Monday, 18 October 2010

The dreaded school toilets

This BBC article about the school toilets really hit home with me. It speaks about how dirt and bullies lead to children avoiding the toilets.

I remember first avoiding the toilets at a young age , I think I was around 7 or 8 and I had just gone into junior school from infant school. The school was still rather old fashioned , the classrooms looked ancient but even worse the toilets were ancient. We had a outdoor toilet which consisted of about 8 cubicles which the whole of the junior school had to share. As well as being freezing cold (my bottom used to stick to the seat!) , they were dirty and often dark as the light never worked. I hated using them, would try and hold it in and wait until I got home but of course at such a young age, I could never just hold it in.

A year later the school has a refurbishment where they connected both the infant and junior school and turned it into a primary school. The toilets were improved and were put in doors , they were modern and often checked at break times by the dinner ladies so bullying wasn't really something that happened.

That was until I went to secondary school. I made no secret about the fact I was bullied , and the toilets were somewhere where bullying often took place. Having your head slammed into a basin? Not fun.. trust me!
I used to find all sorts of ways to get out of using the toilets where most of the bullying took place. I would sneak up to the English block to use the teacher toilets up there or into the changing rooms to use them. These had risks , if the bullies were to follow me then I had no chance. No one would walk in to stop the bullies or if I was to tell the teacher I would get the answer 'well you shouldn't of been using them'.

I was so pleased when in year 10 I could forge my mother's signature to get a lunchtime pass. This meant if I needed the toilet I could pop to Mcds down the road, and then after I used to go and sit in the park to eat my sandwiches to avoid the bullying. Of course as I got older and nearer to finishing school, I just skived completely as it was the easiest way to avoid bullying.

They were often dirty, toilet paper all over the walls and ceiling from where bored students got them wet and chucked them around. We never had any soap or towels available , I remember drying my hands on toilet paper when we lucky enough to have some available. Graffiti was everywhere, all over the doors, walls and mirrors. I often found my name scribbled on the wall with some kind of insult or a picture, but of course the teachers did nothing about it when I reported it, how could they? There was no proof to who did it. It would be covered up with some paint a few days later by the caretaker where then a few days later another insult took its place.

School toilets for me holds nothing but bad memories and it saddens me to hear that they are still creating bad memories for youngsters these days. The toilets I grew up using in public schools were just like the ones you find in public toilets or bars.

What were the school toilets like when you were younger? Did you use to dread going into them or was it a safe place for you to do your 'business'?