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Concern over effects of school hygiene on children's potential

Published 20th May, 2010 by Neil Nixon

Concern over effects of school hygiene on children's potential

According to research unveiled recently by SCA, hygiene in schools is a major concern for British parents. The SCA 2010 Hygiene Matters report reveals that 71% of Brits agree that children do not learn enough about the importance of health and hygiene at school despite a whopping 90% believing that maintaining high standards of hygiene is a school’s most important responsibility.

Over half (53%) of respondents believe that poor hygiene in schools can make it difficult for children to enjoy their schooldays and impact their ability to achieve their potential.

New research commissioned by SCA to support the launch of the report, highlights how memories of unpleasant school toilets stay with us into adulthood. The overriding memory we have of school toilets is the poor quality toilet paper (two thirds) while one in three remember there being no toilet paper at all, and almost half (44%) say they did not like using them (rising to 50% of women).

Almost one in four (22%) said that dirty or smelly environments put them off using the toilet at school. Worryingly, more than one in 10 say they remember finding urine or excrement on the floor/walls in their school toilets and only 4% say they remember them being clean and smelling pleasant.

One in three people actively avoided using the toilets whilst at school as a result of the bad conditions, with 15% saying this led to them being uncomfortable in class and 8% saying they would go home and use the toilet instead, with 4% going to find alternative public toilets.

Jenny Perez, director of the UK charity ERIC (Education and Resources for Improving Childhood Continence), said: “These results highlight the issues that children with poor toilet hygiene in schools face.

Avoiding toilets can lead to or exacerbate serious health problems such as incontinence (bedwetting, daytime wetting and soiling) with over one in 12 children of school age in the UK affected. Reluctance to use toilets can also cause constipation which is a major issue amongst school children. But poor toilets and poor toilet hygiene are not only an issue for those with incontinence; they affect all children and young people at school and may also affect their academic attainment and attendance levels. It is great that SCA is raising awareness around this important issue through their Hygiene Matters report.”

The SCA 2010 ‘Hygiene Matters’ report was commissioned to provide a greater understanding of personal hygiene methods and behaviours worldwide, and follows on from the report published in 2008. The extensive global study took place during 2009 with 5084 respondents from Australia, China, France, Germany, Mexico, Russia, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. The in-depth results cover a range of topics including living in the wake of swine flu, hygiene in schools and pre-schools, hygiene information in the metropolis, hygiene and health in the internet age and hygiene and the environment.

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