I already have a hole where my mouth is. Did he make an extra hole?
Jokes aside, we don't let our white belts free-spar until they are one grade before green. Instead they do restricted forms of sparring (ie. not completely free). The restrictions are initally strong, and gradually reduce. By the time they are green belts they have probably been free sparring for 4 to 6 months. The total time they spent not free sparring (at least completely) could be anything form 9 months to one year - hardly a blip in their martial careers.
But why do we do this? Well for one thing, we teach them how
to spar. This is a process. We don't just "let them do whatever" (faux boxing etc.). I don't believe students can "spar" using karate techniques when they don't know any. All they'll be doing is whatever they currently do - and getting bad habits "to boot" (pardon the pun). Again, if you look at our sparring video, you'll see we teach a specific method of fighting - actually using karate techniques including bunkai. We don't encourage or seek to develop some form of generic "free (for all) fighting".
As far as "hard" or contact sparring goes, I'm tired of being hit by green and brown belts accidentally. Even they haven't got the control to spar with heavier contact "safely" - ie. without poking out an eye etc. - never mind white belts
One of my students went to live in Kalgoorlie (2 hours flight inland from Perth) and joined a dojo where they let people free spar (with contact) from the moment they walked in the door as rank beginners. My student witnessed a guy being kicked hard in the groin. The guy ended up losing both testes. There was no malice - just a total lack of control in an exuberant "contest". Apparently this was the second time in 2 years that the same thing had happened (different person doing the kicking too)! My student quit in horror - and rightly so. As a former civil litigation lawyer I can only cringe at their prospects of being sued (if they haven't been already).
Training should be a controlled learning environment. I believe in staged learning of free sparring as part of this controlled environment - not letting white belts "do their own thing" with potential risk to themselves and others, while gaining bad habits such as cringing, turning away etc. especially when panicking.
That's been the approach I've used for almost 3 decades and I'm sticking with it because I find it works. I appreciate that others don't do the same thing, but each to his own. If any of you have found a way to ensure safe, yet productive, junior white belt sparring, then more power to you.