chief said that school principal Lee Ching-hsiang (李景祥) has admitted that it is “a bit arbitrary” to carry out the policy this way, and promised to make improvements. At the same time, the education department would send an inspector to monitor the situation.

Humanistic Education Foundation’s Kaohsiung Office director Chang Ping (張萍) slammed both the policy and the execution, saying the length and color of students’ socks is trivial, and urged the school to focus on education.

Pingtung County Parents’ Association chairman Ma Cheng-lin (馬成麟) said he did not understand why a school would still restrict socks, because the Ministry of Education has long lifted its restrictions on hair. He said it was humiliating to ask students to take off their socks in public, and questioned how the measure would better protect students’ feet if students had to spend the day without any socks.