Objective: To ascertain why children and parents frequently describe problems with school toilets.
Setting: Two contrasting cities in Northern England (Newcastle upon Tyne 394 pupils) and Southern Sweden (Goteborg/Mölndal 157 pupils)
Methods: Self-administered questionnaires were given to children aged 9-11 years in England and Sweden. Researchers administered questionnaires to Head teachers and recorded their observations of facilities according to predetermined basic standards.
Results: Children from both countries said they found school toilets unpleasant, dirty, smelly, and frightening and that bullying occurred there. Many children avoided using the school toilets (62% of boys and 35% of girls (in the UK site) and 28% boys and girls in Swedish site avoided using the school toilets to defaecate). Results were similar in both centres.
Conclusion: European standards are needed for school toilets in order to prevent children developing problems such as constipation, urinary tract infections and incontinence.