Missing locks on doors, bad smells and a lack of toilet paper in school toilets are not just inconveniences – they are making children ill.
Poor standards are making pupils reluctant to use the loos and many hold on all day until they are home, resulting in chronic constipation, incontinence and urinary infections.
The horrible conditions can also lead children to resist drinking water throughout the day, leading to dehydration and other health problems, according to a new survey of school toilets in the UK.
The Bog Standard Campaign surveyed more than 130 schools and readers of Nursing Times to find out about toilet related health problems suffered by children.
All the schools taking part agreed there should be a minimum standard for their toilets and 58 percent felt a special award scheme would encourage schools to raise or maintain standards.
One Nursing Times reader said: "School toilet issues continue to cause children and parents concerns in nursery, primary and secondary school settings. Broken toilet seats, no hand soap, no toilet paper, no lighting, broken locks on doors, no sanitary bins, locked toilets and bullying away from adult supervision are all an issue."
Experts from Education and Resources for Improving Childhood Continence (ERIC), which is running the toilet campaign as well as one called Water Is Cool in School, said poor toilet facilities had a huge impact, not only children's health.
"Our research and contact with families shows that children with continence issues may experience more emotional problems and have lower self-esteem than children without continence problems," Jenny Perez, director of ERIC, told the Nursing Times.
"A lot of these problems could be avoided or eradicated with improved school toilet facilities, encouraging drinking water during the day and easy accessibility to the toilet. This is not only a health and well-being issue for those with continence issues; it affects all children and young people at school and may also affect their academic attainment and attendance levels."
Although improving toilet standards was a high priority for schools, with 73 percent carrying out renovations in the past five years, a quarter still received complaints from students.
So, is there anything that parents can do to help the situation? According to the campaign, parents should ask to view the school's toilets, particularly if their child is not happy to use them. From the schools surveyed, only 17 percent had received a request from a parent to view them.
The Good Schools Guide also encouraged parents to check out the facilities when choosing a school, stating they were more important in assessing their child's school life than the usual sports or IT facilities.
Source (ParentDish US)