Children's experiences of school toilets present a risk to their physical and psychological health

Child Care Health Dev. 2003 Jan;29(1):47-53. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2214.2003.00310.x.


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.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health
  • Child
  • England
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hygiene / standards*
  • Male
  • Privacy
  • Schools / standards
  • Sweden
  • Toilet Facilities / standards*