Child Abuse

School Under Fire For Forcing Students To ‘Pay’ For Bathroom Breaks

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kids bathroomI guess we can file this one in the “What were they thinking?” pile. A mother in Washington state is suing her child’s school because her 9-year-old daughter peed her pants after being made to wait to use the restroom. Why? Because she ran out of the Monopoly money that the students are made to use to pay for bathroom breaks. Yes, “pay.” 

Apparently students at Mill Plain Elementary, in Vancouver Washington, are given Monopoly money to use for bathroom breaks and other “privileges” such as snacks. Yes, this school thinks going to the freaking bathroom is the same thing as having a tasty treat. According to KOIN 6, two girls, on separate occasions, used all their play money to buy snacks and had none leftover for bathroom breaks. When they had to go, the teacher refused their request, in what I’m guessing was an extremely misguided attempt at teaching them fiscal responsibility. Because nothing teachers a third grader about finances more than humiliation in front of their peers. Eventually the girls couldn’t hold it in any longer and both urinated on themselves.

The worst part is, instead of being upfront about the reasons behind the incidents, the school was content to let the parents worry until the girls finally spoke up about the whole play money aspect. According to one mother, Merchon Ortega:

“My daughter finally told me, ‘We have to pay to use the bathroom.’ Nobody should have to pay to use the bathroom. I didn’t let her go to school the rest of the week because she was scared to go to school,’ Ortega lamented. ‘She’s scared to be made fun of.”

The week before Ortega’s daughter’s accident, another mother, Jasmine Alayadhi, says a similar thing happened to her daughter. According to KOIN:

“[She] didn’t want to be left out. [She] wanted to have popcorn with her friends. And so she tried to hold it…She said it hurt so bad the pain was so bad – [She] just had to let it go,’ Alayadhi said.”

Of course, a spokesperson for the school defended the program, saying it’s a paty of the school’s “classroom management strategy,” which sounds to me like a fancy way of saying “too lazy to actually manage the classroom” strategy. According to the spokesperson, Gail Spolar:.

“It’s all part of how they manage the classroom and so that was the process decided on. Students are afforded multiple bathroom breaks throughout the day and have never been denied using a restroom in an emergency.”

Except when they’re not. According to Fox News, the girls have switched classrooms and are doing better, but Ortega isn’t satisfied and is still planning to sue the school:

‘My next step is hopefully trying to take legal action. My daughter has got to go to counseling because it’s really messed with her emotions.”

Can you imagine how embarrassed those kids had to be? I once peed myself in first grade from laughing too hard at recces and I was called “Pee Pants McGee” for two years (kids aren’t very clever, are they?). I’m not usually one to defend a lawsuit like this, but looking back on my own humiliation, I can understand this mother’s fury. I hope they end this embarrassing and inhumane practice, and a lawsuit might be just the thing to make them change it.

(Photo: Shutterstockfotocociredef73


  1. AmazingAsh

    May 31, 2014 at 10:32 am

    Nine is old enough to learn to use designated bathroom breaks. I have a hard time believing one of the girls needs therapy over this.

    • KaeTay

      May 31, 2014 at 1:32 pm

      we don’t have to pay to use restrooms in the “real world” why should a 9 year old have to pay to use a restroom in school.. it’s a natural everyday function that HAS to be attended to. Not allowing someone to go to the bathroom or holding it actually damages your body and you don’t know how she’s being treated. She could have a form of PTSD over it. You can get PTSD over any type of high humiliation and tramatizing events (My sister got it from a day at work with a M.R. patient who beat on her). I’m sure the girl will be fine but you’ve never been in that situation so don’t you dare judge.

    • CMJ

      May 31, 2014 at 1:34 pm

      Actually, you do in many places in Europe.

    • KaeTay

      May 31, 2014 at 1:39 pm

      none of my european friends have told me about it.. or have any issues like this.. and this isn’t Europe this is a school in the U.S where we understand holding it can hurt you

    • CMJ

      May 31, 2014 at 1:42 pm

      I was just responding to your comment “we don’t have to pay to use the restrooms in the ‘real world'”. That’s just not true.

    • KaeTay

      May 31, 2014 at 1:47 pm

      I guess I’ll have to ask friends I’ve gathered who live in various places to see how common it is.

    • CMJ

      May 31, 2014 at 1:51 pm

      They also exist in San Francisco. FYI.

    • Alicia Kiner

      May 31, 2014 at 2:45 pm

      See that’s insane to me. Why do you have to pay to use them?

    • Audrey

      May 31, 2014 at 2:49 pm

      They’re in some places in Boston as well. At one mall I know of you can get little coins from the stores to use the bathroom, otherwise you have to pay. It limits the people using the restrooms, giving priority to actual customers. For everyone else it’s a quarter, I believe.

    • AP

      May 31, 2014 at 4:36 pm

      Boston has token/key operated mall/fast food restrooms because in the 90s, there was a nasty rape/murder in a McDonald’s bathroom by a homeless person and the McDonald’s was found to be at fault for not regulating bathroom traffic. A lot of stores were afraid of that happening again, and made it so you had to have staff unlock the restroom for you, so they could keep track of who was in the bathroom and deter the homeless from camping out in there.

    • Audrey

      May 31, 2014 at 9:07 pm

      Yeesh. Didn’t know that part of it. 🙁 That definitely makes sense, then.

    • Dramatic Anti-Climax

      May 31, 2014 at 2:52 pm

      I’ve been to some in France and Switzerland. They are absolutely awesome. Toilet paper, sit down seats, really clean restrooms, I think one of them had mints. (TP and sit down seats aren’t a given there, you bring your own TP).

    • Justme

      May 31, 2014 at 3:02 pm

      Because they are maintained by the city and it costs money to make sure there are clean, functioning facilities for the public to use. It’s usually not a whole lot of money, but it does help offset the cost of maintaining the facility while simultaneously keeping taxes down for the residents, especially in cities that have a high number of tourists.

    • Alicia Kiner

      May 31, 2014 at 8:21 pm

      Well, I guess that makes sense. I’ve honestly never heard of this before. Hmm.

    • Aldonza

      June 1, 2014 at 2:20 am

      Actually, it’s kind of nice. It’s not a lot of money (I remember paying a lot with the change I had in my pocket) and it means that they will be clean and well maintained.

    • Justme

      May 31, 2014 at 2:20 pm

      I’ve paid in London, Amsterdam, Rome, and Germany.

    • Gina

      June 1, 2014 at 11:44 pm

      I had a difficult time finding a ‘free’ toilet when I was in London. Even in nice department stores you had to pay. We take it for granted but it’s different there. However, there are LOTS of things you can say that about. Free refills on drinks, water with your meal when you go out to eat… we assume those are free too, but they’re not in Europe.

    • Byron

      May 31, 2014 at 5:39 pm

      We’re mainly taught to go before leaving the house. Public restroom situations are revolting and low class that it’d make you seem like a savage who can’t hold it if you used them. That or homeless or something. In 17 years of living in Europe I can’t recall ever using public restrooms not located inside a dining establishment I was having a meal at and never have I actually sat down on a toilet not in my own dwelling or hotel room. I guess it’s a difference of culture or something. Anything public is instantly perceived as filthy and you’re just taught to plan ahead regarding the consumption of liquids etc.

    • blh

      June 1, 2014 at 1:11 pm

      That makes absolutely no sense. So you either never stay out long to avoid peeing and/or you don’t dare drink anything whole your out? So dumb. If your out all day you have to go to the batthroom.

    • chickadee

      May 31, 2014 at 1:56 pm

      Yes, I have paid to pee in Italy, France, and Switzerland…

    • Ennis Demeter

      June 1, 2014 at 4:01 pm

      At work? At school?

    • chickadee

      June 1, 2014 at 9:15 pm

      Of course not. But my comment was regarding the statement that no one anywhere charges anything for restrooms. It simply isn’t true.

      And many, many public schools (including my daughter’s) provide opportunities to earn or buy additional bathroom privileges. No one stops these children from using the bathroom during breaks, or lunchtime…no one has set up a system in which the only way a child can EVER use the bathroom at school is to pay. To assume that is to misread the story.

    • Sri

      May 31, 2014 at 1:36 pm

      No, but there are several jobs where you aren’t allowed to leave the floor or office outside of scheduled times, and teaching kids that they need to use the bathroom during scheduled times isn’t a bad thing.

      The “pay” factor is asking kids to set priorities. If you are able to make the courteous and responsible decision to use the bathroom during scheduled times (where you wouldn’t miss things like instructions or work time) you are rewarded with snacks. The problem is that most 9 year olds are neither courteous or responsible,

    • KaeTay

      May 31, 2014 at 1:41 pm

      a bathroom still isn’t something you pay for.. it’s a necessity for our bodies. There are other ways to teach responsibility.. such as classroom chores. Like passing out papers, collecting papers, handing out utensils..etc That’s how my teachers taught us. You could have to pay to use a extra utensil.. like an extra color of paint that isn’t your red green blue for art class.. there’s more creative ways.

      We used dinero’s in my spanish class.. you get them from doing various spanish games we played and you could use them to skip doing homework.. I never did homework.

    • Sri

      May 31, 2014 at 4:23 pm

      Except that this isn’t a lesson in responsibility with respect to materials use or homework. This was specifically designed to teach children that there are inappropriate times to get up in the middle of class to use the bathroom. I mean, I agree that it could be better implemented. For example, I would rather the students be able to turn in x number of tickets for a “no homework” pass or something, or that the tickets could only be redeemed at the end of the week for students under 4th or 5th grade, but I don’t think that the system is “inhumane” as other people have called it.

    • Justme

      May 31, 2014 at 2:20 pm

      You don’t always have to pay per se, but you do have to know when it is and is not appropriate to use the restroom. Not every job will allow their workers to use the restroom at their leisure and children need to understand that they must take care of their personal business at the appropriate times.

    • K.

      June 1, 2014 at 4:15 am

      I agree that by 9, kids should be aware of the rules regarding bathroom breaks…but that doesn’t preclude them from having gastrointestinal problems one day or a bad reaction to cafeteria food another or deciding to drink 8 cups of juice the week after. That’s why I think that the bathroom rules have to be somewhat flexible. I teach HS and even though the know they aren’t supposed to use class time to go to the bathroom, I always let them go because there’s a lot of legitimate reasons why they might HAVE to go (at the HS level, you can add leaky tampon to the above list).

      The problem is that the money aspect to this plan encourages a kind of rigidity that isn’t really appropriate for bathroom use.

  2. rachel

    May 31, 2014 at 10:56 am

    This is obviously an appalling situation but I don’t necessarily agree with suing the school seemingly to be the automatic resource for screw-ups. I’m not familiar with whether they have liability insurance or not, but doesn’t it stand to reason that if a school is sued, all those millions (and it’s always millions) adversely affect available resources for the kids/teachers? Ignoring the fact that schools spend way too much on football stadiums and such, it doesn’t make sense to expect schools who do stupid things (like make kids pay to go to the bathroom) are going to step up and do better with less financing.

  3. Melissa

    May 31, 2014 at 11:39 am

    I don’t think it’s a misguided attempt at teaching fiscal responsibility. In fact, I think this is a pretty great way to teach kids to make smart choices between what they want (snacks) and what they need (to use the bathroom). I wouldn’t view it as child abuse, since the kids did have other opportunities to use the bathroom. Unfortunately, whatever lessons these kids would have learned by making the wrong choice (want over need) will be negated by the parents’ overreactions and enabling behavior.

    • Vicki Lewis

      May 31, 2014 at 2:51 pm

      I totally agree with you too. Going to the bathroom should never be called a “privilege”. And while I think it’s a great idea to give children Monopoly money for snacks and things to teach them about budgeting and priorities and everything, bathroom breaks just should not be in the list of things they have to spend that money on because that is stupid.

    • Vicki Lewis

      May 31, 2014 at 2:54 pm

      Meant to reply to the above comment by KaeTay, sorry!

  4. Bex Francis

    May 31, 2014 at 11:42 am

    Meh. I don’t have a problem with this. Good strategy in fact!

  5. mediocrity511

    May 31, 2014 at 11:59 am

    Counselling over one wet pants incident?! Honestly, reading that, I wonder if the mother is going to damage her child more by making a massive deal out of it. Mum should be mad as hell with the school and complain. But lawsuits and media attention, keeping her kid off school and sending her too therapy….the message being sent here is that wetting your pants is the worst thing ever, when it really, really isn’t. Mum should be reassuring the girl that it’s ok, accidents happen and that she is going to talk to the school to change policy, not acting as if her child has undergone major trauma.

    • Momma425

      May 31, 2014 at 12:08 pm

      Basically, yes. Also, attracting media attention to the situation is probably what I would be the most embarrassed about if I was the kid.
      I peed my pants in first grade- I was outside at recess. I immediately “tripped and fell” in a puddle so that I would have a better excuse- but I was so embarrassed! I can’t imagine my mother freaking out and having my name in every newspaper and the Internet about the incident and calling more attention to it.

    • Byron

      May 31, 2014 at 7:18 pm

      I once peed myself in kindergarten. I pretended nothing had happened and sat up from th chair. Then an innocent bystander sat in it and got wet, not missing a chance I shouted that he had peed himself. The diversion payed off, he was made to take the fall as nobody believed the chair was already wet and somehow nobody noticed my shorts being wet so I excaped ridicule.

      I was an evil kid…

  6. Momma425

    May 31, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    I live in Washington state. I remember in middle school, we were given “hall passes” in our classes- usually between two and four pieces of paper that we could choose to surrender to the teacher throughout the semester. If we didn’t use our hall passes, we could return them for extra credit at the end of the semester.
    It was the teacher’s way of ensuring that kids didn’t skip their class in the restroom everyday (lots of kids do that- take forever long bathroom breaks and meet up a friend and do lord knows what) and teaches kids to plan their day (which includes bathroom breaks) in a responsible manner.
    In elementary school, we had a “one kid out of class at a time” rule, basically to avoid groups of kids going in there together and goofing around. So sometimes, if there were a bunch of kids who raised their hands before I did- I had to wait a bit to use the restroom. There needs to be some kind of a system in place otherwise, you will have kids up and wandering around throughout the day. I think 9 years old is plenty old enough for bladder control.

    • Justme

      May 31, 2014 at 2:38 pm

      My old school had a punch card system for middle schoolers – one card with 12 punch spaces per six weeks. The kids could use this lunch card for whenever they needed to leave the room, whether it was for the bathroom or to go to their locker to retrieve their homework. It worked remarkably well.

  7. chickadee

    May 31, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    Suing? Counseling? Well, I suspect that the children are having such a hard time with it because the parents are making a federal case out of it. If this approach to bathroom visits was being applied to 5-year-olds then I would disagree, but they are 9. And they have multiple break times PLUS the passes to use the facilities during the day. Unless the child has a UTI, she should be able to use the scheduled breaks to manage her needs.

    • Sri

      May 31, 2014 at 1:33 pm

      This is what I was thinking. If they just had a bathroom break, and then the girl wanted to leave? Yeah, it’s perfectly reasonable to think that she’s just trying to get out of work and refuse the request. If the teacher is in the middle of the lesson or activity, and it’s not a good time to use the bathroom, it’s reasonable to postpone the request until a better time.

      My school has a policy where we are not allowed to refuse students from using the restroom, but we can limit them to 1 at a time. I can’t tell you how many times I have to repeat myself because Jimmy walked out of the room as I was starting my lesson, fucked around in the bathroom for 10 min (we’re not allowed to question why it took him 10 min or refuse him from going again before the class is over), and then came back and didn’t get what he was supposed to do. Ugh. I wish we had a policy like when I was in middle school- 3 min of transition time between classes plus 3 hall passes per week- which were for the locker, bathroom, nurse, etc, not just bathroom.

    • chickadee

      May 31, 2014 at 1:53 pm

      Yeah, bathroom-on-demand is a big education interruption. I think these two girls made poor choices, since I know that this is not the only school that uses this approach, and uses it effectively. I just don’t know why the parents didn’t handle this discreetly…how, exactly, does it help the girls to have their pants-wetting accidents get plastered all over the internet?

    • Justme

      May 31, 2014 at 2:27 pm

      I’ve gotten to the point with my 8th graders that most of them aren’t allowed to use the bathroom during my class at all. We were having MAJOR problems with them roaming the halls and getting into trouble in the bathroom. There are some frequent fliers who ask to use the bathroom every single day and I’ve just stopped letting them go because I know their abusing my kindness and just trying to get out of doing any sort of work. But the kids that never ask to leave my room and are all caught up on their assignments – they absolutely get to go. Is it fair? Probably not in the eyes of some posters on this thread, but life isn’t about being fair. Life is about making choices and enduring consequences.

    • Lackadaisical

      May 31, 2014 at 3:07 pm

      We have an up to the teacher policy. The teacher I assist knows the kids well enough to know that kid a is avoiding work and kid b has bad bladder control so needs to go as often as they ask. Its a younger class, at 5-6 years they have only had one year of compulsory full time education before they began the year, and as we are lower down the school we have more teaching assistants to spare to check from the corridor if there are sounds of larking about from the lav, but leaving it up to the teacher seems to work. By secondary school (11) it is break (recess in US?) only

    • Rowan

      May 31, 2014 at 3:22 pm

      It used to piss me off (pun intended) SO MUCH when kids would ask to go to the toilet literally 2 minutes after walking into the classroom in the lesson after break. Especially since 99% of the time it was “I want to carry on texting my friend and now she’s in a different classroom”. GAH!

    • Lackadaisical

      May 31, 2014 at 3:34 pm

      Mobiles are banned in every British school I know, that helps. A lot of kids just know when a kid means it or is chancing it. If a teacher is given the power to decide by the school and knows the class and has control of them it tends not to be such an epic problem. The problem is often when you are supposed to let them go regardless of what you know. 3 mins into the lesson with time to go before the lesson is just extracting the Michael.

    • Rowan

      June 2, 2014 at 4:21 am

      Not in the ones where I taught, sadly. Amazing how many kids “couldn’t afford” to buy their own pens, rulers, basic calculators etc but had iPhones.

    • Lackadaisical

      June 2, 2014 at 4:40 am

      Yes, no money for basics but somehow an expensive phone bugs me too. Often accompanied by many other expensive goodies, like the latest consoles and TVs in each kids’ bedroom, yet no money for a pair of shoes that fit the kid or a proper waterproof coat.

      As to the no ban on mobiles I guess my mum taught at and my kids attend schools that are a bit more old fashioned. No mobiles is definitely enforced and followed by kids at the primary my kids are in (no surprise) and the secondary I am sending my eldest to in September (according to friends with older kids there and my mum who worked there for a couple of years to ease herself into retirement after moving cities). No mobiles, or mobiles in lockers on silent during school hours, ought to be a rule in every school as far as I am concerned. There is no reason a kid needs a phone in a lesson and in an emergency parents can send messages through the office.

    • Rowan

      June 2, 2014 at 4:57 am

      Absolutely. The kids would always say “but it’s an emergency, what if my mum needs to contact me?” When my then-2yo son had to be taken to hospital to get stitches in his head, how did I hear? Via an office message.

      My son’s school has no mobiles policy, thank god.

    • Lackadaisical

      June 2, 2014 at 5:44 am

      Yes, parents shouldn’t be calling kids directly in an emergency (and finding the kid has left their swimming kit at home or whatever minor drama worries helicopter parents is really not an emergency). If there is a genuine emergency the school have to be involved. By going through the office whoever told you about your kid’s accident was simultaneously letting the office know that your class needed cover so you could go to him if there wasn’t another family member with him. Even if the message is as urgent as “your mum is dying in hospital, come quick” the office need to be involved to clear the kid leaving in school hours and also make sure that the kid is not traumatised by the news and in need of calming down, which a teacher can’t sort in the middle of teaching a class. There is no way a kid should get that direct to their phone in class.

      I can understand that kids who use buses and trains to travel home unaccompanied need a phone in a locker for the journey home, you can’t give your kid 20p for emergency phone calls in public telephone boxes like our parents gave us as there are so few working phone booths. Also kids with after school clubs may need a phone for after hours. However the phone can sit in a locker switched to silent, even during lunch break

    • Lackadaisical

      May 31, 2014 at 2:58 pm

      Depends on the kid. I have known plenty of kids who get a “this kid goes to the lav whenever they ask, immediately, no matter how many times they have been already” warning passed from teacher to teacher as they move up the school. A lot have been sorted out by doctors or have grown out of it by 9 but certainly not all of them. Unless those kids are exempt you will have problems. Having a kid exempt draws attention to them. My 11 year old could make the whole day without a break, my 5 year old could survive with one during lunch hour, but my nearly 8 hear old would smell of wee all day. He has trouble enough fitting in as even though he is definitely mainstream education he has slurred speech, is as tall as his big brother, and despite being the smartest of a combined class with the year above struggles a bit on social skills. If he was part of the scheme he would forgo snack and still wet himself and if they made exceptions for him the whole class would really, really notice.

  8. Sara610

    May 31, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    I get the lesson that the school was trying to teach, and in general I think it’s a valid one, but the execution seems really ham-fisted to me.
    I totally understand the frustration of kids using the bathroom as an excuse to skip class and/or meet up with friends, and that can’t be allowed to happen because it really does cause a huge disruption. The teacher shouldn’t have to be the Bathroom Police. But there are a lot of other, more effective ways to teach kids this particular lesson. And yes, a nine year old–unless she has a medical reason that she can’t hold it–is old enough to be able to use the bathroom during designated breaks during the day or wait until a good point in the lesson.

  9. Sara610

    May 31, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Also, my husband’s and my nickname for our two year old is “Poo Pants McGee”. We don’t call her that to her face or to anyone else, though. 🙂

  10. Zettai

    May 31, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    I’ve been hearing about this for the last two months it seems but I still feel like if your kid, knowing the idea, the rules, CHOSE snacks over peeing, LITERALLY, then they are missing the lesson on priorities that is being taught.

    In the real world sometimes you have to do the same thing at work, choose to use your scheduled break time to go to the bathroom or the vending machine or to smoke or whatever. You might not have to go when break comes up but priorities–you’ll go anyway just to avoid feeling the burn when you’re working.

    Once again, parents avoid and absolve their kid of responsibility and then wonder why they grow up to be spoiled assholes. Therapy? Suing the school? WTF.

    • KaeTay

      May 31, 2014 at 1:35 pm

      no job ever requires you to schedule a pee break on your break.. no job ever.. not the military not a cashiering job.. there’s always someone who can cover you. Your reasoning is extremely invalid and rediculous. She’s 9 not 13.. No one has the right to tell you no to a bathroom break. Even when i worked a place with no public restroom i still let parents take their children to it because I know children don’t have nearly the same amount of restraint as adults do. Their bodies aren’t developed and even then not everyones body is built the same with the same strength. Like me, on road trips I can’t have a SINGLE drink of anything or we will have to stop at every single public restroom we drive by.. my husband drinks the entire ride and only has to go once.

    • Sri

      May 31, 2014 at 1:39 pm

      No, there literally are jobs where you can’t leave. I was told that I could be fired for leaving my retail job to take a bathroom break not on my break time. I held a job at a financial company where I was told that I would be fired if I left my phone bank unattended at any time except for scheduled breaks. Now, as a teacher, I can’t leave any students unattended, ever, so I can only use the bathroom during my prep periods, or else I can be fired.

    • Rumaikiyya

      May 31, 2014 at 3:20 pm

      What’s a (mostly) appropriate expectation for an adult is not an appropriate expectation for a middle-school aged child.

    • Justme

      May 31, 2014 at 3:24 pm

      Yes, it absolutely is.

    • Sri

      May 31, 2014 at 4:12 pm

      You’re right! Here, I thought I went to school to learn how to teach middle school aged children skills that they will use later in life, but really I was doing it all wrong! I shouldn’t set clear expectations for students and still give them some wiggle room (notice that kids still get a few hall passes) because they aren’t capable of being responsible! I mean, I can’t teach them that they need to be responsible, that would just be madness!

    • MamaLlama

      June 1, 2014 at 2:11 pm

      Exactly my response!

    • mediocrity511

      May 31, 2014 at 2:03 pm

      Simply untrue. Do you think paramedics are allowed to pull over during the middle of a shout? That teachers leave classes unattended? That doesn’t include the kinds of jobs like gardening where there is simply nowhere to go. My friend who works in a call centre has scheduled bathroom breaks. We expect adults and children to be able to hold it in for short periods of time, unless they have medical issues.
      Remember also that these girls were allowed to use the toilet whenever they needed to, but they chose to have snacks instead. Even then, they were allowed to go during break times.
      As for everyone not being built the same, I have had a genuine medical issue with urge incontinence. You know what the treatment for that is, bladder training. Basically you have to practise holding it in for lengthening periods of time, because if you don’t, you don’t have those muscle skills. There are other things, like avoiding caffeine and citrus, but holding it for short periods of time is normal, healthy and a form of treatment for those with bladder issues.

    • Justme

      May 31, 2014 at 2:21 pm

      I teach middle school and cannot leave my class in the middle of a lesson to use the restroom. I have to wait until my conference period or lunch break.

      ETA: Also, if a child has a true, diagnosed medical condition where they MUST use the restroom immediately and whenever they need to, their parents need to submit paperwork to the nurse who can then issue the child a permanent bathroom pass that bypasses the system of restroom breaks the teacher has set up in her classroom.

    • Rowan

      May 31, 2014 at 3:19 pm

      The number of times I got to the end of the teaching day and thought “Dammit, I’ve been meaning to go pee since 11am…” I can’t imagine what the little darlings would’ve done to my classroom if I’d left them alone in it for 5 minutes.

    • Sherri

      May 31, 2014 at 2:30 pm

      Not true. I could only use the restroom at my retail job on my breaks unless it was an emergency because there often isn’t anyone to cover. I could only use the restroom at my call center job on breaks because I wasn’t allowed to leave my phone unattended. I could only use the bathroom during conference lectures during the transition periods because you can’t just leave the stage to go to the bathroom.

      Ultimately, these girls knew the rules and chose to buy junk food over having some left over to use the bathroom if they needed it. My school did this in the 90s, and everyone put aside five “dollars” for restroom breaks immediately – that meant at least one bathroom break per day outside of recess and lunch.

    • Rumaikiyya

      May 31, 2014 at 3:18 pm

      They’re middle-school aged! It’s not developmentally appropriate to expect all middle-school age kids to always plan ahead. This is a great strategy for responsible eating because the worst case is kid doesn’t get a snack. It’s a horrible plan for responsible bathroom use because the worst case is that the kids pee on themselves.

    • Sherri

      May 31, 2014 at 10:01 pm

      I think it’s a reasonable assumption that once you reach middle school age, you understand that your choices have consequences. It might not be developmentally appropriate to expect middle-school age kids to plan ahead now, but once I hit fourth grade, unless it was an emergency, we weren’t allowed to go to the bathroom, period.

      Somehow, we all did just fine.

    • AugustW

      May 31, 2014 at 2:43 pm

      I’m guessing you’ve never worked in a medical setting before.

    • rachel

      May 31, 2014 at 3:03 pm

      Not true re: the military.

    • Momma425

      May 31, 2014 at 5:31 pm

      If I didn’t use the restroom on my breaks at work, I would have to leave in the middle of someone’s surgical procedure. Pretty sure that you’ve never had a colposcopy or endometrial biopsy where the nurse is doing the potty dance for 45 minutes, or where she just up and leaves in the middle.
      I had teachers in school who didn’t abruptly walk out of the classroom in the middle of their lectures to use the restroom. They waited until a hall passing time, or a break in their schedule.
      When I life guarded, I didn’t suddenly ditch the pool for 10 minutes and leave it unguarded so I could find someone to give me a bathroom break. I waited in the 10 foot chair for the entire 30 minute rotation.
      There are lots of jobs and situations in which you don’t just get to take a bathroom break whenever you want. I’ve never been on a bus that stops in the middle of the street so the driver can get out and take a piss, have you? I’ve never been in a courtroom where lawyers walk in and out willy nilly whenever they feel like it to pee. When I was in college, I was certainly allowed to get up and use the bathroom in the middle of a test- but I was not allowed to come back and finish the test.
      There are most certainly times in life where you DO need to hold it- be because you are working, or because there isn’t anywhere to stop the car for a few miles, or because the timing is not appropriate. My five year old has had to hold it. It sucks. But sometimes the situation is that she needs to wait to use the restroom. A nine year old certainly shouldn’t be expected to hold it for hours and hours, but to wait for a break in the lesson? Yes.

    • Gina

      June 2, 2014 at 12:01 am

      Well, that’s just not correct. The teacher can’t leave her/his job whenever she/he wants for a bathroom break. When I got my first office job I was amazed that I could go whenever I wanted because I’d never had that priviledge before in retail or in teaching.

    • Alexandra

      June 2, 2014 at 1:18 pm

      WOW this is so blatantly untrue. I”ve worked in factory floors and you CANNOT leave – there is NO ONE to cover you, you’re lucky to have a job. You get a 15 minute break in the morning and afternoon and 30 minutes for lunch. You honestly sound like you are the one who doesn’t know the “real world” count yourself lucky you’ve never been exposed to those types of jobs.

    • sharongibson

      May 31, 2014 at 2:29 pm

      I can understand doling out x amount of Monopoly dollars for a snack. If a given student has spent all her snack “money,” no snack for her. However, having to relieve oneself is a bodily function and no “money” should be attached to a visit to the bathroom to relieve herself.

  11. Alicia Kiner

    May 31, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    Using the bathroom isn’t a privilege, it’s a necessity. These children shouldn’t have to earn it or “budget” for it. Also, apparently there was a very large miscommunication, if two different girls wet their pants because they believed they weren’t allowed to go to the bathroom. That’s a problem. Plus, making children hold their peers is just asking for issues. Accidents, infections, etc.

    • KaeTay

      May 31, 2014 at 1:37 pm

      I’m glad someone else sees this situation the same as I do. They act like 9 year olds are adults with better control over their bodily functions. I would tell my kid if it got to where you didn’t think you could hold it, go to the bathroom even without permission and I’ll come in if there’s any problem and talk to the teacher and principal.

    • blh

      June 1, 2014 at 1:05 pm

      That’s exactly what I was about to say.

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    • mediocrity511

      May 31, 2014 at 2:14 pm

      They were allowed to go in their breaks without paying, so that’s never more than a couple of hours wait, for those children who are silly and spend all their passes on snacks. If they keep their passes, they are allowed to go whenever they need. We expect children and adults to wait short periods of time before going to a bathroom, infections will not be caused unless waits are extreme.
      I suggest you look into bladder training, as is used for treatment of patients with medical issues causing incontinence. Holding your pee for increasing periods of time is how you strengthen your bladder muscles, which prevents incontinence. You are actually risking kids having problems later on if you never encourage them to use those muscles.

    • Alicia Kiner

      May 31, 2014 at 2:43 pm

      Personal experience let’s me see that every child is different and has different needs, especially when talking about bladder issues. My sister is currently waiting for a kidney transplant as a result of a birth defect my daughter shares. One of the symptoms, I guess, is that neither of them can feel when they need to pee until it’s pretty much what most people would consider an emergency. I realize this is not a common issue, but still. The idea of a child, or anyone really, being expected to pay to pee is ludicrous to me. By all means, limit the Times, number of students, require passes. Children especially can’t always control when they have to go. That’s one reason that most parents make their kids go to the bathroom before they leave the house.

    • Justme

      May 31, 2014 at 3:05 pm

      Then your daughter has a medical condition and can be issued a permanent restroom pass from the nurse. I have two kids with bladder/bowel issues that are allowed to use the restroom whenever they need to, no questions asked. They are considered Other Health Impaired and have SPED 504 paperwork that specifies these accommodations be made in the classroom and throughout the school day.

    • Rumaikiyya

      May 31, 2014 at 3:13 pm

      A couple of hours is a long wait when you need to use the bathroom, not a short wait! Also, kids can develop medical issues and so need to use the bathroom frequently before anyone yet knows why.

    • K.

      June 1, 2014 at 4:04 am

      I think the issue is the money, frankly–i.e. they came up with a system that doesn’t work in illustrating what they intend it to illustrate (be careful what perks you buy because you need to budget for your necessities).

      I mean, I don’t think it’s THAT unusual for teachers of 9/10-year-olds to tell their kids, “You are not supposed to use the bathroom during class time; you have to use it on your recess and lunch breaks.” The money is what makes this issue different.

  12. Guest

    May 31, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    I agree that this is an excuse to not have to manage the class. I teach kindergarten, and for the first few months of school we would have a brief talk everyday about the best time to use the bathroom (snack, lunch, playtime). I also got to know my students well enough to be able to know who actually had to use the bathroom and who is just going to avoid doing work. That and a few discussions on not saying it’s an emergency when it’s not actually an emergency and voila, minimal bathroom accidents this year

  13. Katie L.

    May 31, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    This is not an unheard of school/classroom management bathroom strategy. I don’t use it myself, but I do know of teachers who do similar things (limited number of passes, tickets, etc.) I’ve had students who do a pretty convincing potty dance that I’ve let go, only to find that they chose to scale the stalls or goof off with friends instead. It could very well be that this teacher had these two girls telling her they HAD to go (and if it was at the same time that would be pretty suspicious) and based on prior experience, she chose to not to send them. You’re between a rock and a hard place when it comes to kids and the bathroom.

  14. sharongibson

    May 31, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    This is downright inhumane. And besides, how effective is managing a class after a student has wet herself, upset or shocked her classmates, and consequently having to call in maintenance to clean up the mess?

    • Syd

      June 2, 2014 at 2:26 pm

      That’s what I don’t understand…what teacher wants to gave urine all over her classroom? Wouldn’t you think that many measures would be taken to ensure that no bodily fluids wind up on the floor?

  15. Choming Girl

    May 31, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    I can’t believe on this news because

  16. allison

    May 31, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    I would tell my kids if they really needed to use the restroom then just leave and go to the restroom. There are times in life you can make the decision to break the rules and accept the consequences

  17. K2

    May 31, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    I wet myself once as an eight year old, in a new school with stricter teachers (I was too shy to ask). I was so lucky I don’t remember any abuse, I think I got away there. But a year later another kid peed himself and he got teased a bit (it was luckily mild though). I hate that asking to use the bathroom was often met with exasperation.. yes.. I need to pee,… AGAIN, yes.. are you counting?? gosh. Just let the kids go. You don’t pay to relieve your bladder!

  18. jendra_berri

    June 1, 2014 at 12:05 am

    I once was taking a midterm exam in high school. I had to go pee. I was denied, and then denied and then denied. I was told I’d have to accept a zero if I went. Eventually I said I’d take the zero. I was less than a minute away from urinating on myself.
    Turns out, that was the proof my teacher needed that I wasn’t attempting to cheat, so when I returned I was told I was allowed to hand in my exam.
    Thing is, I was 14 and obviously had superior bladder control to 9-year-olds, plus greater foresight to plan my behaviour accordingly (Bathroom before the exam maybe?) So I sympathize. If I couldn’t hold it when I was 14 then I can’t hold a kid to a higher standard.

  19. 1Hell

    June 1, 2014 at 1:57 am

    I feel like this is appropriate:

    Also, I threw up in the middle of class in 8th grade. I got teased about it for a month.

  20. Jenna Lynn C.

    June 1, 2014 at 3:29 am

    From elementary school to high school, I always hated using school restrooms. They’re usually pretty nasty. So I’ve always been able to hold it until I get home. So I never really cared what the bathroom policy was because it never affected me.

    That being said, the policy some teachers had at my 2nd high school was pretty bullshit. They used passes, and you were only allowed 3 bathroom breaks a semester (September – January). They would say we should’ve used our 6 minute passing time, which would be a fair argument if the school wasn’t overcrowded and an absolute nightmare to shove your way through.

    Also, my classes were all 90 minutes long. So even if you had used the restroom during passing time, odds are that the coffee you pounded earlier would catch up to you during the middle of class (the coffee you needed because you stayed up late the night before because said teacher also assigned you 200 Algebra 2 problems in addition to your 5+ hours of homework from your 7 other classes) and you can’t control that.

    Like I said earlier, I knew how to hold it, so that wasn’t a problem for me. My problem would be during that time of the month and my “super maxi magic pad” shifted or just failed and I’d be sitting in a pool of blood because I’d used all my passes for the same thing happening before. And of course, the teachers never believe you when you tell them you’re on your period because everyone has used that excuse at this point to go to the restroom.

    I totally get why teachers regulate bathroom breaks (my first high school was an extremely laid back art school, you don’t want to know what would happen in the restrooms), I mean I’m guilty of leaving class to go call my mom or fix my hair/make up, or to just take a break. But limiting the number of times or using passes is just not the right way to do it. The one at a time approach is the best one I’ve seen used.

  21. That_Darn_Kat

    June 2, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    I am almost 29 years old, and I’ve always had a small bladder. I have to use the restroom several times a day. In school, we were encouraged to use the restroom between classes, as we transitioned from one class to another. However, sometimes your class would be all the way across the school, and you’d need to swing by your locker before you went to class, and by the time you did that, there just wasn’t time to use the restroom (because you’d get in trouble if you were running in the halls trying to do everything). I would do everything I could to avoid having to take class time to use the restroom, but sometimes you just have to go. And yes, I tried training my bladder and all that good fun stuff, but it just doesn’t work for me.

  22. Alexandra

    June 2, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    I’m sorry but Pee Pants McGee is a very awesome nickname and just made me spit out my lunch a bit.

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