February 12, 2000

Letter to Editor Re: "Teacher in Urnination Flap," The New York Times, February 11, 2000
By Laurie A. Couture

Dear Editor:

It is a gross human rights violation to deny a child use of the toilet when that child's physiology deems necessary. The case of the teacher in Montgomery Ala. who denied a 13 year old boy use of the toilet, despite his repeated requests, is not an isolated or rare case. Children all over the country suffer this abuse on a daily basis in school, often in the name of punishment. Most are afraid to speak up about this abuse or challenge teachers. Many school teachers view toilet use as a privilege that must be earned or that can be denied based on the child's behavior or the convenience of the teacher. The elimination of bodily wastes appears not to be viewed by these teachers as a basic right attributed to all human beings. The forced retention of bodily wastes puts one at risk for damage to the bladder, sphincter muscles, kidney function and can result in bowel obstructions. Children learn unhealthy attitudes about health and the human body when their basic needs are not provided for. The Internet is abundant in pornography-related websites devoted to the fetishes of forced urine retention. I feel that the teacher, Carey Jones should be severely reprimanded and his right to teach removed. However, not because of the charge of "contributing to the delinquency of a minor", but because of the neglect of a child's basic need. The sexually abusive nature of causing a child to be degraded in front of an audience is unacceptable and traumatizing and cannot be ignored. The child is at no fault. The child's actions were done in desperation and are fully understandable. I dare say that the child had no other alternative: Had the child bolted out of class to use the toilet, he would have no doubt suffered detention or other such punishment for performing this very necessary function. No adult would tolerate such treatment by another adult. No adult would expect themselves to be able to concentrate on tasks while concentrating on retaining bodily waste. We need to ask ourselves why we view the basic needs of children with the disregard that is shown daily by teachers and caretakers who deny toilet use.

Laurie A. Couture
Exeter, New Hampshire

See related materials:

  1. Health Risks to Children Associated With Forced Retention of Bodily Waste - A statement by health care professionals

  2. Are Your Children Safe in School? - Confronting the Issue of Teachers who Deny Toilet Use, by Laurie couture

  3. University of Iowa Study: Elementary Schools Need A Lesson In Bathroom Breaks, by Christopher Cooper, M.D.

  4. The Medical Risks Of Forced Retention of Urine, by Laurie A. Couture, M.Ed., 2003
    (Use your browser's "back" button to return to this index.)

  5. Letters from Parents About Denial of Toilet Usage in their Child’s School
    (Use your browser's "back" button to return to this index.)

  6. Forced Retention of Bodily Waste: The Most Overlooked Form of Child Maltreatment by Laurie A. Couture, 2001

  7. Using the Bathroom Is Your Right, Not a Privilege! By Laurie A. Couture

  8. IMAGE: First graders, Wesley School, Houston, Texas: "One of the school's special aspects is its regimented bathroom break every morning," Contra Costa Times, February 11, 2001.

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