Dirty toilets at schools may be encouraging some students to avoid using the facilities during the day and hold on until they go home or to another more hygienic location. That practice can actually have serious health consequences.
“Some children have incontinence problems and some contract kidney or bladder infections,” Ulla Kabbelgaard, a nurse who heads up the incontinence clinic at Næstved Hospital, told DR Nyheder.
To draw attention to the problem, today has been set aside as School Toilet Day, and researchers from Aarhus University Hospital are studying how much student health would improve if they started to use the school toilets.
“Several studies have shown that the students stay healthier if you ensure they use the toilet regularly,” Søren Rettig, a professor at Aarhus University Hospital's pediatric ward, told DR Nyheder.
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The doctors will use three schools as the basis for their research. At one, the students will continue to see the usual messy toilets, at another, they will be instructed on the importance of regular toilet use, and at the third, the students will enjoy instruction and clean toilets.
"We expect to find that improving the hygiene of school toilets will encourage children to use the facilities at school,” said Rettig “If we can show that students suffer fewer infections if they have clean toilets, we may be able to raise the standards of Danish schools.”
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Kabbelgaard said that health and safety rules should be just as robust at schools as they are in the workplace, and that parents have a responsibility to teach their children to take good care of public restrooms.
Several schools are holding a theme day to mark School Toilet Day.