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Children's experiences of school toilets present a risk to their physical and psychological health

Authors

  • S. Vernon,

    1. Department of Child Health and Department of Primary Health Care, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK,
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  • B. Lundblad,

    1. The Sahlgrenska Academy at Goteborg University, Faculty of Health and Caring Science, Institute of Nursing Goteborg University, Sweden and
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  • A. L. Hellstrom

    1. Queen Silvia Children's Hospital and The Sahlgrenska Academy at Goteborg University, Faculty of Health and Caring Science, Institute of Nursing, Goteborg University, Sweden.
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Sue Vernon, Hon. Senior Research Associate, Sir James Spence Institute of Child Health, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4LP, UK
E-mail:
s.j.vernon@ncl.ac.uk

Abstract

Objective   To ascertain why children and parents frequently describe problems with school toilets.

Setting   Two contrasting cities in Northern England (Newcastle upon Tyne 394 pupils) and Southern Sweden (Goteborg/Mölndal 157 pupils)

Methods   Self-administered questionnaires were given to children aged 9–11 years in England and Sweden. Researchers administered questionnaires to Head teachers and recorded their observations of facilities according to predetermined basic standards.

Results   Children from both countries said they found school toilets unpleasant, dirty, smelly, and frightening and that bullying occurred there. Many children avoided using the school toilets (62% of boys and 35% of girls (in the UK site) and 28% boys and girls in Swedish site avoided using the school toilets to defaecate). Results were similar in both centres.

Conclusion   European standards are needed for school toilets in order to prevent children developing problems such as constipation, urinary tract infections and incontinence.

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