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School toilets – convenient or inconvenient?

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"I've hated public or work toilets ever since school and if I try to pee in one, I can't go". Does this sound familiar to you? This question appeared recently on the "Ask Dr Martin" page of Chat magazine. I suspect that it will sound familiar to many people.

Many people who attend our workshops tell us that their problems with paruresis, or shy bladder syndrome, first began when they used toilets away from home in their childhood. They often say that their earliest memories of difficulties relate to their school days. Maybe someone bullied them in the toilets. Maybe someone peeped at them over the top of the cubicle doors while they were using the toilet. Maybe they weren't able to use the toilet when they needed to and had to hold onto an uncomfortably full bladder for far too long. Experiences such as these can stay with us in our psyche into adulthood, long after the traumatic situation ended.

It's disappointing that some schools don't seem to appreciate this. An article on the BBC website shows how one school in Wiltshire is planning to lock school toilets during lesson times.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-66155737?xtor=AL-72-%5Bpartner%5D-%5Bbbc.news.twitter%5D-%5Bheadline%5D-%5Bnews%5D-%5Bbizdev%5D-%5Bisapi%5D&at_campaign_type=owned&at_ptr_name=twitter&at_format=link&at_link_origin=BBCNews&at_campaign=Social_Flow&at_medium=social&at_link_id=1789E4BE-1FB6-11EE-8DFF-2BA35B3BE886&at_link_type=web_link&at_bbc_team=editorial

They say that they will allow exceptions for students with medical passes. But I would question if it's realistic to expect a student to ask for a medical pass because they can't use toilets when other people are around.

Many people with paruresis find it very difficult to tell other people about their toilet issues. So it's pretty unlikely that school students will find it easy to be upfront about such an embarrassing subject. Especially if doing so will single them out for different treatment.

There's no easy answer. All we do know is that restricting toilet visits for school students is highly likely to build up future life-affecting paruresis problems for some of them.

Visit our website www.ukpt.org.uk for more information about paruresis.

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Saturday, 20 April 2024

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