One in four children avoid using school washrooms daily, and as many as 80% of children at high school refrain from going to the toilet at school. Why is this? And what are the consequences? Essity and TENA Urologist, Josefine Grandin discusses a complex and widespread social issue.
An integral part of growing up is learning to control and maintain personal hygiene, and the role of primary education is key to establish good habits. Yet many children avoid using the washrooms in school altogether, which can result in difficulties concentrating, constipation, bed wetting and other issues. For instance, nearly 40% of secondary school girls in the UK said they “hold it in” so they don’t have to use the facilities at school, and 80% of high school students in a Swedish study said they never use the toilet at school to defecate.
Studies suggest reasons for avoiding the washroom at school are complex, and vary with age. For children between 7 and 15 years of age for example, going to the toilet is to a great extent governed by the physical need. Social anxiety, fear of being exposed and inconsequent rules are just some of the reasons. But one common theme is clear: poor hygiene in school washrooms leads to students avoiding using them.
Addressing this issue requires all school washrooms to be properly equipped, cleaned and maintained, and that parents and teachers are properly educated about children’s washroom needs. Along with our global hygiene brand Tork, we have a long relationship of working with schools worldwide to both educate and equip them for improved hygiene.
“Tork has two programs that are used internationally to raise awareness of hygiene among children and teach them how to properly wash their hands. Ella’s Handwashing School is a free app that teaches young children how to wash their hands properly. We also have Max Handwashing School, which is an interactive toolkit, teaching older children when and why to wash their hands through experiments and more,” says Grandin.
From a health perspective, we believe that it is important to teach good hygiene habits early. Through research and surveys results, we have discovered that there is actually a high number of adults who wash their hands in the wrong way or don’t wash their hands at all after a toilet visit.