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Children's health threatened by poor toilet standards

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VOL: 100, ISSUE: 48, PAGE NO: 50

A new campaign, Bog Standard, which aims to improve the standard of school toilets was launched at the House of Com...

A new campaign, Bog Standard, which aims to improve the standard of school toilets was launched at the House of Commons in October.

The aims of the campaign are to:

- Increase awareness of the health benefits of better toilets for pupils;

- Encourage schools to improve the condition of pupils' toilets and to allow pupils to use them when they need to;

- Change the law relating to toilets in schools.

The state of school toilets affects children's physical and psychological health: toilets that are unpleasant, or out of bounds, can cause serious, long-term health problems among this age group.

Sub-standard toilets

The campaign presented evidence that sub-standard toilet facilities can have a serious impact on health and on pupils' ability to learn. The most common problems resulting from poor toilet standards include:

- Reduced concentration levels affecting performance in the classroom;

- Bladder infections, such as cystitis, which can develop into more serious kidney infections;

- Daytime wetting, which affects over 125,000 young people between the ages of five to 16 in the UK;

- Bedwetting, which affects two to three children in every class of 10-year-olds in the UK;

- Constipation and soiling issues, with one in 75 children between the ages of six to 10 experiencing regular soiling incidents.

A survey of 928 primary and secondary schools commissioned by the Community Practitioners' and Health Visitors' Association (CPHVA) has highlighted the need for improvements in the standards of school toilets and revealed that:

- Eighty-four per cent of school toilets are not cleaned adequately;

- Forty per cent have no toilet paper or soap;

- Over one-third of pupils have restricted access to toilets during breaks.

Toilet charter

A Bog Standard Toilet Charter has been launched that outlines the minimum standards that should be met for all school toilets.

The campaign is a collaboration of four health and education organisations. The initiative is being organised by Education and Resources for Improving Childhood Continence, and is working in partnership with the CPHVA, the British Toilet Association and School Councils UK. The campaign is supported by Domestos.

Useful contacts

The Bog Standard website (www.bog-standard.org) provides detailed information about the campaign aims, case studies of schools that have successfully improved their toilets, factsheets and the Bog Standard Toilet Charter.

Education and Resources for Improving Childhood Continence (ERIC), 34 Old School House, Britannia Road, Kingswood, Bristol BS15 8DB. A telephone helpline is available from 10am-4pm, Mondays to Friday on 0117 960 3060. www.eric.org.uk

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