A Question About the Toilet Down the Hall

Hi Folks! Here’s a question about bathroom break protocol at a Sunday School. Weigh in! — L

Dear Free-Range Kids: What got me interested in this movement is a conversation I had at church just over a week ago. I’m my church’s Health and Safety Officer, but we also have a Child Protection Officer who is also Churchwarden.  She approached me just before the service and asked my opinion on what age a child should be allowed to go to the toilet unaccompanied.

I should explain the toilet is in a room adjoining the church which connects with the school and has a door opening onto the school yard. This is left open so the Sunday School students can go into the school hall and return to the church later. The Churchwarden seemed to be worried that a stranger might climb over the fence into the yard and attack a child using the toilet.

She was called away by someone and the service started a minute later so I didn’t get a chance to reply, but the question lingered with me. Talking to her later, I suggested a cutoff age of 12. I actually thought younger would be fine, but felt that that would probably cause outrage, knowing how paranoid people can be about child safety. To my absolute astonishment she said others had convinced her it should be 14, as this was the legal age children could be left on their own in the UK!

I have since found out that is untrue — there is no proscribed legal age its up to the judgment of the parents.

I didn’t press the issue then but I have been researching it and that’s what led me to this website. I must say it’s one of the most heartening things I’ve ever come across. I work in a secondary school as a science technician and I’ve often felt sad at how restricted children are compared to when I was growing up.

But, back to the church issue. I’m sure she’ll bring it up at the next Church Council meeting, but I intend to fight a cutoff age of 14. Just what sort of society are we creating if a young person of 12 or 13 can’t be allowed the dignity of going to the loo on their own in broad daylight?

I agree! And I’d set the age a lot younger. I actually think first graders can get themselves to and from the bathroom on their own. Didn’t most of us? I sure did. And after reading (in the comments on the post below this one) about the 4 and 5-year-olds using machetes elsewhere in the world, I have a feeling we First World denizens REALLY underestimate what our kids of capable of.

What’s more, the idea that some miscreant is going to scale a fence in the  hopes of maybe finding a kid in the bathroom on the other side is bizarre in its unlikeliness. If I were a thug, I’d certainly prefer committing a crime that did not require me to start by climbing.

The whole situation sounds safe and simple, and let’s not forget it! — L

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