Personal hygiene, environmental conditions, and toilet use of children in primary schools: A cohort study

Vered Shkalim Zemer*, Herman Avner Cohen, Yael Richenberg, Maya Gerstein, Ifat Atias, Shmuel Gur, Yoseph Laks, Yoel Levinsky, Or Dvir, Iris Brown, Moriya Cohen, David Ben Meir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Many primary school children withhold urine and stool whilst at school for various reasons. Limited toilet access and the failure to provide safe, sanitary toilets are putting children at risk for toilet avoidance behavior. Objective: We aimed to examine personal hygiene, environmental conditions, the perception of these on children, and their toilet use in primary schools. Study design: Children aged 6–12 and their parents were asked to complete a self-report questionnaire regarding toilet behavior and the perception of school toilet standards. Results: The main findings are listed below using the data from the questionnaire. Discussion: We found that 9% and 63% of the children avoided urination and defecating at school, respectively. Similar results were reported previously. The participants' perceptions regarding the environmental conditions of school toilets and conditions revealed that 34% of the children felt that the toilets were dirty or very dirty. Around one-third of them reported a lack of toilet paper sometimes or most of the time. These unsatisfying hygienic conditions of school toilets can be easily solved. Unfortunately, 46% of the children in our study experienced bullying in school toilets. These worrisome data are seldom reported in other studies. The urination habits of the girls, who mostly preferred to partially squat or stand may lead to dysfunctional voiding and incomplete bladder emptying. Our study was limited by the relatively small population, the subjectiveness of the self-reporting questionnaire, and the voiding and defecation habits of the investigated children during school hours. These hours do not necessarily reflect the children's habits after school hours and during the weekends. Despite these limitations, the discussed issues regarding personal hygiene and the environmental conditions in the sampled primary schools are extremely important. Conclusion: Nearly half of the school children had negative perceptions of school toilets. This should raise awareness and concern for school staff to consider and investigate potential facilities improvement in light of the impact observed here. Implementation of appropriate education and a better environment of toilet facilities and security is important for the children's well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)721-727
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pediatric Urology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Children
  • Personal hygiene
  • Primary school
  • Toilet


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