Bathroom break denial: Learning obedience to authority the wet way
By T. P., November 28, 2009

I just found your website and wanted to thank you for all of the helpful information about abuse in schools. Unfortunately, my child was also abused in school. I was hoping that you could give me some advice about how to approach the School Board concerning the abuse or what I should include in my letter to them.

My daughter's Kindergarten Teacher and Assistant repeatedly bullied and abused my daughter over using the bathroom. The Principal knew about the abuse and wouldn't do anything to stop it, despite my complaints. Finally, a month after my first complaint, my daughter was moved to another class. She is getting better now but she still has a way to go. At times, she is still afraid to go to school. I think that the abuse still lingers in her mind and that she is not sure if she will be safe at school. Hopefully, she will continue to get better. I am trying to decide if I want to pull her out and homeschool her the rest of the year.

So far nothing has been done to stop this cruel teacher. She verbally abused a child last year over getting some answers wrong and reduced him to tears. She then ignored him the rest of the year after his mother complained to the Principal and wanted to retain him in Kindergarten because he didn't learn anything. The Assistant actually told the mother about her son being abused and even told the Principal about the incidents. The Principal ignored the complaints and swept everything under the rug. This Teacher has a long history of abuse but nothing has ever been done to stop her. The Principal still protects her and blames the child victims for everything. I am hoping that the School Board will do something about it, but I doubt they will. It is my hope that you can help in some way.

The Assistant that tried to warn the Principal about the incident last year is still this Teacher's Assistant. She is bullied by the Teacher too. She must have decided that it didn't do any good to complain or was threatened, because she actually took part in abusing my child too.

About the third week of school, my daughter started being terrified of going to school. She would cry and beg me not to leave her. She would have stomachaches and nausea before school and when at school. Her behavior completely changed from being happy and outgoing to terrified and withdrawn. She would be fine at home but afraid at school. The teacher kept pretending that she didn't know what was wrong with my daughter. She kept trying to blame my daughter's behavior on a physical problem when it fact it was because she was bullying and harassing her over using the bathroom. The teacher is like a Drill Sergeant to her class. She threatens punishment all day for every small thing and makes sarcastic remarks to the children all of the time. She humiliated, harassed and intimidated my daughter repeatedly over using the bathroom. My daughter was put through unnecessary doctor visits and medications to rule out physical causes for her symptoms when all along, the problem was the teacher was abusing her.

Here are some of the cruel mistreatment that has occurred over the right to use the bathroom. I repeatedly requested that my daughter be allowed to use the bathroom. The teacher would tell me that my daughter could use the bathroom when needed but then she would turn around and constantly interfere with my daughter's right to use the bathroom.

  1. My daughter was in the cafeteria and needed to use the bathroom. She asked her teacher if she could go. She was told "No!" My daughter felt like she couldn't hold it much longer so she asked again and was told No again. The teacher told my daughter that “She was pushing her buttons.” and threatened her with punishment of getting a ½ day bad note (which also meant loss of recess time) if she kept asking. My daughter didn't want to get in trouble so she tried to hold it. She couldn't, so she wet her pants.

    (After the incident occurred, I asked the teacher if she said that my daughter was “pushing her buttons“ about asking to use the bathroom. The teacher said sarcastically, “I believe that I did say that.” )

  2. The next day in the cafeteria my daughter asked her teacher if she could go to the bathroom. The teacher told her No! My daughter couldn't hold it. She told the teacher, “Last time you told me no, I wet my pants!” She then allowed her to go.

  3. My daughter told me that the rest of the week, she was wasn't allowed to go to the bathroom during lunch break. She was also told that if she asked to go or went to the bathroom she would get a ½ day bad behavior note (which also meant loss of recess time) but if she didn't ask to go she would get a whole day good behavior note. She was forced to hold it repeatedly because she didn't want to be punished.

  4. My daughter was also told that she would get a bad behavior note for asking to have a wipe to clean herself. (which her teacher had started and done the day before) There was a moment of silence which my daughter didn't know about since she was in the class restroom at the time. The teacher threatened my daughter with a ½ day bad behavior note for not being quiet at that time which also meant loss of recess time) My daughter became upset because she didn't want to get in trouble. She started crying. The teacher looked over the door and told my daughter “to pull her pants up and stop crying or she would take her to the Vice-Principal. Later on, the Teacher whispered to my daughter and told her that if she didn't tell anyone and was good for the rest of the day, she would give her a whole day good behavior note instead of a half-day good behavior note.

    (Later on, I mentioned this incident to teacher and about her telling my daughter that she would get a ½ day good behavior note instead of a whole day good behavior note for asking for a wipe. The teacher said, “I don’t think she got a ½ day note that day.” She didn’t even apologize to my child for being this cruel to her.)

  5. My daughter developed excessive urinary frequency from the stress that she was under at school. She asked to go to the bathroom, which was in the classroom. The teacher told her, “You need to stop going so much. You don’t have a bladder infection. I didn’t go that much when I had a bladder infection.“ She was denied use of the bathroom and started crying. Then later on that day, the assistant followed my daughter in the classroom bathroom 11 times in a row and watched her use it. She then wrote my daughter's name on the clipboard that was used for "bad" behavior notes. They recorded every time my daughter went and how many times she actually used it.

    The Principal went in the classroom previously that day to do an observation since I had requested that my daughter be moved. She told me about the incident in the classroom. She had written down how many times my daughter went to the bathroom in the cafeteria that day. She sarcastically told me about my daughter going to the bathroom so much. I told her that it was caused from the stressful environment that my daughter was in which is why I wanted her moved. I now feel that the Principal was the one that told the Assistant to follow her in the bathroom and record the amount of times that she went because she was doing the same thing herself in the cafeteria. This was the only day that anyone followed my daughter in the class bathroom. The Principal left my daughter in this class and still refused to move her. She keeps blaming my daughter for all of her problems and repeatedly defends the abusive teacher and assistant.

  6. My daughter was at lunch in the cafeteria. She asked the teacher if she could have a cookie. The teacher told her, “I’ll give you a cookie if you promise not to go to the bathroom. She gave my daughter the cookie. My daughter still felt like she needed to use the bathroom. She told the teacher that she still needed to go (she was trying to hold it.) The teacher told her, “You promised me you wouldn’t go.” So my daughter was forced to sit and hold it because she didn’t want to get in trouble.

  7. My daughter wet her pants several times because she was too afraid to ask to go to the bathroom or because she was denied going. She has not wet her pants since she was potty trained at 2. She was threatened punishment (which meant loss of some recess time and a bad behavior note) if she asked to go, so she tried to hold it but couldn't. Other times, she was denied and couldn't hold it because she was still having the frequency problem.

  8. After all of the threats of punishment, my daughter was actually punished with a bad behavior note and part of her recess taken away. Her crime was asking to use the bathroom at lunch. There is no school bathroom policy in the cafeteria. Her teacher made up a bathroom policy and told the class was told no one could go unless it was an "emergency". My daughter is on a prescribed laxative for constipation, which her teacher was aware of and had agreed to let my daughter go when needed. My daughter felt cramping in her stomach and asked to go to the bathroom. She wasn't able to actually use the bathroom, probably due to the constipation and the laxative not going into effect yet. She came out and told her teacher that "sometimes she couldn't tell the difference between having gas and having to really use it."

Her teacher told her, "You don't know the difference? Well, you will have to learn. I have to eat my lunch and I can't come to the bathroom just for a child to pass gas. She then punished my child by giving her a 1/2 day good behavior note instead of a whole day good behavior note and took 5 minutes of her recess away. My daughter became upset when she was given the bad note. The teacher told her, "Getting a 1/2 day good note is not the end of the world."

It is unbelievable what this cruel woman has put my child through. She has repeatedly tried to control my daughter by forcing her to either choose between not going to the bathroom and getting a good note and no punishment or going to the bathroom and getting a bad note and punishment. Most of the incidents have taken place in the cafeteria, which should be my daughter's free time. My daughter went for weeks without eating and drinking anything at school because she was afraid that she wouldn't be allowed to use the bathroom afterwards.

All of the above incidents occurred despite my repeated request to leave my daughter alone and let her use the bathroom as needed and despite my complaints to the Principal and asking for my child to be moved. I feel that the teacher doesn't like her since she is gifted and had already mastered Kindergarten before starting school. The teacher told me she couldn't advance her and to stop teaching her. She said that she has never had a child that knew everything in her class. She was always making sarcastic comments about my daughter being so bright. I have read that sometimes teachers bully gifted children because they are jealous or they feel that they have to cut the gifted child down to size to fit in with the other children. The Principal acts the same way towards my daughter. She also makes sarcastic comments about my daughter being gifted. Neither The Teacher nor the Principal have tried to help my daughter academically. I have never seen a school that acts like they don't want a gifted child to be there. My daughter taught herself to read at age 3. She mastered Kindergarten content at age 4, which was 2 years ago. But all she has learned at school is that Teachers can be cruel. She has spent her first three months of Kindergarten, which should be a happy time, battling with the teacher over using the bathroom, which is a basic human right, not a privilege.

Finally after 3 months of torture and fighting the principal, who kept telling me that my daughter couldn't be moved because the classes were full, despite knowing all of the abuse that was taking place, my daughter was finally moved to another kindergarten class. She scored the highest score on her standardized test out of 115 kindergartners and the principal wants to skip her to First Grade. She was trying to get me to allow the skip to First Grade right away instead of moving her to another 5K class. I think that the principal wanted to make it look like they did my daughter a favor by moving "the smart girl to First Grade" instead of making it look like their was a problem with the teacher in the class that she was in. Now, since the Superintendent talked to the Principal, all of a sudden, she acts concerned about my daughter's academic needs. I cannot talk to her about meeting my daughter's academic needs now because just a two weeks ago, she wasn't even concerned with meeting her physical and emotional needs. I am afraid that the Principal will retaliate against my daughter since I have complained to the Superintendent. She is very vindictive and manipulative, just like the Teacher, and I do not trust her to handle my daughter's academic future. So for now, my daughter is sitting in Kindergarten, learning nothing academically and trying to recover from being abused. All of this could have been prevented if the Principal would have taken action last year when the other parent complained.

I will not let this matter rest until I seek justice for my child. I just wished I would have realized what the teacher was doing this to my daughter so that I could have saved her all of the emotional distress that she is still going through. All along, the teacher and principal have acted like it is my child's fault for her own distress. I didn't know about some of the incidents until after they had occurred and my daughter started telling me. They are very good at trying to intimidate the parents and place the blame back on the child. Thankfully my child is smart enough and observant enough to tell me everything that has happened almost word per word, which has been verified by her teacher. This sadistic teacher sees nothing wrong with treating children this way. This monster must be stopped before she hurts other children!!

I apologize for the long email.

Any advice on where to go from here and/or how to handle the situation would be greatly appreciated!

See related: Health Risks to Children Associated With Forced Retention of Bodily Waste — A statement by healthcare professionals

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