Teachers should not have a right to deny a student the right to go to the bathroom. It is not the student’s problem to explain or negotiate whether an active bladder, the possible onset of diarrhea, a headache, nerves or other problems might be going on. If the student has a history of abusing bathroom privileges, then the problem should be addressed in another manner.
Denying bathroom breaks is a form of abuse, according to Child Advocate.org. The treatment is called “forced retention of bodily waste”. In 2001, Laurie A. Couture said,
“The practice by school teachers and other caretakers of denying children use of the toilet is commonplace. The so-called “bathroom privilege” in schools is often seen as precisely that: a privilege, not a necessity or a right. Denial of students’ access to the toilet is many times done for punitive reasons; rather than coming up with a positive, humane alternative, teachers often punish students who misuse the bathroom pass by denying or restricting their use of the toilet. Most often, rigid scheduling of designated bathroom use times, restriction and denial of toilet use is done for the sake of the caretakers’ convenience or their need for power and control.”
Teachers are not qualified to determine whether a student actually needs to use the bathroom or not. A bachelor’s degree and a credential do not give medical license to make evaluations about the cause of frequent bathroom breaks. If the teacher cannot figure out to send the student home or to the school medic for a determination whether the child is undergoing digestive or medical problems, then that teacher could cause their school district to be sued or worse, be charged with child abuse.
There are some real abuse issues going on in schools today, with a troubling racist component added in. The fact is that the child is in charge of bathroom breaks based on how his or her body is sending signals. If the activity is so frequent that no real classwork is possible, then the child needs to be evaluated for medical problems or sent home as too agitated to participate in class. After that, it is obvious that frequent need for the bathroom is a sign of problems and real professionals in the medical or psychological field need to be involved.
And finally, perhaps the child was trying to escape the attentions of a teacher who denies children bathroom breaks as part of an ongoing pattern of verbal, physical and emotional abuse.