Teens' body odour makes high school headmaster work up a sweat

By Amelia Wade

Mr Burden said the hot weather, while enjoyable during the break and at weekends, could be less desirable within the confines of the classroom. Photo / Thinkstock
Mr Burden said the hot weather, while enjoyable during the break and at weekends, could be less desirable within the confines of the classroom. Photo / Thinkstock

A prominent Auckland school is asking parents to make sure their children are showering daily and wearing antiperspirant so they don't have "overpowering" body odour.

Mt Albert Grammar School headmaster Dale Burden emailed parents on Thursday with the subject line: "Managing the classroom environment in the heat of summer."

Mr Burden said the hot weather, while enjoyable during the break and at weekends, could be less desirable within the confines of the classroom.

"I would appreciate your assistance in ensuring your son/daughter is taking every step to ensure they are managing the realities of being an adolescent, having to wear school uniform and keep comfortable.

"This subject of personal hygiene can make us all a bit uncomfortable and self-conscious, but as a natural part of everyday life it cannot be overlooked."

Mr Burden said the process of growing up for adolescents was a time of physical growth and development and while many teenagers recognised this in others, they were slower to accept changes to themselves.

"The atmosphere in a class of 13- to 16-year-olds who have bounced in straight from an active lunchtime can be ... overpowering!" Mr Burden wrote. "WHY is this so noticeable?

"Students are in classrooms sitting close to others - despite some rooms being air-conditioned or having the windows open for fresh air flow.

"Natural body odour

"The unnecessary wearing of jerseys (WOOLLEN!!!) and jackets (showerproof) - UNTIL TOLD TO TAKE THEM OFF because it is too hot or it is not raining!!

"The unnecessary wearing of shoes & socks (WOOLLEN!!!) - EVEN THOUGH ADVISED TO WEAR SANDALS

"RUNNING around at lunchtime - getting hot, having fun, getting hotter, enjoying themselves, getting hotter & SWEATING!" the email read.

Mr Burden said parents could help by ensuring their children remember to shower at least once a day, encourage the use of antiperspirant deodorant as well as washing and changing their uniform regularly.

He also suggested bringing a tea towel or hand towel in a plastic bag that they could wet and use to wipe their face and neck after running around at lunchtime.

"I will be promoting the same messages here at school and appreciate your assistance in helping your son/daughter take more responsibility for, and management of, this aspect of their personal development."

An assistant to Auckland Grammar principal Tim O'Connor said the school didn't "have that problem" because it had a robust health programme.

"If we have a smelly boy, we just tell him," the assistant said.

And Westlake Girls' High School principal Roz Mexted said her senior management team had heard nothing about odour issues.

- NZ Herald

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