Walking along the street, it could be easily observed that youngsters tend to visit fastfood stalls selling burgers and soft drinks or street stalls selling curry fishballs. They simply prefer them to traditional meals or even healthy meals. Besides the low nutrition value and lack of fibres from green vegetables, vast amounts of fat, particularly trans fat, starts alarming the public. In response to the government’s promotion on healthy diet, our tuck shop has been told not to sell ‘junk food’. However, parents, teachers and students take on quite different views and, consequently, they seem not to have reached any compromises yet.
Although parents and teachers seem to be on the same side, their interrelational effects are quite subtle. Teachers are indeed caught in a dilemma. On the one hand, they have the responsibility to take care of their students’ health as professional educators. On the other hand, they could be in trouble if some students accused them for ignoring students’ right to choose. Balancing the pros and cons, of course the school put the students’ welfare first. This can also be seen as a boon to the society because improving the health standard of students today means relieving society’s medical burden in future. Last, but not least, schools are committed to providing students with the right value instead of fulfilling their every request.
From parents’ viewpoint, the opinions could be quite divided. The majority would consider the ban on junk food at school as a blessing. Some may be misled by the shocking adverse effects greatly exaggerated by the media. Despite the fact that cancer, heart attack, coronary disease and obesity are developed if – and only if – one takes in food with high fat content and low nutrition value constantly over a long time in vast amounts, parents often receive a distorted view: they think not only junk food, but other unhealthy snacks should be banned. They think the school has not yet got the job done. Some may think the reason they send their kids to school is to ‘enjoy’ school life, but not to ‘suffer’. They are the ones who put kids’ happiness at the first place. These polarized views could slow down the discussion considerably. Ignorant parents may even think schools should solely shoulder the responsibility.
Students are the recipients of the service. They are of course the major critics of the idea. No matter what their views towards junk food are, they would not welcome the idea of having their choices reduced. For the junk food supporters, obviously they are the major victims, since they will not stop consuming junk food even if they are asked to. The lack of students’ support puts students and teachers in different ends and they lack mutual understanding.
Concerning this issue, parents should understand the school’s standpoint and act as a bridge between the school and students. Parents could start the practice at home and make sure the students understand the meaning of the policy. Students should be made willing to support the school, instead of being forced to. The school should explicitly point out the dark side of junk food so that the students can understand why they should not eat it, instead of restricting them. This may be a counterproductive way because the students may even take in more junk food in their leisure time. Never will the school succeed if she works alone. It is high time the school allied with parents to give the students a healthy future.