Is it time for us to ditch the school uniform?

May 13th, 2024 11:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

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EDITOR – Despite the unquestioning devotion many Irish schools have to school uniforms, it is past time to rethink the sad practice of obliging our children to wear them every day of their childhood.

They are a recent phenomenon, having only become widespread in Ireland since the 1980s, in a panic over loss of control and discipline after corporal punishment was abolished.

But they are so familiar that many Irish people cannot imagine school without them.

Yet Ireland is a complete outlier in Europe. Of the 109 million children attending school in the EU, less than one million of them wear uniforms. Ireland and Malta, with our common history of church control of schools, are the only two countries where they are the norm.

The Irish argument that you don’t have to think what to put on in the morning is absurd when you consider that the other 108 million children in Europe all manage fine without them, and regard school uniforms as an abhorrent and archaic British practice.

There is no sound educational, social, financial, safety, anti-bullying or equality case to support obligating children to wear uniforms.

For example, it is a myth that they protect children from bullying. A major study in 40 countries across the wider European continent (Statista, 2018) showed that the eight countries where uniforms were the norm were concentrated at the top of the bullying leaderboard.

The common denominator of these countries is a history of repressive political or religious control.

Children have a right to be comfortable in school and free from the fear or practice of humiliation, shaming or the judgement by principals and teachers based on arbitrary conventions of school uniforms. They have a right to wear clothes that suit them and in which they feel comfortable, that suit the weather of any given day and that suit their activities for the day (for example cycling to school).

Wearing comfortable clothes to school is not a form of misbehaviour and should not be treated as such. It can have a chilling psychological effect, or be discriminatory on gender, religious and other grounds.

They can undermine the child’s sense of belonging in school, affecting their capacity to participate fully and thereby constitute institutional bullying. It is time for the Department of Education and the Ombudsman for Children to address this issue. Our campaign can be contacted at [email protected]

Gearóid Ó Riain,
Be You At School,
Westport, Co Mayo.

Role of cancer trials is more important now than ever

EDITOR – Every year, in Ireland, more than 24,000 people are diagnosed with invasive cancer. Unfortunately, we all will have to come to terms with a cancer diagnosis in our families at some stage, with one in every two people diagnosed with the disease during their lifetime.

That’s why the role of cancer clinical trials is so important in finding new ways to prevent, find and treat cancer, and to stop more people from dying from the disease. Monday May 20th is International Clinical Trials Day. To mark the day, Cancer Trials Ireland will host a public webinar from 1pm-1.45pm.

The webinar will hear from our clinical lead and medical oncologist, Professor Seamus O’Reilly, on the importance of trials in developing new treatments. There will also be a discussion with a patient on their experience of taking part in a trial and what they gained from it.

Every cancer medicine in use today was once the subject of a trial to determine its safety and effectiveness. By taking part in trials, patients may receive access to a treatment not otherwise available, while also helping to find answers to cancer for future generations. It’s important to underline that cancer trials are highly regulated. Participants are closely monitored, meaning better care and more opportunities to check in with the trial doctor and nurse support team.

In the future, we want to see a situation where every person diagnosed with cancer in Ireland is screened for potential participation in a cancer trial, should they so wish.

The webinar forms part of our Just Ask campaign to encourage people who have been diagnosed with cancer to ask their doctor or healthcare professional if there is a cancer trial to suit them. To register for the webinar, or for more information on cancer trials currently underway, we would ask the readers of The Southern Star to have a look at cancertrials.ie/JustAsk.

Eibhlín Mulroe,
Cancer Trials Ireland,
Dublin 2.

Conference on IBD for Cork city will be live-streamed

EDITOR – There is a major national conference being organised for people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), taking place on World IBD Day, Sunday May 19th.

There are approximately 40,000 people in Ireland living with IBD, which causes inflammation, swelling and ulceration of the intestines. The two most common types are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. While there is currently no cure for IBD, early diagnosis and treatment can help to stabilise the disease and provide a normal quality of life.

Among the topics set to feature at the forthcoming conference will be a talk by health psychologist, Aideen Stack, on ‘Gut Feelings’ focusing on dating and relationships, as well as a talk by registered dietician, Majella O’Keeffe, on how to ‘Love your Gut’ and eat well with IBD.

The conference celebrates 40 years since Crohn’s and Colitis Ireland was first established to provide services and supports to people with IBD, their families and friends.

It takes place in the Kingsley Hotel in Cork city on May 19th from 12-6pm. However, for those unable to attend in person, the event will be live streamed.

To register an interest, or for more information on the supports and services offered by Crohn’s and Colitis Ireland, we would ask The Southern Star readers to call the Support Line on 01 531 2983 (Mon/Wed/Fri, 9.30am to 12.30pm) or visit www.crohnscolitis.ie

Amy Kelly,
Crohn’s & Colitis Ireland,
Dublin 7.

Every road has empty homes

EDITOR – It amazes me how many houses lie empty on every road, every village and streets of our towns across West Cork.

Meanwhile, there are thousands of families and people desperate for a secure roof over their heads. Why is this allowed and why is it so hard to get accurate information or access the grants that are supposed to help?

Then there are those politicians and agitators who are very happy to blame vulnerable people, who have made West Cork their home and only want a safe place to lay their heads too. Why is this? Maybe it’s because they have nothing to offer voters and it’s easier to stir up division and hate in the hope of distracting us all. I’m not fooled and neither are the people around me. Turning empty houses into homes is what the people want. I hope candidates in the local and European elections who come knocking on my door have the cop-on to know this.

Siobhán O’Donoghue,
Ardmanagh, Schull.

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