For all those who enjoy reveling in "back in my day" stories, you may soon have one more to add to the list: "Back in my day, kids were allowed to blow out the candles on birthday cakes."
As reported by the Australian Daily Telegraph, guidelines from the country's health department for keeping children safe from illness include instructions for the birthday boy or girl to bring in an individual cupcake to class if they want to blow out the candles.
Though initially reported as "bans" on birthday wishes (which Australia's National Health and Research Council was quick to dispute, in the country's wonderfully direct approach to such matters), the instructions remain clear — don't spread your germs to other kids in the class, and maybe reconsider the practice overall.
It's certainly a thought that's crossed more than one person's mind while attending a birthday party, as the guest of honour huffs and puffs over the food everyone is about to eat. As an article in the Examiner notes, cold and flu symptoms aren't apparent for the first two days of the illness, when the person is in fact most contagious, and blowing out candles is the equivalent of putting microscopic germs all over the cake.
Doctors in Australia, meanwhile, are calling this an excessive measure, with Australian Medical Association president Steve Hambleton noting to News Ltd. that not many organisms are transferred, and besides, the immune system needs to build up against antigens for health later in life.
Microbiologist, "Germ Guy" and HuffPost Canada contributor Jason Tetro agrees.
“The rule is rooted in hygiene, but to be honest, the chance of spreading an infection through blowing out a candle is quite low compared to an unprotected cough or sneeze. The concern is valid, but only in cases where the birthday boy or girl is actually sick.”
So readers, what do you think? Is it worthwhile to stop blowing out the candles during flu season, or does it seem excessive? Let us know in the comments below!
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A <a href="http://thestir.cafemom.com/teen/136092/state_senate_declares_holding_hands" target="_hplink">bill passed in Tennessee earlier this year declared hand-holding</a> a 'gateway sexual activity,' with teachers facing firing for even demonstrating the action.
Surprisingly, the ban on hugging isn't a one-off rule at a select school, but a trend that seems to be spreading. Schools in <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/03/new-jersey-school-bans-hugging/" target="_hplink">Portland and Florida started instituting these rules</a> in 2010, while administrations in New Jersey, Brooklyn and <a href="http://thedailyedge.thejournal.ie/new-zealand-school-bans-hugging-448032-May2012/" target="_hplink">New Zealand took it upon themselves in 2012</a>. For all, the reasoning appears to be the same: Respecting personal space and "unsuitable interactions" between students.
At <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/3964683/Marking-in-red-ink-banned-in-case-it-upsets-schoolchildren.html" target="_hplink">schools in both Australia and the U.K</a>., green ink has replaced red ink in marking children's paper because of its 'confrontational' nature.
Due to its "aggressive" nature, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2001/05/06/us/increasingly-schools-move-to-restrict-dodgeball.html" target="_hplink">dodgeball has been banned in schools across North America</a>, as it's frequently named the cause of injuries and fights. Adult dodgeball, on the other hand, <a href="http://www.thendl.com/" target="_hplink">has been enjoying a continued popularity</a>.
You'd think, with all the talk about childhood obesity these days, schools would be encouraging students to ride their bikes or skateboards to school. One New York <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,559460,00.html" target="_hplink">said it was illegal for kids to have bikes</a>, while another Orthodox school <a href="http://www.yourjewishnews.com/Pages/20640.aspx" target="_hplink">disagreed with the freedom afford by the two wheels</a>.
There's plenty of debate about the best possible bookbag for kids -- but one school in Michigan doesn't allow bags into the classroom at all. Citing safety concerns in lunchrooms and classes, <a href="http://www.mlive.com/news/jackson/index.ssf/2009/09/no-backpack_policy_challenged.html" target="_hplink">the high school asked students to keep returning to their lockers between classes</a> to retrieve the appropriate books.
There have been many toy bans in schools, but Pogs -- those tradeable metal disks -- made a huge splash when t<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1995/03/22/us/to-end-pog-fights-schools-ban-game.html" target="_hplink">heir safety, and the competitive rush spurred by their very existence</a>, was called into question by schools around the world.
Though later overturned, a Massachusetts school attempted to <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/story/2012-05-11/Mass-schools-bake-sale-ban/54902332/1" target="_hplink">ban bake sales on the basis of their lack of nutrition</a>.
In Ohio earlier this year, a 13-year-old boy <a href="http://mitchieville.com/2012/03/27/goth-child-banned-from-wearing-make-up-to-school-goths-mom-to-sue/" target="_hplink">was sent home from school because of his black lipstick, eye makeup and nail polish</a> (boy is not shown here). The school claimed it had <a href="http://jezebel.com/5055243/boys-makeup-gets-him-banned-from-school-what-lesson-does-he-learn" target="_hplink">a rule against "extreme or distracting" makeup</a>.
An Ottawa school banned yoga pants last year -- <a href="http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/11/30/no-yoga-pants-unless-theyre-covred-up-ottawa-school-reminds-students/" target="_hplink">unless the tight bottoms were covered up with long shirts</a>.
Silly Bandz are fun! Silly Bandz are cute! Silly Bandz are, apparently, a distraction in the classroom and should not be permitted. <a href="http://theweek.com/article/index/203529/the-ridiculous-silly-bandz-ban" target="_hplink">Schools all over North America have banned these collectables from class</a>, but that sure doesn't keep them from getting trading at recess.
No more BFFs for you, British kids! At a few U.K. schools, <a href="http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/4203460/Schools-ban-children-making-best-friends.html" target="_hplink">teachers are preventing children from making "best friends"</a> in an attempt to save others' feelings.
Milk was always seen as part of a wholesome school lunch, but now a group of doctors wants it off the menu entirely. A vegan and physician group in the U.S. is pushing a petition to get rid of milk in schools, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/25/ban-milk-from-school-lunc_n_1703406.html" target="_hplink">due to it being "...high in sugar, high in fat and high in animal protein that is harmful to, rather than protective of, bone health</a>."
Well, not dinosaurs <i>exactly</i>, but the word dinosaur, in addition to other words like "poverty," "birthdays," "Halloween," and "dancing," which <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/26/new-york-city-bans-refere_n_1380991.html" target="_hplink">might elicit "unpleasant emotions" in students.</a>
It might get chilly in Pennsylvania, but students there won't be allowed to wear their sheepskin Ugg boots into class, <a href="http://ca.shine.yahoo.com/ugg-boots-banned-in-school--education-crisis-solved-.html" target="_hplink">thanks to the potential for storing contraband like cell phones in the roomy footwear.</a>
You may have thought baggy pants were more of a '90s thing, but schools today are continuing to push for bans on the sagging pants, with <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2020259/Saggy-pants-ban-Florida-school-board-plan-new-rules-pupils-dress-code.html" target="_hplink">some schools claiming it interferes with learning</a>, and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/31/saggy-pants-ban-at-chicag_n_1559248.html" target="_hplink">others saying the style is related to gangs</a>.
And then there's the opposite end of the spectrum. Much like yoga pants, skinny jeans have been banned in schools all over the place, due to their lack of modesty and <a href="http://articles.nydailynews.com/2012-03-22/news/31227071_1_dress-code-skinny-jeans-tv-station" target="_hplink">distraction factor for the opposite sex</a>.
It's physical and emotional injury teachers are attempting to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/14/education/14recess.html?_r=1&oref=slogin" target="_hplink">avoid by banning competitive games in schools and at recess</a>, goes the claim.
A Toronto school made headlines last year when it was announced it would ban hard balls from its premises, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/11/16/torontos-earl-beatty-school-ball-ban_n_1097594.html" target="_hplink">following a parent suffering a concussion after being hit by a ball</a>.
Grinch, much? We've all heard of holiday trees and all-encompassing December concerts, but <a href="http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/8389344/sydney-school-accused-of-stealing-christmas" target="_hplink">some schools have gone as far as banning references to Santa and carols, among other Christmas-oriented terms</a>.