It can be really difficult as a child or teen to deal with the income disparities between families. As adults, we have a better grasp on how every family works with what they have, and can understand the complexities of financial matters. We know it's better to have money in the bank than on your back, you know? But kids simply see what their friends or peers have, and notice that they don't have the same items. They may ask for items their families can't afford, and some parents may feel pressured to go into debt buying things to help their kids fit in. Or, kids from families who aren't as well off may feel a sense of shame in not being able to keep up with the Joneses, so to speak. A British high school in Birkenhead has taken a pretty drastic step to stop this kind of poverty-shaming: they've banned certain brands of expensive designer coats from campus.
The BBC reports that Woodchurch High School has banned students from wearing designer coats, by brands such as Montcler, Pyrenex, and Canada Goose. Some of these coats cost around $1000, and school officials believe that allowing some students to wear the coats can lead to poverty-shaming kids whose families aren't as well off (or families who can't imagine spending A THOUSAND DOLLARS on a coat for a teenager, because no). The student body and parents seem to be 100% on board with the decision, too. Head teacher Rebekah Phillips says that administrators made the decision after consulting with students. According to Phillips, many students expressed concern about the pressure on families and students to wear particular brands. They even had parents approach them prior to sending out the letter announcing the ban, asking the school to take some kind of action. The same school also instituted a school bag rule a few years ago for the same reason.
So far, reactions to the ban have been mainly positive, and we think it sounds like a great idea! School is the one place all kids should feel accepted and on the same level as their peers. There will always be differences between families, but there's no need to display such wealth in a school setting, where presumably students of all different backgrounds come together every day.
@RadioCityTalk mick my son goes too Woodchurch High he has been asking for one of these coats for Xmas.. Since the school announced this. He has told us not too bother as he can't wear it for school.. Result for me 👍😁— ⚽️DAVE HANNAFORD⚽️ (@trfc_rover) November 15, 2018
At last a school with sense, absolutely agree with your decision to ban ridiculously expensive school coats! Yes there will always be a divide between rich and poor families however, schools are a place to learn not a fashion show and a place to flaunt such expensive items 😐— Gill Murray (@GillmurrayGill) November 15, 2018
In a statement, the school says the ban has been well-received by both parents and the student body. It's set to take effect after the Christmas holidays, so hopefully this takes some pressure off of families when it comes to gifts. No sense in buying a ridiculously expensive coat for your teen if they can't even wear it half the time!