COMMENTARY: Delaware’s pee problem

Teachers hear it all the time: “Can I go to the bathroom?” Now, if you had to pee, you would just do it, right? Unless you could hold it for a little bit until a more convenient time. But nature always wins this battle. Peeing is not a voluntary event. So, why am I hearing about more and more schools restricting when kids can go to the bathroom?

To be fair, students can and will abuse the bathroom visit rights. I did it in school. For whatever reason, there are some kids who just have to pee. I’ve heard some horror stories about teenagers peeing their pants. Or they could be stuck in testing and can’t get out.

Some kids will get up to no good in a school bathroom. It happens. But what about those kids who absolutely have to go? Should they be held back from peeing because of some bad apples? I would think most teachers would know who those students are. And I’m not saying this is every school.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, it is normal to have to pee six to eight times a day. Pee is your body’s way of detoxing your system. It gets rid of the bad stuff. Most people, especially students, tend to pee for about seven seconds on average. So, by the time a student gets to the bathroom, does the pee thing, washes their hands (they better), and gets back to class, it shouldn’t be a journey of more than three minutes, tops. Is it worth having a student feel uncomfortable?

Sending all kids to go to the bathroom all at once could make it worse. Some students have “performance anxiety” around other kids or get caught up in fooling around in the bathroom. The anxiety is caused by a condition called parauresis.

So, if the average school days is seven hours, and that is roughly 30 percent of a student’s day (and that’s a full 24-hour day), it would stand to reason a student may have to go to the bathroom three times a day.

I’ve heard of one Delaware school where students can only pee once a day. Not sure what qualifies that school to be the urine police, but I smell a lawsuit eventually if they keep that up!

How long can someone hold off peeing before nature takes its course? It depends on the person. Once you feel the urge, you should probably go. But it won’t kill you to wait too long.

But if you wait too long, there could be an accident, or in rarer cases, a person could develop a urinary tract infection. Some kids may have health issues that prompt them to pee more than their peers. Your bladder doesn’t literally explode, but it could cause issues if you make this a habit.

Bottom line, schools need to be extra careful when it comes to pee. It is natural, it is real, and it should not be used so a teacher can control a classroom or get all their instruction out. Peeing is the most natural thing human beings do. We can’t get around it. Let the children pee!

I would love schoolteachers and administrators to comment on this, as well as students and parents. Does your school have a pee problem?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Kevin Ohlandt, of Dover, was a candidate for Capital School District Board of Education in last month’s election. He runs the Exceptional Delaware blog.

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