Should schools police unhealthy snacks?

The BBC have reported here that a secondary school in Kent are searching bags each morning and confiscating unhealthy snacks. The school states “We had noticed a deterioration in concentrations, learning and behaviour particularly from students bringing into school large multi-packs of unhealthy food, snacks and drinks.”

I guess that in itself is fair enough but they also state that they are “not returned” – are they consumed in the staff room? Who can say? If they were to give the items back at the end of the day I would feel better about it.

I have mixed feelings about this, having two young sons myself I let them have “unhealthy snacks” occasionally but they are under my control. These children are at secondary school and may purchase the snacks themselves. Also, this might be all they have to eat for that day, it may not be healthy but surely it’s better than going hungry? Anyone that knows (or was) a hungry teenager knows there is nothing that concentrates less or is more grumpy.

I turned to some fellow bloggers for their opinions on the subject:

I don’t agree with children taking junk food, sweets, chocolate, crisps or fizzy drinks into school. I think these are things which should be enjoyed in moderation and not on an everyday basis, especially not in an environment which is meant to be for learning. – Sophia from Tattooed Tealady

There’s no need for fizzy drinks or energy drinks at school I don’t think that the odd sweet or snack should be confiscated. Instead of teaching kids that eating/having these foods cause punishment the focus should be on educating children about nutrition and healthier substitutes. Plus it’s my child and I have the right to decide whether they deserve a treat or not. – Kayleigh from Candyfloss & Dreams

It sounds like a school that has lost the respect of its students. The whole thing sounds like a symptom of a much bigger problem to me – Em from

While I understand why there are mixed opinions on this, unfortunately a lot of children aren’t getting a balanced diet and that does affect their learning, their behaviour and their health. That said healthy food is expensive and not everyone can afford it, so perhaps there could be something that helps parents who struggle to afford ‘healthy / good food’. It’s unfortunate and saddening that measures like this need to be put place at all – Emma from Our Fairytale Adventure

I have mixed feelings on this one as I am the parent of a fussy eater. His daily lunch box consists of cocktail sausage rolls, a yoghurt and mini gingerbread men – which I hold my hands up isn’t balanced however it is all that he will eat. I don’t think that fizzy drinks, energy drink, crisps or chocolate bars should be included within packed lunches so do agree that these would be removed. Although are they then giving the children something in return or are they then going without? Which leads to another problem – Sarah from Boo Roo and Tigger Too

 I think some monitoring is fine: if, like mentioned, a child has 2 litres of coke, sweets and chocolate, then yes it needs sorting. But if, for example the child has a ham sandwich, some fruit, a flapjack, a yogurt and a chocolate bar, then everything in moderation allow the chocolate bar. – Amy from Eps and Amy

 I think it’s too far. My son’s school have guidelines. But they don’t actually search and take things off them. I think if he was constantly taking unhealthy things in they might say something to me. Guidance is fine, but at the end of the day I think it’s up to parents! – Donna from Bobsys Mum

I think it’s the parents job to feed the child and choose what they eat and the schools job to teach the child not be the food police! I genuinely don’t understand what right school have to check lunchboxes – my child is only at preschool and usually takes a sandwich, banana and a yoghurt with a bag of Mini Cheddars (I like her to have a sandwich plus plenty of choice to choose from and hate the thought of her being hungry – she does usually bring the cheddars back home. On Friday I always let her have a mini roll in there – Maria from Happy Mummy

 I think children should eat a healthy diet. However, I think this is taking it too far. I wouldn’t accept my workplace searching my bags, and because they’re children, many seem to think it’s acceptable to treat them as 2nd class citizens – Pete from Household Moneysaving

Sounds like the teachers needed something sweet for the staff room coffee break ?. While I agree we need to instill a healthy diet in our kids this is not the way to do it – Benny from Daddy Poppins

They raise some really good points. I particularly agree with Pete that searching a bag for food on a daily basis is a step too far and Maria who says the school’s job is to teach and it’s up to parents to keep an eye on the food their children consume. Obviously teenagers are able to buy their own sweets and drinks and it is hard to monitor their intake but I also feel that we have to put a certain amount of trust in them, if we’re searching their bags for sweets where do we draw the line?



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