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Fishwife
Fishwife asks:
Q:

Is is acceptable for a teacher to refuse to allow a student to use the bathroom when necessary?

Especially when this results in the student soiling himself
(on more than one occasion) and then being subject to the ridicule of classmates.
In Topics: Working with my child's teacher(s), Discipline and behavior challenges
> 60 days ago

|

Expert

Allyn Anderson
May 16, 2010
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What the Expert Says:

During each class period, teachers are responsible for knowing where students are at all times. If a teacher finds a student leaving the classroom excessively or going other places rather than the requested "restroom" pass, teachers will limit access. However, if there is a medical reason for a child to leave a class frequently, usually getting a doctor's note to that effect should allow easier access.

In this situation do call the teacher to determine what else might be going on in the classroom. Perhaps an extra set of clothes in the classroom for emergencies might be all that is needed.  

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Additional Answers (19)

ronald
ronald writes:
Fishwife, this sounds unacceptable but you must contact your child's teacher immediately. I suspect there is more going on.

Ron
> 60 days ago

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chezamie678
chezamie678 , Parent, Teacher writes:
Well, I think the teacher should let the kid go to the bathroom because if he or she dos'nt the kid won't pay attention to the teacher and won't learn anything.
> 60 days ago

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Louiseasl
Louiseasl , Child Professional writes:
Thank you for writing to JustAsk!

School staff need to be sensitive to the physical needs of children, including the use of the bathroom.  Not all children are able to "hold it" until break time, thus flexibility should be allowed.

If a child seems to need several trips to the restroom throughout the day the the parents should meet with the teachers and guidance staff to see if this is typical or atypical behavior of the child.

If there exists a medical or developmental concern, then the child's physician may need to provide medical documentation.

However, given the heightened concern for bullying within schools, in my opinion at no time should a child be ridiculed by staff or students.  Period.

Thanks for asking this question.

Louise Masin Sattler, NCSP
Nationally Certified School Psychologist
Owner of Signing Families
Host of Learning and Laugher with Louise (www.toginet.com)
> 60 days ago

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elizabethlute
elizabethlute writes:
i recently read a national news article on this. lawyer up
> 60 days ago

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missgigimeowcat
missgigimeo... , Teacher, Parent writes:
You did not say what grade your son was in the question, but I am going to assume that he must be an elementary school student. To answer your question, no, I do not think that this is an acceptable situation. As an experienced educator, I have had this situation to occur in my classroom. Some students to use requests to go to the restroom as a "get out free" situation and roam the halls or make mischief in the restroom; however, many students are responsible and can be trusted to go to and return from the restroom promptly with no problems. Teachers must discern which student is able to handle the situation responsibly. For students who are not be responsible, time must be allotted in the schedule for supervised restroom breaks.

My advice to you is to first discuss the situation with the classroom teacher. If necessary, include the school counselor and school administrators in the discussion. If this does not improve the situation, I would advise you to contact your child's pediatrician to request that he/she write a letter to your child's school that details the need for your child to be allowed to go to the restroom to relieve himself as necessary, for medical and psychological reasons. Such situations can quickly become stress-response situations, particularly if the child fears the teacher's negative response when the request is made and the subsequent ridicule by peers if the child can not wait long enough.
> 60 days ago

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mommas3bs
mommas3bs writes:
No you can also get a drs note from your childs dr and your child can go to the bathroom at any time he or she needs to. The drs note just needs to say that your child needs to go to the bathroom at any time.
> 60 days ago

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pratixa
pratixa writes:
no it is not acceptable to refuse the children to  go to bathroom when it is necessary.Because the teacher  can  go toilet  whenever they like and whenever they want  but student are not allowed to do so.It might create a problem of child right and health  problem to the  child.
so i request  all the teacher to not to be so passive  and in the name of discipline they are forgettin the word   humanity....
> 60 days ago

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radz
radz writes:
Every child should be allowed to use the bathroom in school. If a child makes trouble going to or inside the bathroom and it has been documented by the teacher, then a trusting leader from the class should accompany child making sure to avoid any bad conduct.  This works for my students until they show me they can be trusted on their own. I also ask my 4, 5, 6 year olds to tell me if it is an emergency. I ususually can tell if it is or not. Building relationships and trust with your students is most important.
> 60 days ago

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emileedsouza
emileedsouza writes:
No, the teacher should not refuse a student to use the bathroom when it is necessary.
> 60 days ago

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fowziy
fowziy writes:
No, think of it this way would you like someone to refuse you the use of the bathroom. Students are people too.
> 60 days ago

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Kutiwa
Kutiwa writes:
it depends on how frequent the child asks to go, unless they have bladder problems about 2-3 times in a day is adequate
> 60 days ago

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Brad_Walsh
Brad_Walsh writes:
You could just walk out but the real question is can they write you up?
> 60 days ago

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otisscorky
otisscorky , Parent writes:
no way!  Take the child out out of that class.
> 60 days ago

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Deepalipd
Deepalipd writes:
No its not...talk to the teacher...
> 60 days ago

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Seeten
Seeten writes:
Some people...
All of this goes back to (on both sides) to "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."  
OF COURSE children are people too and OF COURSE they have to use the restroom just like adults.  So teachers should not be unreasonable about letting a child use the restroom during class.  If there is a doctor's note or the child has had previous accidents, the teacher will (hopefully) know this and be sensitive to the situation.  He/she should also NEVER allow ridicule by other students!
....but....
Parents also have to learn how to put themselves in a teacher's shoes.  We realize that this child is your baby and we know that you care for them like nothing else in the world.  But you have to understand that there are (in my experience) up to 25 other children in the classroom.  If those rules are not enforced to the best of a teacher's ability, he/she will have no classroom management.  
Teachers set rules at the beginning of the year.  My rule is, you can go to the restroom any time, as long as I am not teaching.  Even then, if it is an emergency, ask and GO!  Otherwise, wait until the lesson is over and then go.  ..But I have a restroom inside my classroom.
One last thing.  If you think teachers are able to go to the restroom any time they want, you have NO idea what you are saying.  Some days, I have a 20 minute break first thing in the morning, some days it isn't until 12:45, and some days I FLY to the restroom after making sure all of the students have gotten into their cars to go home.
I am sorry for all of the CAPS, but this really bothered me for some reason.
> 60 days ago

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DebbieHendrix
DebbieHendrix writes:
This child may need special consideration, especially if he/she has a bladder and/or colon problem. Does he/she have a parent's note or doctor's excuse to go to th restroom as needed due to a problem?         Since soiling his/her pants if not allowed to go has been an issue, I would ESPECIALLY allow this student to go to the restroom whenever he/she asks.  The ridicule from classmates can affect this child forever, and I hope the students who made ugly remarks, laughed, etc. had some consequences for their actions.  Middle School Teacher, Owensboro, KY
> 60 days ago

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DebbieHendrix
DebbieHendrix writes:
I would allow this student to go to the restroom, especially when he/she had already soiled his/her pants if not allowed to go. He or she may have bladder and/or colon problems that inhibit him/her from "holding" it any longer. Has the parent and/or doctor sent the teacher or school any note explaining why this student needs to go immediately when he/she asks to go to the restroom?  Also, I hope the students that laughed or made of this child had some consequences for their actions.
> 60 days ago

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vickibyrd
vickibyrd writes:
Short answer...no. Sort of long answer..work very closely with the teacher to find out exactly what is going on in terms of how often. Classroom get regular breaks (assuming this is elementary) and then the teacher should (the ones that I am familiar with) allow for any student that has the need. Check the school policy and or procedures. Good luck.
> 60 days ago

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m_aranda
m_aranda writes:
Sounds as if Seenten may have restroom issues of her own and rejecting her Bodies Needs Probably Learned That From When She Was In grade School. My Daughtr Is In First Grade And She Askd To Use Restroom And Her Teachr Denied Her. She said she Had to Hold It For a Long Time To Where Her Stomach Hurt. I Talkd To The Principle And Shr Told Me They T Training Them To Use It At Certain Times. And That Medical Experts say Children Can Hold It For Up To An Hour and A Half And That Children Are Also Traind To Not Use The Restroom While They Sleep (she Used As An Example). I Told Her That Ivr Taught My Daughtr To Listen To Her Body And Go When She Has To Go And That I Didnt Agree. The Principle Said She would Talk To The Teachr About My Daughtrs Needs.
> 60 days ago

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