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12-Year-Old Boy Suspended for Selling Junk Food

Photo by dan taylorStudent suspended for "crisp" dealing.

Student suspended for "crisp" dealing.

Many schools have eliminated junk food from vending machines on campuses, and some have even gone so far to ban it entirely.  When schools have outlawed junk food, some students have responded by “dealing” fatty snacks to their peers.  Recently, a 12-year-old boy from Liverpool was suspended for ‘‘crisp dealing”.

Junk food is largely responsible for the growing childhood obesity problem in developed countries.  Concerned schools and governments have responded by establishing policies that eliminate unhealthy foods.  Cardinal Heenan High School, a prominent UK school, has such a policy.  Meals are “home cooked”.

Cardinal Heenan Catholic Sports College is a larger than average high school set in the West Derby suburb of Liverpool. It has expanded over the years and now caters for around 1450 students. We have a long tradition of upholding gospel values and also setting high academic standards, as can be seen from the consistently improving public examination results.

Cardinal Heenan High School states that a “great emphasis is placed on maintaining firm, but fair discipline.”  As part of this “fair discipline”, Joel Bradley was given a one day suspension for “allegedly selling a packet of Discos at a marked-up price of 50 pence.” This was not his first offense; however, his father feels he has been “victimised”.   Ironically, his father has also been busted selling junk food!  The Telegraph reports:

His father, Joe, told the Liverpool Echo the youngster was being ”victimised” for the enterprise, which could earn him as much as £15 a day.

Mr Bradley, from Norris Green, admitted he too had once been caught selling canned drinks, chocolate bars and crisps from a van outside the school.

He said: ”I think the school has made a beeline for him because of what I’ve done.”

The head teacher of the school Dave Forshaw reports that there are six or seven junk food dealers in the school and busts occur about three to four times a week.

Is suspension an appropriate response to selling junk food?  I can tell you from my experience in American public schools, it’s not so easy to suspend a student, and often the parents bear some responsibility for their children’s action.


  1. This was not a state school from my understanding – so the family probably signed some type of code of conduct and he was a repeat offender so yes it was appropriate.

    As a public school teacher in Texas – we can suspend for severe or repeated offences. So the kid you hear about that got suspended for selling a bag of chips or some other seemingly minor offense probably has a string of other offenses trailing behind him. We had an elementary student sent to the alternative campus for “talking back to a sub” but actually it was because he had a long history of offences including violence towards staff.

    Another consideration is that if the health department is in an enforcement mode they can potentially fine the school for things like this. During multi-cultural day we have a luncheon for parents and staff. We aren’t allowed to serve the kids because of state and federal regulations + a massive food poisoning that happened a few years ago at a bake sale.

    The food can’t be set up near the kids food line. (On the other hand the teachers can make food in the room with the limitations that come from that. Basically it has to be something eaten raw or baked.)

  2. A one day suspension for selling junk food in a school where there is a ban on selling junk food is definitely appropriate, in my opinion. The child’s fathers states that he is “being victimized for the enterprise..” He’s not in school to earn money. He’s there to learn – and in a private school his father is paying the tuition! Undermining a rule at the school is certainly breaking some code of conduct.

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  4. I’m left wondering whether the school provide the kids with any snacks. Did they remove junk food and leave the kids to be hungry, or is there something else available for snacks, such as bananas. Surely if the kids are getting enough to eat there wouldn’t be so much need for enforcement.

  5. This is a good example that a school´s good intentions only work if the parents are behind it. Did you hear about Jamie Oliver (the English chef) who had a program for better food at schools in England. He showed schools how to provide healthy lunches and snacks for children but the parents were the ones who actually complained about it. Some mothers waited by the fence at lunchtime to bring their children hamburgers and other junk food. Children always do what they see at home so it´s just as important to change their parents way of thinking about healthy choices. And then those “junk food dealers” wouldn´t find customers anymore.

  6. I remember that school from my own childhood – always been very strict, very disciplined and with a strong academic reputation. Note that 1) it wasn’t his first offense so this is obviously something that’s escalated and 2) his father clearly doesn’t support the schools policy and has a grievance and is all but encouraging his son to break the rules. If he feels his son is somehow above the school rules – and the article at no point claims that they were anything other than clear as to what they expect from their students, he can take him elsewhere. I’m sure a lot of parents would be more than happy to take up the vacant place .

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