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Last Updated: Saturday, 13 January 2007, 11:30 GMT
School row over girl's crucifix
Samantha Devine holding her crucifix
Samantha Devine was reprimanded for wearing a crucifix chain to school
A Roman Catholic schoolgirl's desire to wear a crucifix necklace has led to her religion clashing with her school's health and safety policy.

Samantha Devine, 13, from Gillingham, Kent, was given the cross as a Christmas present.

But she was told to remove it by teachers at The Robert Napier School.

Samantha said she should be allowed to wear a symbol of Christian belief, but the school insisted it had a no jewellery policy for her age group.

Lapel badge

Samantha argued: "Everyone says they believe in God by going to church, but I believe in him my own way.

"If I've got a problem, I always get it [the crucifix] and talk to it, and I feel that helps me."

Paul Jackson, deputy head teacher at the non-denominational school, said it was a health and safety issue.

"We haven't told her she can't wear the crucifix... she could wear a lapel badge to show her commitment to her religion," he said.

Kent MP Ann Widdecombe, herself a devout Christian who wears a cross, said she found that to be a "reasonable compromise".

"The school has said she can wear her symbol... so it's not actually preventing her from displaying a cross or a crucifix," Ms Widdecombe said.

The human rights group Liberty questioned whether there were any real health and safety implications over pupils wearing items of religious jewellery during standard lessons.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
The crucifix chain which was banned



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