Concerns about hygiene, safety, cleanliness and bullying are deterring our children from using the school toilet. Liam Mynes from Tork

manufacturer Essity, looks at ways of changing the washrooms in schools to make them safer and more accessible.

Toilets are a necessary part of our lives and most of us expect to be able to find a safe, hygienic washroom whenever we need one. But it seems we are failing our children in this regard. Earlier this year, Essity commissioned a YouGov survey into pupils’ attitudes towards the toilets in schools. The results were shocking.

The study revealed that 5% of secondary school pupils never use the toilets at school. More than half of the 1,500 students questioned said the facilities were dirty while 12% blamed the fact that toilet paper or soap was often lacking and 19% were actually fearful of the loos because they felt them to be unsafe.

The survey also revealed that 9% of secondary school children refrained from eating or drinking during the school day to avoid having to use the toilets. One third of pupils said they had suffered from headaches and struggled to concentrate as a result.

Last year Essity conducted a similar survey in primary schools which also gave unsettling results. This revealed that 44% of pupils routinely avoided using the school washroom, with a quarter of teachers and children describing hygiene levels as being either poor or very poor. Moreover, a fifth of respondents claimed that no checks whatsoever were made on these facilities during the school day.

A report by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicines also revealed that more than half a million pupils are estimated to have refrained from drinking during the school day to avoid using the toilets. Around 40% of girls said they would never use the facilities while 16% of teenage boys claimed that ‘bad things’ frequently happened in the washrooms and were afraid to use them.

This situation is obviously unacceptable. If children are reluctant to use the toilets at school it could have serious


implications for their health and wellbeing. For example, it could lead to wetting or soiling accidents in younger children and urinary tract infections and constipation in older students. So, what can be done to improve the washrooms in schools?

Some institutions are already changing the design of their washrooms to make them more child-friendly. Better lighting, a more modern décor and open-plan areas for handwashing where staff can see inside can all help to keep the washrooms safe. Any hidden corners and alcoves where children might be bullied should also be eliminated where possible.

“Better lighting, a more modern décor and open-plan areas for

handwashing where staff can see inside can all help to keep the washrooms safe.”

As for other issues such as poor hygiene, messy surroundings and a lack of paper or soap, these can all be addressed by providing appropriate washroom systems.

Conventional toilet rolls are often provided in schools as a low-cost option. But these may be thrown around by unruly pupils or left on the floor where they will become wet, soiled and unusable – which will lead to the supply running out too quickly and the washrooms gaining a messy appearance. So, it makes sense to provide lockable toilet tissue dispensers with a sturdy design to resist vandalism while also helping to control consumption and prevent run-outs.

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