Teacher shaved student's armpits in front of class

Last updated 08:33 30/05/2014

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An Australian mother is demanding answers after her teenage daughter's armpits were shaved by her teacher as part of the school's curriculum.

Melissa Woods, mother of 14-year-old Taylah, says her daughter was "extremely upset" when her armpits were shaved in front of two other girls in a classroom.

"I didn't understand why they had to do it," Woods told radio station 3AW on Thursday.

The teenager, who has a disability, had been enrolled in a life skills programme at Wangaratta District Specialist School in Victoria's north-east.

The teacher told Woods that her daughter would get picked on if she didn't shave, she said.

"I spoke to the teacher the very next day and she told me that she has the right to do it, it's part of the curriculum."

School principal Libby Hosking said they would "definitely seek specific permission" for parts of their curriculum in future.

"This is a very sensitive issue," she said.

"We're very concerned and regret that the family and the child were very upset."

The school teaches children with intellectual and some physical disabilities and part of the independent living skills programme is to demonstrate how things are done.

"It's not to say that shaving armpits needs to occur, it's just an option," Hosking said.

The principal said that parents were alerted to the inclusion of shaving in the life skills programme.

"The overview went home in the final week of team one with a note that explained this is what we would be doing," she said.

Hosking said the school ran a programme teaching students about consent and "that was sought in this instance".

But Woods said she hadn't given the school permission, saying her daughter had previously told her that she didn't want to shave.

"That's invading her rights as a person to decide whether or not she wants to get it done or not."

She wrote to the school principal, who wrote back explaining how it is part of the curriculum and she regrets not having a permission slip for her to sign, she said.

Woods has since written to the school's regional director for a better explanation.

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- The Age

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