Research done in Iowa City, Iowa is showing that children are developing bladder problems by being denied the request to go to the bathroom at school. Teachers often discourage children from using the bathroom because it tends to be used as students’ excuse to get out of doing their work or cause problems. However, doctors are seeing more and more urinary tract infections, incontinence, and damaged kidneys caused by infrequent trips to the bathroom.

Christopher Cooper, director of pediatric urology at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital in Iowa City recommends that everyone should use the bathroom every two or three hours. When people, especially children, are denied of this chance, it suppresses their basic animal instinct to go when they need to go and can do physical damage. This can also result in embarrassing predicaments for kids. Recently in Ohio, a sixth-grader wet his pants during a test when a teacher refused him access to the bathroom. In May, an eight-grader in California urinated into a Gatorade bottle in a classroom in protest of not being allowed to use the restroom. The teacher was first punished but then let off when they found that the student had not been encouraged to do what he did.

At the same time, teachers have had good reason to inhibit students from using the restroom during class. One school in North Carolina started a rule that required students to have an adult escort when they went to the bathroom after five fires were started in the rooms over the course of five days. The students protested the temporary rule by wearing numbered t-shirts reminiscent of those worn by prison inmates. Lesser reasons for limiting bathroom use is to keep children from cheating on tests, disrupting the class, or getting out of doing class work.

Despite this dilemma, there are effective techniques that can be used to help reduce this problem. For one, teachers need to be trained to avoid causing physical damage to children by denying them bathroom access. In a survey of 467 public elementary schools, only 18 percent of all teachers had received such training. There is also a sign out policy that can be used to detect which children are abusing unlimited access to the bathroom so that restrictions can be handled on an individual basis. That way, not everyone will be punished for the actions of a few unruly students.

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