Can schools ban besties? The ridiculous policy that's landed in Australia

Kinderling News & Features

Not so long ago we were commiserating with poor little Prince George who attends Thomas's Battersea, a school with a no 'best friends policy'. 

Yes, you read that right. At Prince George's UK primary school, the students are actively discouraged from making close friendships, for fear of excluding others.  

Yet now it appears the 'craze' is not just confined to the UK but the US and Australia as well, at least according to this report by Karen Brooks at The Daily Telegraph

No best friends allowed

According to Karen, the 'no best friends' policy was 'cooked up' by well-meaning experts looking to promote kindness and overcome the cliquey nature of primary school friendships, and any potential disruption to the classroom.

"With a propensity to share secrets and have adventures, they feared these same children might also exclude other kids both in and beyond the playground. It was believed that by discouraging 'best friends', the formation of cliques and bullying would lessen," Karen wrote.

We’re all for kindness, but this is ridiculous

For a start the policy didn't just stay within the confines of school. At Prince George's school the BFF ban extends to birthday parties where you can’t have one without inviting the entire class. (Anyone else reeling from the horror of attempting to afford this kind of party?!)

And according to Karen, a New York Times article back in 2010 reported summer camps were hiring 'friendship coaches' to "help every child become friends with everyone else."

The biggest problem with the policy however is that it hasn't (surprise, surprise) solved the problem. 

We can't demand loyalty from children (or anyone)

Children in schools where the policy exists are reported to be feeling just as anxious and excluded, when forcibly separated from their natural friendship group.

"We can't demand human beings like one another and be loyal — that happens organically and over time," writes Karen.

And perhaps even more importantly, why can't we have a BFF and be kind to everyone else at the same time? The two shouldn't be mutually exclusive.