Big Boys in the Little Girls Room: The Never-Ending Controversy

Everyone else has posted about this Oklahoma City bathroom sign, so I guess it’s time for me to weigh in, too: Are 6-year-old boys too old to be dragged into the ladies room?

Oklahoma City Moms blog, via Facebook

Source: Oklahoma City Moms blog, via Facebook

I don’t come down hard and fast because of course there can always be extenuating circumstances — a boy with special needs, for instance — and also, I just don’t think there are hard and fast rules for most things. That being said, I also think it is just fine for any boy out of diapers to use the men’s room. And while rummaging through a bunch of old columns of mine the other day, here’s one I wrote for the New York Daily News in 2002 — long before I let my 9 year old ride the subway alone:

Should you report me to the authorities?

I let my 4-year-old walk downstairs to his friend’s apartment, alone. I let my 6-year-old out of my sight on the playground. I let both boys go into public bathrooms by themselves, rather than dragging them into the ladies’ room. Moreover, I firmly believe that anyone who finds me lax is in the grips of mass hysteria and needs deprogramming, pronto.

It was fun to read my nascent Free-Range self. Less fun was finding that the controversy continues to this day. Here are some typical comments that ran beneath a Babble story on the Oklahoma sign controversy:

*A six year old boy in a men’s bathroom by himself in a mall??? I don’t think so.

*The way our world is today, no way would I send my child alone into a restroom!!!!!

*What do you suppose will happen in the 3 minutes he’s in there?

*In those 3 mins, they could be molested or even killed. Who’s to say there’s not a child predator in there waiting to touch your child or some sadistic person that decides they want to kill for fun. Been in the news in the past.

And so, in 2015 as in 2002, I find myself saying the same thing: Perspective, please! A few years ago I wrote again about boys in the little girls’ room for the New York Post, filling in more facts. (Oddly, the archive has the date of this story wrong by a decade.) Anyway, voila the relevant part:

Amy Baxter is a pediatrician who did her fellowship in child sexual abuse. She estimates she has seen about 500 victims, which is very sad. But how many of them were violated in a public restroom? “None,” she says. Dr. Baxter queried two close colleagues and found that one of them had indeed seen an instance of this crime. Terrible. Another — a leader in the field — had not. Ever.

So it’s not that bathrooms are 100% safe. Nothing is. But since most child sex abuse is perpetrated by someone the child knows, the worst-case restroom scenario is rare indeed.

Apparently when you’ve got guys and germs around pants-less kids, rationality goes the same place everything else in that room is going. – L.

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130 Responses to Big Boys in the Little Girls Room: The Never-Ending Controversy

  1. deltaflute March 16, 2015 at 8:35 am #

    My five year old generally speaking goes to the bathroom by himself. That said, he has a broken arm so for the sake of his privacy and his inability to operate well with one arm, I help him these days. We use the family bathroom if we can. I also take my 3 year old with me but that’s because he’s potty training and given his demeanor he’s more likely to play in the bathroom (including diving under the stalls :/ I can’t wait until the older one’s arm is healed and the other matures a bit more. It’s a chore taking children into the bathroom. I have no idea why people want to burden themselves like that.

  2. Christina March 16, 2015 at 8:55 am #

    I live in Chicago, and have been sending my boys to the men’s room since they were 4. Never a problem. Outside of Chicago, you would think I was child trafficking. I have been verbally assaulted for letting my kids go to the bathroom TOGETHER while I filled up the car. My go to response now is to just say “‘Ransom of Red Chief’ – read it”.

  3. Crystal March 16, 2015 at 9:15 am #

    I’ve let my son go in the men’s room since he was 4. And yes, complete strangers have given me crap about it. Interestingly, they are never men. In fact, it’s been men who have HELPED, like when I asked one coming out, “Hey, can you tell that little boy to hurry it up a little?” when I could hear my son playing with the water.

  4. Jrabach March 16, 2015 at 9:29 am #

    When my twin boys were 6 or 7, we were members of a local YMCA. After swim, I sent them to the men’s locker room to change, alone. An employee once came up to me and said that the club (unwritten) guidelines stated that they were too young to be alone, and they they had to be with a parent. I politely indicated that as a woman, my presence in the men’s locker room would be inappropriate (!), and I preferred them to be there instead of in the ladies locker room. He said that ‘we wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to them’ and I replied that there were plenty of nice men who belong to this club who would help. He eventually gave up on convincing me they were in harm’s way. Over the term of the class, several men saw me waiting outside the locker room and told me how funny my kids were, how they helped one of them reach the sink, or report that the boys were tearing around naked and that if I was in a hurry, I was out of luck 🙂 Good times!

  5. Sara March 16, 2015 at 9:36 am #

    I replied to this on one site and got so much flack. I feel that Boys should be using the men’s washroom and girls should be using the female washroom. I raised the point about what if it was a sign on the men’s washroom about girls using. I had comments saying that’s not the point and that dads shouldn’t be taking their in there because of rape and that men will be looking at little girls.

    This double standard bugs me. My husband went to the family washroom with my 3 year old daughter and when he came out, there was a lady waiting for him. She told him that he was a pedophile and that the family washroom is for families. He said that our child was his daughter and therefore they were family. She had called security on him. Thankfully, he knew the security guard and he kept calm. It’s to the point that my husband hates taking our daughters out just in case they have to pee.( they are 3 and 7 months old).

  6. Richard March 16, 2015 at 9:37 am #

    My daughter’s been using public bathrooms by herself since she was around 4 also.

    Posts like this make me wonder too – ignoring the sexism for a moment since that’s well covered – if there really was a brutal serial killer lurking in a public restroom just waiting to kill people (something that would make international news its so unlikely, I should point out), just how likely are they to run away from adding to their kill list because a Mom is around? I mean, in all honestly, if there’s a homicidal psychopath trying to kill you and your family in the bathroom, they’ll probably manage it.

    Attitudes like these are why we can’t have nice things.

  7. Richard March 16, 2015 at 9:41 am #

    @Sara, I’m sure that the interfering busybody would be first in line to wonder loudly why more dads aren’t involved with their kids too while shaking her head. See also: dads “babysitting” at the park.

  8. ChicagoDad March 16, 2015 at 9:51 am #

    (1) Age-appropriate independence helps build the types of social intelligence and confidence that helps kids avoid abusive situations. In the literature on child health and abuse, confidence & good social skills are identified as preventative factors for abuse, while social isolation and antisocial peer relationships are among the risk factors for abuse. Bathrooms are a good place to practice independent activities and independent social development: only one exit, specific tasks to complete by oneself, usually takes less than 5 minutes.
    (2) The protocol that 6+yos use restrooms for their own gender are in place for adults, teens, and older kids to feel comfortable using the facilities; not to tell moms how to raise their kids. Parents who behave otherwise are being inconsiderate to others in the restroom.
    (3) By about kindergarten, most kids start doing a lot of sorting and identifying by gender. Many 5 & 6 year olds start finding it uncomfortable to use a bathroom for a different gender.

    The helicopter parent who brings their 9yo boy into the women’s room says something like, “It’s not worth the risk, and it doesn’t do any harm.” BUT, there is practically no risk, and it causes harm: it is rude to other bathroom users, stunts kids’ development, and embarrass the children. When were the patients given the keys to the ward? Arghhh.

  9. tz March 16, 2015 at 9:52 am #

    Just use the room of your “choice”

    http://www.mlive.com/news/saginaw/index.ssf/2015/03/midland_lawmaker_planet_fitnes.html

  10. Beezuss March 16, 2015 at 9:56 am #

    OMG. Seriously. I also responded to this when it came up in another group and was met with 100% insanity including such statements as “I’m afraid of Super Predators!” and “What about all those pedophiles in the Men’s room!” Two things:
    #1 My 4 y/o son is physically capable of doing everything he needs to in an adult sized bathroom alone, including holler if there is an issue… the only issue having ever come up? “Mom! There is no Toilet Paper in here!!!”
    #2 This is insanely sexist. When this topic came up in my local Mom’s group and I asked them to flip the concept and speak to having their 7, 8, 9 y/o DAUGHTER taken by DAD into the Mens room for safety (the same reason they would take their 7,8,9 y/o boys into the Ladies Room) the Mom’s lost their collective minds and said that too was “dangerous, dirty, crazy” and that Dad should: A-take the daughter home, B-ask another women to take her to the Ladies Room, C-why would the Dad be alone with the daughter anyway. UH, what? Are they stereotyping their husbands? Sending their daughters with strangers (other ladies) to the bathroom?
    Seriously people have lost their minds.

    When able to use the facilities by themselves, all children should do so in the available bathroom. My biggest concern as a parent? …Did you wash your hands?

  11. Powers March 16, 2015 at 9:57 am #

    Completely different, tz. There’s no reason to bring transgender issues into this.

  12. Amy H March 16, 2015 at 10:02 am #

    Ugh! I got into a “discussion” on Facebook when someone posted this last week. People kept talking about taking their sons into the women’s room when they were 8, 10, or even 12! I said I’d be uncomfortable with a 10 year old in the women’s room, and two different people asked me what I was doing in there that would make me uncomfortable, like I’m the problem. Like a twelve year old in the women’s room is normal.

    The last exchange went like this:

    Other Mom: 14 yrs ago, a 9 yr old got grabbed in a men’s room, duct taped, penis excised and throat cut, he did live, man got away…at a mall with mom waiting outside the entrance

    Me: That’s horrible, but should we all live like that’s the norm? Sooner or later kids have to learn how to recognize and deal with creeps. We can’t prevent every horrible thing, and by coddling kids into their teens we’re actually making more easy targets for awful people.

  13. lollipoplover March 16, 2015 at 10:38 am #

    “In those 3 mins, they could be molested or even killed.”

    You could also be conditioning them to fear public bathrooms and instilling anxiety in healthy children for those 3 minutes.

    At 6, my son ASKED to use the men’s room. He got his business done much faster and no lines (unlike women who took much longer). Independent toileting is a developmental milestone that we should all encourage our kids to achieve. This fear of restroom abuse needs a DSM code as a mental disorder.

    Our neighbor NEVER let her son go to the restroom *alone*. She was adamant about takingher children to the restroom with her because of this fear of them being molested or harmed. When he entered elementary school, he wouldn’t use the bathrooms. He held it in (and had a few accidents) and developed anal fissures from refusing to poop in a public restroom and had all sorts of health issues with this.

    Sorry, I’ll risk my son not washing his hands over ass surgery any day.

  14. ARM March 16, 2015 at 10:41 am #

    My son is 3 and still needs help (currently he strenuously resists learning to dress/undress himself), but I’m inspired by those here whose 4-year-olds already manage on my own. I have no worries about lurking pedophiles, but I’m a bit daunted by the prospect of teaching my son to use a public toilet without an undue amount of close contact with the mess left behind by previous users, especially given how short he still is. But I guess it’s high time to start the training program!

  15. Michelle March 16, 2015 at 11:09 am #

    My older sons started using the men’s room as soon as I could trust them not to cause trouble or play in the toilet. The younger ones started as soon as they were completely potty-trained, taking an older brother along to keep them out of trouble. Far from taking an 8yo boy into the ladies’ room, I was putting him in charge of taking his 4yo brother to the men’s room.

    I do feel a small twinge of worry about pedophiles, but I know it’s ridiculous. The chances that such a person will JUST HAPPEN to be in the exact same bathroom as my son, at the same time, with no one else around, and will be brazen enough to commit such a crime with a totally unknown child (who may scream or fight or do any number of unpredictable things), in a public place where anyone may suddenly come upon them, and with mom standing right outside waiting for the child to come out?? It’s not impossible, but it’s so far-fetched that I really can’t worry about it. I’m more concerned with making sure my kids remember to behave themselves, not make a mess, flush and wash their hands, and don’t get lost walking to or from the bathroom — all concerns that I can address by teaching them well.

    The one thing that really bugs me is that so few public bathroom sinks are accessible for small children. Whether I’m sending my son into the men’s room alone, or just too pregnant / already holding a baby and can’t lift a 4yo to wash hands, an unreachable sink is a huge PITA.

  16. Michelle March 16, 2015 at 11:26 am #

    “Ugh! I got into a “discussion” on Facebook when someone posted this last week. People kept talking about taking their sons into the women’s room when they were 8, 10, or even 12! I said I’d be uncomfortable with a 10 year old in the women’s room, and two different people asked me what I was doing in there that would make me uncomfortable, like I’m the problem. Like a twelve year old in the women’s room is normal.”

    How completely disingenuous of them. So, if they object to me bringing my 16yo son into the bathroom, that would be because *they* have some kind of problem?

    Heck, why even have segregated bathrooms at all? Make them all co-ed, so we can bring our husbands in to guard us from rape while we tinkle.

  17. pentamom March 16, 2015 at 11:34 am #

    Jrabach, in all the discussions we’ve had on this, I never thought of something your post brought up.

    In a private setting, like a Y, if someone says that your kid is not safe in the men’s room, they are suggesting that *they are operating a health club full of pedophiles.* My kids are all past the age that I’d have to worry about this anywhere, but if I ever have gradnkids and it comes up, I’m using this one. “Oh? You mean you let pedophiles into this club?”

  18. pentamom March 16, 2015 at 11:36 am #

    “How completely disingenuous of them. So, if they object to me bringing my 16yo son into the bathroom, that would be because *they* have some kind of problem?”

    Heads I win, tails you lose.

  19. JKP March 16, 2015 at 11:39 am #

    The linked babble article has a poll “Do you think a 6 year boy is too old to use the women’s restroom?” I answered the poll and discovered that 96% of pollers thought No, while only 4% thought Yes. I expected opinions to be more split 50/50.

    Aside from special needs children, at 6 years old, most children are attending school, and one of the basic requirements for starting school is being able to use the restroom alone. The teacher can’t stop and help every child in the bathroom during school.

    So if they are already fully capable of using the restroom alone at school, then the only reason mom would need to chaperone a little boy into the restroom is paranoia about perverts/killers.

  20. Jim Collins March 16, 2015 at 11:51 am #

    I think that the days of separate bathrooms for Men and Women are about over. A local store just remodeled and they did away with them. They just have three restrooms that anybody can use. There is a sign reminding people to lock the door so that no one barges in on them and that’s it. I think it is a smart idea. This would also solve the transgender issues that are popping up more and more these days.

  21. Rebecca March 16, 2015 at 11:55 am #

    As soon as they are able to undress/dress, wash hands etc – I am not worried that some devious person is going to do something to mine I am more worried about them playing up making a nuisance of themselves grrr to many times I have been waiting patiently when some poor guy comes out asking does the blonde kid belong to you? he is playing around with the water lmao.

    The only story I can remember reading about was a boy being killed in a rest room in a camping ground? I think about 20 years ago so really the odds of a devious person being in the rest room at that particular time waiting for one of mine kids is about as much as me wining the lottery about zero!

  22. GCB March 16, 2015 at 12:18 pm #

    We see these signs at the rec centers in my area, and I don’t have a definitive answer. But the double standard drives me crazy!

    On the one hand, a six-year-old boy is in stranger-danger for walking to the park with an older sibling, riding his bike alone to school, or waiting in the car for five minutes on a mild-weather day. But suddenly all of these dangers cease to exist when he goes into a men’s locker room alone? Kidnappers could grab him while you’re not looking, crack dealers may see him as virgin blood, and who knows what perverts are lurking in there? As a free-range parent, I say all of this in jest to convey that parents just . . . . can’t . . . . win!

    Also, have you noticed how our culture’s many fears compete with one another? Which are we more afraid of? Perverted six-year-olds in the women’s locker room, or perverts preying on six-year-olds in the men’s locker room?

    Sometimes I feel like the only one who calls out all of this selective squeamishness.

  23. BL March 16, 2015 at 12:21 pm #

    @Jim Collins
    “I think that the days of separate bathrooms for Men and Women are about over”

    Or do away with restrooms. We can all wear diapers.

  24. Maggie in VA March 16, 2015 at 12:33 pm #

    My nearly 5-yo twin boys are desperate for me to allow them to go to the men’s room by themselves. But my reluctance has little to do with fear of sexual molestation. They just want to get in somewhere to explore stuff away from my prying eyes. They still routinely pull vast streams of toilet paper off the roll, and don’t always get it in the toilet, or worse, put yards of it in the toilet. And no annoying mom to make sure they wash their hands! So far, almost every woman has been understanding of my bringing them in the ladies’ room. I really hope that by six, I can send them into the men’s room by themselves, but it still feels like a major act of faith from here.

    Please, more family bathrooms so we don’t have to worry about this so much.

  25. Andrea March 16, 2015 at 12:36 pm #

    “In those 3 mins, they could be molested or even killed. Who’s to say there’s not a child predator in there waiting to touch your child or some sadistic person that decides they want to kill for fun.”

    Um, why would anyone kill at child in a restroom? Seems to me that’s a terrible place to do it, because there is only one exit, so you would have too many witnesses. If someone wanted to randomly kill a kid, I would think the last place they would do it would be in a public restroom.

    It’s like people have decided that logic doesn’t matter anymore.

  26. SteveS March 16, 2015 at 12:42 pm #

    I worked as a family therapist for about 10 years and saw hundreds of kids that had been molested. While I realize that the plural of anecdote is not data, I never saw a single child that was molested by a stranger in a bathroom. I know that it occasionally happens, but it is rare enough that I haven’t heard of any cases in a very long time.

  27. K March 16, 2015 at 12:44 pm #

    We belong to the Y, and the one location has a firm rule– no one under 18 in the adult locker rooms. This location also has several family locker rooms (basically an oversized room with a locking door, sink, toilet and shower), and locker rooms for boys under 18 and girls under 18. My boy, currently 10 1/2, has been using the bathroom in public places by himself since he was 5. He decided within the last couple of years that being in the family room with his sister and mother was too embarrassing for words, and now uses the boys room. Or the men’s room at the location that doesn’t have all those separate areas. Other than some giggling about a man in the men’s room with lots of pubic hair, there have been no problems.

    My daughter has been going since about 6, and the only problem was a couple of bathrooms where she couldn’t reach the soap or the faucets.

    Last year, both kids went to the bathroom alone at a crowded stadium venue (major league baseball for my son and minor league for the girl) and being able to locate the bathroom and then make it back to their seats was hugely empowering. People who insist on taking preteens into the opposite gender bathroom are ridiculous.

  28. lollipoplover March 16, 2015 at 12:50 pm #

    From the Babble article:
    “Most of our kids have appropriate comfort levels regarding public places that, as parents, we have nurtured. We don’t want our kids to go running off without us. We don’t want them to talk to or be in a position to interact with strangers. At nearly 6, W clearly knows he is not ready to go to a public restroom without me.”

    Part of parenting is promoting self-sufficiency, independence, and socialization.
    If you condition your child never to interact with strangers and only rely on YOU, that is not *nurturing*. It’s controlling.

    Every child is different developmentally. But the tone of this article is more about exerting control over a child, irregardless of where they are at with their emotional maturity, to rely on mom and never go into a public restroom. It’s the Supermom syndrome. Stay by my side, always, to feel safe. You can’t be trusted to pee in a urinal without me.

    My son would have been humiliated if I dragged him in the women’s restroom. He could handle a simple, everyday bodily function without me and I am glad I didn’t let paranoia and irrational thoughts control him.
    Does anyone ever bother to ask THE CHILD which room they prefer? I bet a lot of little boys would love to opt out of being treated like incompetent babies.

  29. Pophouse March 16, 2015 at 12:51 pm #

    I have been sending my six year old twin girls into the bathrooms by themselves since they were four. It is all so silly the amount of thinking we put into these weird situations. Yup, sometimes you gotta wait a while for their little imaginations to realize that they need to come out of the restroom. And they might have forgotten to wash their hands a couple of times.

    Those are some seriously crazy comments Lenore, good find.

  30. Donna March 16, 2015 at 12:56 pm #

    I wonder how much this anti-man craze of late will affect parenthood in future generations in general and men’s view of themselves in particular. It really seems that the mother of these boys fail to understand that those boys will one day be men and they will be men who have been told their whole lives that all men are, at worst suspect and potential child molesters/serial killers, and at best would ignore a child being molested or murdered in the bathroom in their presence.

    I also find it interesting that many of the comments were something along the lines of “well maybe at a bathroom in a restaurant, but not a crowded stadium.” Where would logic tell you that a child is more likely to be molested? A crazy-busy bathroom at the Super Bowl or a quiet bathroom in a restaurant? I’m not saying either one is remotely likely, but I think most would agree that it is even less likely to happen than the already remote possibility with every urinal full and a line out the door than if a boy a child molester just happened to find themselves in a restaurant bathroom alone. It just shows the total lack of logical thinking in their fear.

    “The only story I can remember reading about was a boy being killed in a rest room in a camping ground? I think about 20 years ago so really the odds of a devious person being in the rest room at that particular time waiting for one of mine kids is about as much as me wining the lottery about zero!”

    Yes, Matthew Cecchi outside San Diego in 1998. I lived In San Diego at the time. The killer entered the bathroom after the boy specifically to kill him and wasn’t hanging around waiting for random prey to come into his bathroom lair. He also stabbed an adult woman in LA the next day so likely would have tried to kill the aunt if she had gone in too. He also probably would have killed this same boy at a different opportunity had he never gone to the bathroom. The bathroom was completely incidental to the story – it was just the first chance he had to kill the child he wanted to kill – but that is all people remember. It was really just a story of a psychotic man who happened to kill a child in the bathroom and not that bathrooms are where psychotic killers like to hang out.

  31. KV March 16, 2015 at 12:57 pm #

    Last time I checked, every public bathroom had only one way out. I assume Mom would be standing outside the mens bathroom door waiting for child to come out. Any person stupid enough to try to do anything towards a child in a public bathroom is going to be caught on his way out after the child has come out, or – if he comes out ahead of child – going to at least be identifiable once child reports what happened.

  32. Jenna K. March 16, 2015 at 1:00 pm #

    I went over and read what the Facebook commenters were saying and they all were horrified by the sign. Apparently, though, the siqn was not authorized by the mall and it was taken down. However, the ones that repulsed me were the ones saying they make their boys, ones even older than 8 or 9, go in the women’s restroom with them if they need to go rather than making them wait outside because they are so fearful something will happen to them. I don’t understand how they can’t see that doing that victimizes their own child. By that age, boys are used to going to the boys room at school, so how can they feel comfortable being dragged into the public ladies’ room at the mall? My boys would be horrified if I made them do that. Those poor kids who are dragged into the wrong bathroom by their parents!

  33. k March 16, 2015 at 1:07 pm #

    Donna, I wonder if the concerns about the stadiums is less about perverts and more about the child getting lost. I just tell mine, I’ll meet you here (predetermined spot). Most of the time, my son is finished first and has to wait for me. Being able to not only use the bathroom, but find his way back to our section and seats was a big confidence booster for my kids.

  34. Reziac March 16, 2015 at 1:18 pm #

    I’m reminded of the pair of ~16 year old girls I overheard in the mall — calling mom to ask if it was okay to use the public restroom.

  35. Reziac March 16, 2015 at 1:27 pm #

    @Maggie in VA — my solution would be to find random adult males to accompany the twins into the bathroom, but do so on the sly (unless the kids need to be corrected or discouraged) — give the kids someone to emulate and some feeling that they might just have to act responsibly even if it’s not a family member giving them the Parental Eye.

    Seems to me if we did more of this trading responsibilities with other people, especially with strangers, there’d be less irrational fear as it’s demonstrated that sure enough, these strangers are just like us. They’re not suddenly transformed into molestors the moment they’re out of our sight, any more than our children are transformed into victims the moment they’re out from under our watchful eye.

    Also, consider whether being overly watchful is causing your kids to “act out” whenever they’re NOT under your stern parental gaze — because then they feel more free to “act like kids” and do so to excess. Especially consider this if it seems to be a regular thing every time they’re out of sight.

  36. John March 16, 2015 at 1:27 pm #

    When I belonged to the YMCA years ago (before they instituted all these multiple locker rooms) one of the other guys in the weight room would bring his 6-year-old daughter with him to his workout. Perhaps he couldn’t find a babysitter. But he would also bring her with him into the men’s dressing room and I personally felt very uncomfortable being nude in front of a 6-year-old girl so I’d cover up more as I walked to the shower if she was in there. Now I would not have any problems if it were a 6-year-old boy because basically he’d have the same equipment I have albeit not as developed. But a 6-year-old girl looking at my penis?? NO, I would NOT like that! I guess it’s just how I was raised growing up in the 1960s.

  37. Krissy M March 16, 2015 at 1:37 pm #

    I also don’t understand how one-sided this is. My husband regularly takes my 7-year old daughter places, and would never even dream of taking her into the men’s room if she had to use the bathroom. Why is it ok for her to go into the women’s room alone, but not ok for a boy the same age to use the men’s room?

  38. Suzanne Lucas March 16, 2015 at 1:44 pm #

    My 6 year old son uses the restroom by himself, but I still bring him into the women’s locker room to change for swim lessons. Why? Because he is the world’s slowest slow poke and he dislikes swimming lessons, so I know I sent him into the men’s dressing room, he’d take 45 minutes to change his clothes and miss his lesson.

    The pool has a “women only” section in the locker room, and a “moms and kids section” (I presume the men’s locker room has the same set up, but I’ve never asked.

  39. Sarah March 16, 2015 at 1:52 pm #

    I started letting my son go to the restroom by himself when he was 5. The biggest problem was the sinks, which, as others have mentioned, were almost always too high. He didn’t want to come into the ladies’ with me to wash, so I coached him how to politely ask an adult (yikes! talking to strangers? MALE ones?!?) to lift him up. Actually, it got him to be better about washing his hands 🙂

    It was also good practice for our family “stranger” policy: you can talk to anyone, especially if you approach them, you just can’t go anywhere with them.

  40. lollipoplover March 16, 2015 at 1:59 pm #

    @Reziac-when my son was 5, his best friend (who was 6) needed to use our bathroom. He called me in “I need some help here!”
    I was baffled when he motioned down for me to wipe him after he pooped. Showed him proper wiping skills and where the toilet paper roll was. I later told his mom, as an FYI that it’s an important skill she needs to teach him to do on his own. She was very concerned with “skid marks” and felt wiping him herself (at age 6) was helping him. But she agreed it was time to teach herself out of this part of parenting, something I was so grateful to be done with.

    I see him now as a cool-guy teenager and want to remind him of the time he asked me to wipe his ass.

  41. k March 16, 2015 at 2:03 pm #

    Lollipoplover, that’s freaking disgusting. I insisted mine learn to wipe as soon as they potty trained (around 3 for both). A woman at preschool said her son was 5 and hadn’t learned to do it, until he was being watched by teenage cousins for a day and they refused to wipe his butt for him.

  42. Nicole March 16, 2015 at 2:19 pm #

    The best part of all of this is that when some perverted guy gets apprehended for molesting children and everyone is asking how someone grows up to be so evil, can’t you just see the knowing nods when it’s explained that his mother used to force him to use the ladies bathroom until he was 12? Of course, we all think, no wonder he’s messed up.

    My rule of thumb for kids is they can go to the bathroom alone when they are old enough to be fully potty trained, strong enough to open the door by themselves (a challenge in some stores), tall enough to reach the sink, soap, and towels, and mature enough not to flood the bathroom, crawl under the stalls, or otherwise make a nuisance of themselves.

  43. SOA March 16, 2015 at 2:34 pm #

    I got banned from Autism with a Side of Fries blog for daring to give my opinion about this issue and not agreeing with them that its okay for 10 year old boys with no special needs to be allowed in the men’s room alone.

  44. SOA March 16, 2015 at 2:35 pm #

    my post above should mean that I thought it was okay for 10 year old boys to be alone in men’s room if they can handle it and was jumped on by like 20 posters and then banned when I defended myself

  45. marie March 16, 2015 at 2:57 pm #

    Please, more family bathrooms so we don’t have to worry about this so much.

    But why the worry at all? The worst that can happen is that your boys don’t wash their hands. A stern look from you will probably send them back to the restroom to take care of that. Send them in one at a time if you think they will team up to get into mischief.

    What’s the harm in them exploring the restroom? Goodness knows they will spend plenty of time in public restrooms over their lifetimes; they may as well get it all figured out.

    Give it a try. They will love the added responsibility. When you tell them how to behave, give it to them in terms of what other people need from them. “Don’t leave toilet paper on the floor because the cleaning crew works hard enough.” “Wipe up any sprinkles on the seat/floor because the next man who comes in will not like stepping in that mess.” “Don’t use more than too much toilet paper or someone later in the day won’t get any.”

    Make it about more than Mommy’s rules. Make it about them being gentlemen.

  46. lollipoplover March 16, 2015 at 3:05 pm #

    @k-
    Yeah, I didn’t see a need to wipe my kids, I thought that was a part of potty training too.
    And I gave her the best piece of advise for moms of boys:
    Buy black underwear (and socks).

  47. pentamom March 16, 2015 at 3:08 pm #

    “Perverted six-year-olds in the women’s locker room, or perverts preying on six-year-olds in the men’s locker room? ”

    Who is worrying about “perverted six year olds” in the women’s locker room?

    The concern is not that the six year olds are perverted, it’s that women don’t want to undress in front of a boy over the age of a toddler. It has nothing to do with the child being “perverted” — it’s just most women’s sense of privacy that’s in play.

  48. Lolly March 16, 2015 at 3:13 pm #

    I’ve posted this before I think but my 6 year old son suffers from severe separation anxiety and has mild developmental delays. Over the past 6 months or so he has started using the men’s room by himself at places he’s really comfortable with (the Walmart we frequently shop at, the McDonald’s we eat at once or twice per month, etc) but still goes into the ladies room with me in less familiar places (an interstate rest area, the mall, some gas stations) and I’m fine with that right now. My daughter who turns 4 next week has recently started going into the stall by herself in public restrooms but often needs me to lift her up to the sink to wash her hands. If she were taller I would let her go into most restrooms by herself and she would have no problems doing so. Every child is different so I also won’t say there should be any specific rule for an age a child should no longer enter an opposite sex restroom, but I will say that I’m not fond of seeing boys around 8 or older in the women’s restroom unless they have obvious special needs where they need assistance from an adult. I do understand in extremely crowded places, such as at a sporting event or concert, being worried about your child getting lost in the crowd when they leave the restroom, or at a shady looking place in a higher crime part of town a parent wanting to keep a closer eye on their child, but in most situations I find the fear of a child above the age of 4 or 5 using a public restroom alone to border on ridiculous.

  49. Lolly March 16, 2015 at 3:26 pm #

    @Sara- My husband also has the fear of taking our girls (almost 4 and 2) in public restrooms so he rarely takes the girls out (we also have a 6 year old son who he obviously doesn’t have to worry about taking to the restroom) by himself for longer than 30 minutes. He feels like everytime he has to take one of our daughters into the men’s room to go potty or change a diaper (if there’s actually a changing table in the men’s room) he gets strange looks from women when he enters and leaves the restroom, as if he must be a child predator because of course no father is actually capable of taking their child to go potty or of changing a poopy diaper. Sometimes I wonder if these helicopter moms have helpless husbands/boyfriends/significant others because they often act like men are incapable of doing any child rearing (and I won’t start on household chores/cooking). They’re the same women who say they wouldn’t want their child to have a male preschool or elementary teacher. Seriously are all men predators now?

  50. Jessica March 16, 2015 at 3:36 pm #

    I was just thinking about this the other day when I used the restroom at Target and there was a boy in there who looked about 9 or 10 years old. I’m already uncomfortable when I see boys that age in the women’s room, but then I have to wonder if, based on the fact their mothers won’t let them wait outside, if they have enough social awareness not to be peeking through the doors or some such thing. To be fair, the kid looked just as uncomfortable being there as I did. My older son is 5 and I agree with many of the PPs: my main concern is that he always forgets to wash his hands, but he’ll go on his own.

  51. Earth Waratah March 16, 2015 at 3:59 pm #

    I never ever let any of my children to enter a public toilet of their own gender because I fear it may lead them down the sordid road of homosexuality.

  52. CrazyCatLady March 16, 2015 at 4:07 pm #

    Not sure if is is my state (WA) or Idaho or Oregon, but one of these states has signs on the bathroom doors on the interstate saying that helpers of the opposite gender are allowed in EACH restroom to help a person who cannot do what they need to do on their own.

    My boys have been using the appropriate bathroom since they were ages 4 and 3. Older one often takes hand washing seriously (too seriously) and I often had to send younger brother back in to get him. Younger brother has often had men say “honey, you are going into the wrong one!” because he has beautiful long hair. He sets them straight. He tells them he is a boy, and if they don’t get it, I am sure they do once he gets up to the urinal. (Yes, I actually have had people argue with me about my son being a girl. No, he is a boy, he has long hair like his dad. No, he is not going to donate his hair to “Locks of Love” “when” he gets it cut. He is not getting it cut, and frankly, you would never say that to a girl about her long hair!)

  53. Mandy March 16, 2015 at 4:16 pm #

    So while I agree that the commenters are being ridiculous and engaging in unnecessary fearmongering, I don’t care much for the restriction – mostly because I imagine it was put there on the basis of OMG OMG WHAT IF A 7 YEAR OLD BOY MOLESTS SOMEONE. I’d about guarantee there’s no corresponding sign on the men’s room telling girls over six not to come in. Projection much, people?

  54. E March 16, 2015 at 4:25 pm #

    I don’t even recall when I started letting my boys going into public restrooms, but it would probably depend on what the restroom was, I’ve seen some pretty nasty restrooms while traveling, lol. I’d be more concerned about them stepping in puddles, grabbing something nasty, etc., then any harm coming from strangers.

    But I’m surprised how many people get weirded out by seeing ‘older’ kids in their gender’s bathroom (restroom, not locker room). There are stalls in public bathrooms, who cares if they are waiting near the sinks? I mean, I understand noticing their presence, but what would make you uncomfortable?

  55. k March 16, 2015 at 4:42 pm #

    @E…

    If I’m in a stall, I don’t really care. But in the case of locker rooms, where people will be In various states of undress, I would be very uncomfortable dressing or undressing in front of someone else’s older kids.

    The hubs told me about a time he was in the process of changing after a workout and had taken off his shorts and underwear but not his shirt. A preteen girl came in and was trying to get into one of the lockers. Hubs said she kept huffing and had to do the combo 3 or 4 times before she got it open. He and I agreed that she was probably there with her father, wanted something out of the locker and he told her to go get it herself.

    My husband was extremely uncomfortable and he said he was almost terrified to move, you never know who is going to make some sort of accusation or freak out, despite the fact that this was the men’s locker room. I’m sure the girl was mortified too.

  56. Warren March 16, 2015 at 4:42 pm #

    Mandy and E,
    It is not about the boy being a pervert. But my daughters do not need to have a boy the same age as them in the ladies room. In our small area, it can very well be some boy from her class. Now since the boys do not use the girls room at school, they should not be using them in public either.

    Put it this way, if your kid, special needs aside, cannot handle using their own gender bathroom when out in public, past the age of 6, then leave em at home,

    I have had words with Mothers at mensrooms, that think they can keep men outside waiting until her snowflake is done and comes out. My eldest daughter called security on a 12 yr old boy in the ladies room, with his mom. Security escorted them from the property.

  57. CLamb March 16, 2015 at 4:49 pm #

    Put a sign on the mens’ room which says, “No pedophiles allowed.”. There, solved the problem.

  58. Havva March 16, 2015 at 4:59 pm #

    @Mandy,

    At the pool I go to the locker room doors, for both male and female locker rooms have signs much like this.

  59. Emily March 16, 2015 at 5:21 pm #

    Everyone pretty much took the words out of my mouth. I agree that kindergarten is a good cut-off age, because that’s the age that kids have to be able to use the bathroom independently, tie their own shoes, and at least attempt to dress themselves for gym class/swimming/playing in the snow (I’m Canadian, so “put on own snowsuit” is a major developmental milestone here). That’s also the age when gender differences really show–separate boys’ and girls’ bathrooms at school, boys and girls start wanting to play more with friends of the same sex, and “do gender” in other ways–for example, in their minds, the Barbie backpack is for girls, and the Spiderman backpack is for boys, et cetera. So, being forced to use the opposite-gender bathroom in public could really confuse a child’s self-concept. In kindergarten, they’re learning, for example, “My name is Jimmy. I’m a big kid, because I’m in Big School now. I can tie my own shoes. I’m a boy, and I use the boys’ bathroom, and I like Spiderman.” Meanwhile, their parents are telling them, “No, you can’t go by yourself, no, you’re not a big kid, no, I know you’re a boy, but you have to use the women’s bathroom with your mother, because pedophiles!!!” Schools are always promoting the idea of all the adults in a kid’s life forming a united front, but when it comes to this issue, that doesn’t happen.

  60. Papilio March 16, 2015 at 5:35 pm #

    About family bathrooms and sinks being too high: Is it some gigantic faux pas in America to just use the toilet for disabled people…?

  61. Warren March 16, 2015 at 5:41 pm #

    Pap,
    In most places the handicapped facility is just an oversized stall within the gender specific restroom.

  62. Renee Anne March 16, 2015 at 5:43 pm #

    I’ll admit that I take my four year old into the women’s bathroom but he goes in the stall himself and does his business by himself. I don’t like him in the men’s room because, honestly, they are significantly grosser than the women’s…which isn’t to any the women’s room is always the sight of perfect cleanliness but at least I dont have to worry about the pile of pee on the floor from women missing.

  63. Yocheved March 16, 2015 at 6:12 pm #

    You really want to see heads spin? Start talking about a single dad taking his daughter into the men’s room!

    Insanity will ensue, guaranteed.

  64. Dan March 16, 2015 at 6:18 pm #

    All men’s rooms are not created equally.

    The YMCA? Pool? Amusement Park? Sporting Event? Shopping Mall? No problem.

    The truckstop on the interstate? Well, even most men try avoid those.

    The bathroom I was not allowed to use by myself for the longest time growing up was the one at the beach. Why? Because creepy guys hung out there (1960s)

    And I’ve noticed that the restrooms to avoid growing up were “public” vs. privately owned.

  65. Warren March 16, 2015 at 6:37 pm #

    Now how does this work?

    Dad takes his 4 yr old daughter into the mens room past muliple urinal users, and that is okay.

    Same 4 yr old girl sees man peeing against a tree, and that man in on the sex offender registry.

  66. Gina March 16, 2015 at 6:41 pm #

    Unreachable sink and soap are the main reasons I still occasionally bring my short 7-year-old into the restroom with me. Mostly his older brother is in charge of making sure he can reach everything and pull open the door to get out, but sometimes I let him off the hook and take the younger one with me if we’re just washing hands. Why is everything built for tall people????

  67. Kim Kinzie March 16, 2015 at 6:49 pm #

    I saw your article earlier today and didn’t think much of it. My son is 8 and has been going into the men’s bathroom alone for over 2 years now. What’s the big deal? Then I got the Huffington Post version of this story (which was fairly objective) and made the mistake of reading the comments.

    It’s becoming quite clear to me that, if there’s ANY risk associated with some behavior, there are some parents who will choose risk avoidance at all costs. I get it. I totally do. If my son were molested in a bathroom, I’d never forgive myself. But it’s far more likely that he’ll be molested by a coach, a friend’s dad, a camp counselor, etc. As a former prosecutor who specialized in child abuse, i interviewed hundreds of young children who’d been molested. Not one – I repeat – not one was molested by a stranger. Mom’s boyfriend was the most popular perp, and i don’t see anyone telling a single mom she should never date.

    I’m sorry that life is risky. But our cushy american life is actually pretty safe, especially compared to the rest of the world. Let’s arm our kids with some life skills instead of making them paranoid to pee in a men’s room. Then go travel the world. When we return, I’m confident all this worry will seem pretty silly in a place w/no bombs, dictators, deadly diseases or famine.

  68. M. March 16, 2015 at 7:06 pm #

    I think both sides are ridiculous and either is fine for a 6 year old, personally. I feel like there’s unfounded predator hysteria around letting a 6 year old hit the men’s room alone when they’re perfectly capable by that age, but on the other side of it is there an insinuation that there is something untoward or sexual about a 7 year old going into the ladies room? Because that also seems absurd, especially given that women’s rooms typically have stalls so a kid wouldn’t get much if an eyeful anyway. I think a kid should go to the bathr9om alone whenever he’s ready or when he starts being embarrassed to go to the women’s bathroom…trying to regulate something like that is just silly.

  69. Jill March 16, 2015 at 7:13 pm #

    Once I was waiting in line to use the bathroom at a rest stop in Pennsylvania and a little girl in line in front of me looked me over and loudly told the woman with her that there was a MAN in line! Yep, it was me. I was bemused by this, but as I’m tall and broad-shouldered and had my hair pulled back in a ponytail I could see how she got that impression.
    I told her no, I was a woman. The little girl replied that sometimes men try to go into the women’s bathroom “to look at naked ladies.”
    Weird, as I’ve never yet seen a naked lady in a public restroom.

  70. Tealatwo March 16, 2015 at 7:29 pm #

    My son even goes in by himself at theme parks. The only time I bring him with me is if it’s a unisex facility or he feels uncomfortable going by himself. He’s six so at time he still wants to be babied 🙂

  71. Sia March 16, 2015 at 7:35 pm #

    I was pretty late using the bathroom on my own because special needs. I do remember coming out and my hands not being washed though. Of course, I was asked why and I pointed out I was too short to reach the sinks.

    Mum sent me back in after pointing that I was perfectly capable of reaching the sink that was designed for wheelchair users.

  72. Brooke March 16, 2015 at 7:45 pm #

    I have let my boys since they were 4 go into the bathroom by themselves because they wanted to. I was scared. But, after the first time happy I let them grow and go. My youngest, now 8, went into a restroom at a rest stop by himself and took a really long time. I actually started to worry. Ask “some dude” if he had seen a blond haired kid and he said “yes. he was having trouble with the reaching the paper towels. So I gave him a couple. He should be out soon.” Come to find out my son had to go “number 2” then “had trouble reaching the towels but some nice man helped him.” Yeah Free range no fear of nice people kids!!! Thanks for all the support !!!!

  73. SOA March 16, 2015 at 8:23 pm #

    E- I had one bad incidence where a 12 or 14 year old boy was peeping at me in a women’s room at a movie theater once. The mother had him and then his little brother looked to be about 8 or 9 in there. She was busy washing her hands and in the meantime the 14 year old was staring at me through the crack in the door and the stall wall. Some stall walls have a crack big enough that you can easily see through it. I know that not only was he looking at me because I saw him but I also made eye contact with him through the door while he was literally staring directly at me while I sat on the toilet. It made me very very uncomfortable.

    I did say something to the mother that if she was going to have them in there she needed to make sure they don’t stare at women through the door. She did not reply back and I left.

    Otherwise it would not have bothered me but when you are staring and peeping at me its not right. If I had exposed myself to him in another circumstance I would end up on the sex offender registry so I am probably right to feel a bit disturbed by the whole thing.

  74. SOA March 16, 2015 at 8:33 pm #

    Warren: special needs kids and disabled people have to go out in public too. Don’t be ridiculous. But if your male son has special needs and needs assistance in the restroom you need to keep an eye on him and make sure he does not peep at women through the doors or under the stalls. That is common sense.

  75. Sharon March 16, 2015 at 8:49 pm #

    A month ago I was paying for my groceries in a large supermarket when my three year decided she was going to use the bathroom (it was just across the isle from the line I was in). While I wondered what people thought, mostly I was happy and proud that she remembered to go and took initiative! We’ve been sending our 7 year old to the bathroom alone since she was 4 as well.

  76. Sonia March 16, 2015 at 8:56 pm #

    Sorry but in Australia we have several reported deaths in the past five years of children going into the bathroom alone – one most memorable one was an 8 yr old girl who was sadistically raped and murdered by a 19 year old man who was waiting in the disabled toilet while her brother & father went into the men’s room and then waited outside for her.

    Australia has 10th of the population in America, so I prefer to errr on the side of caution in most areas. When I was in primary (elementary) school in the late 70s we had a few incidents of encountering a man in a female public toilet but we were in a large group so they took off …

    I classify myself as a free range parent but there are some areas I still take caution, sorry

    🙁

  77. David in Arizona March 16, 2015 at 8:59 pm #

    The men’s restroom may be one of the safer places on the planet for a little boy – I have a pretty good idea what my fellow members of the Y-chromosome club would do to someone molesting a kid. So many slippery spots on the floor, near all those hard porcelain and steel fixtures…

  78. Kimberly March 16, 2015 at 9:04 pm #

    I got into a discussion on a FB page as well where I was lambasted for listening to statistics of all things. A few called me crazy for actually saying that fathers, uncles, and grandfathers are more likely to commit a crime against their child then a stranger — even though that has also been proven to be true.

    And to the commenters here that have posited the question “what if their kid was X-years old?” There were a few people who posted on the FB page that they don’t let their teenage sons use public bathrooms alone. (One woman had a 15 year old son).

  79. CrazyCatLady March 16, 2015 at 9:36 pm #

    We did, a few years ago, have problems with a perv following WOMEN (grown or older teen, not little kids) into the rest room at the library. 2 of the three called the cops when the guy came in, turned off the lights and made his way toward their stall, talking about what he would do to them. The 3rd, (the older teen) didn’t have a phone, so she pretended that she had one and made out like she was calling 911. All three times it scared him off. He stopped suddenly, police thought he got arrested for something else.

    If I ever have a old enough boy to be in the bathroom on his own staring at me, I think I will take the cue of Warren’s daughter, and get security involved. I don’t want my own kids watching me pee and poop. No reason for someone else’s kid to be doing that either.

  80. bmommyx2 March 16, 2015 at 9:46 pm #

    I think if they are ready it’s fine for the boys to go in the men’s room, but I don’t think there should be a hard & fast rule. Every child is different & parents know their children, also some places are busier than others & that is also a factor. Now I realize there are helicopter parents who “drag” their boys into the ladies room when they could used the men’s room. The other side is I have two boys who can tend to be fearful & don’t want to go by themselves, might not be able to reach the sink or open & close the the door by themselves (some of those doors are too heavy & they are not strong enough or tall enough to open them) at six some might still need help getting their pants on & off or with wiping. My boys 3 & 8 have gone by themselves or together & sometimes go with me. I never stop them if they want to go by themselves, but if they are not ready I don’t see the need to force it right now. It’s a process & takes time.

  81. Allison March 16, 2015 at 10:25 pm #

    My six year old son is visually impaired. In unfamiliar places, I bring him into the women’s restroom. Not because of fear but because he often needs help navigating a new bathroom. My oldest has been using public restrooms on his own probably since age 4.

  82. Sandi March 16, 2015 at 11:17 pm #

    When I read that sign, I thought it was awful, but not because of a boy being unsafe in the men’s restroom. That actually didn’t even cross my mind. I didn’t like it because some 6 yr olds aren’t ready to go into a public restroom by themselves, so why make up such rules? And what’s so awful about a 6 or 7 yr old boy in a ladies’ restroom? Are the women worried that they might be peeked at or something? My son chose when he was ready to use the men’s without me and even then, I was called in for “clean up duty” more than once. I would have preferred he had gone in with me since he still needed help sometimes. Let’s just leave it up to the parent and child, OK?

  83. joan wwst March 16, 2015 at 11:39 pm #

    I raised three boys and when they were school age I sent them into the men’s bathroom by themselves, I stood right outside the door and told them to yell if they needed help or there was a questionable situation going on…. having w mentally handicap men, o had a different approach … one check if bathroom was empty before taking client in … I always tried to use the men’s room always announce my presence …. in always pitch woman room was needed just dis the same

  84. Buffy March 16, 2015 at 11:49 pm #

    @Sonia, links please?

  85. ThunderLightning March 17, 2015 at 4:41 am #

    I’ve had times where I had to do the walk of shame as a teenager going into the men’s room because the woman’s bathroom was either too disgusting (ALL toilets had piss and blood on them. Ladies there’s FUCKING LINERS in that box in the stall, it’s not a tampon deposit) Or being cleaned. I didn’t really care because when I had to go, I had to freaking go and I didn’t give two shits who saw. A few times there was a few men when I was walking out but I just held my head up high and walked out after washing my hands. Didn’t see anything. Didn’t care.

    When I was a LOT younger of course, that was like being sentenced to death. My father once did try to make me use the men’s room. Once. I was stubborn and refused to go. Took me back to the table and his friend pointed out that I shouldn’t be in there in the first place. Said the words that would forever send my dad into a paternal PANIC: “She could’ve seen a dick.” And so my dad adopted the walking into the woman’s bathroom walk of shame. (I say walk of shame because it wounded his pride visibly but until I was six my folks didn’t want me going into public restrooms alone.) No one gave him trouble or thought he was a pervert. He was just a dad doing what a dad had to do.

  86. Donna March 17, 2015 at 7:41 am #

    Outside of special needs kids (even that should be largely limited to those with physical impairments), I actually don’t think this is a developmental issue that some children can’t achieve by 6. 6 is school age. Being able to go to the bathroom completely independently is a very basic school-readiness skill. A kindergarten teacher should not be tasked with pulling up pants, wiping butts or even leaving her class to accompany a child to the bathroom.

    As for doors and sinks, my very small for her age child has been going to bathrooms alone since age 4. I can’t remember the last time I had to open a door or lift her at the sink. Definitely well before 6. I admit that I don’t grill her about hand washing afterward so I have no idea whether she does it or not. I don’t consider a failure to wash hands a tragedy to be avoided at all costs. It is not ideal, but she will survive.

  87. Donna March 17, 2015 at 8:16 am #

    My objection to boys in the ladies’ room is partially societal. It is yet another infantizing of children. What used to be a basic rite of passage prior to starting school is now being stretched to abnormally old ages.

    It is partially a view that going to the bathroom is a private affair. I’ve never understood the female urge to go in groups. I would actually prefer that you not be there when I use the bathroom. I realize that I can’t keep other ladies out of the ladies’ room, but I don’t have to be happy or accepting of extraneous people who should be elsewhere hanging about.

  88. Emily March 17, 2015 at 8:31 am #

    >>Now how does this work?

    Dad takes his 4 yr old daughter into the mens room past muliple urinal users, and that is okay.

    Same 4 yr old girl sees man peeing against a tree, and that man in on the sex offender registry<<

    @Warren–I was thinking exactly the same thing. Really, how does that work?

  89. Donna March 17, 2015 at 8:36 am #

    Not to mention the lines. Lines at women’s bathrooms are bad enough. We now need to wait behind people who don’t belong there? No wonder the men’s lines are so short; half the users are in the women’s room.

  90. E March 17, 2015 at 9:00 am #

    @Donna — I don’t disagree with the idea that by certain ages, in a safe/clean bathroom (again I keep thinking about road trips we take) genders should go their separate ways. I was just curious about the comments about how it made people (the adults) uncomfortable. I mean sure, a 12 year old boy in a women’s bathroom certainly seems odd. I’m sure I’d let him know he was in the wrong place as a favor. But if I saw a younger elem school kid — I’d might notice and then go about my business.

    It just struck me a little like the reaction or fear people have about sending their kids into the bathroom alone. It seems reactionary but not really something to be uncomfortable about.

    @SOA — obviously if I felt someone was “peeping” that’s different than just their presence. But presuming that every opp gender kid is going to do that is presumptuous.

  91. Donna March 17, 2015 at 9:28 am #

    E – I have been in very few public bathrooms where it was impossible to see into the stall if you tried. I don’t think that I should have to even accept the potential risk that some bored elementary school age boy would do this. Despite there being no sexual overtones, I don’t have to accept that it happens.

    Again, it really just boils down to things I have to withstand by being a member of society and things that I do not. I don’t want ANYONE – male or female – looking through cracks in the door while I am peeing for no reason other than it is something I prefer to do in private. Unfortunately, I have to accept that girls who haven’t been taught proper bathroom etiquette will peer through cracks in the door and under stalls. Yes, it happens fairly regularly and I don’t find it acceptable, but short of saying something to the mother (which I have on occasion), I can’t keep other girls out of the ladies room. I shouldn’t have to deal with boys old enough to pee on their own doing it too. Not that I particularly think any sexual is going on, just that it is totally rude and not a class of people that I should have to tolerate rude behavior from in a ladies’ room.

  92. lollipoplover March 17, 2015 at 9:36 am #

    “I don’t consider a failure to wash hands a tragedy to be avoided at all costs. It is not ideal, but she will survive.”

    We have a More or Less family rule with regard to hand washing. Based on the cleanliness of the bathroom, do you think you will get more or less bacteria from the hand washing experience?

    Some sink areas are gross. They did a study on the hot spots for bacteria in a bathroom and they’re not on toilet seats like we so fear, but on the sink handles and the Push button to the hand dryer. So I always recommend assessing the situation…just like you don’t want them to go to use the stall with an obviously clogged toilet or one that is totally polluted.
    I usually have wet ones in my purse (I tend to spill things) and they can always clean their hands that way. So a pass at hand washing for a wet one can be a good use of execute function. Also passing on a bathroom due to uncleanliness and seeking out cleaner ones. Just like I wouldn’t use a crowded port-o-potty at the end of a hot summer day, there are bathrooms that should be avoided at all costs.

  93. pentamom March 17, 2015 at 9:40 am #

    Piggybacking on what Donna said — even if it is merely a cultural preference that we can’t establish by some iron-clad logic about why it must be that way, the fact of that matter is that until relatively recently, this just wasn’t an issue. Society got along just fine with school-age children going to their sex-appropriate bathrooms by themselves, the rate of the crimes against children was no higher in bathrooms than in the rest of the world, and the preference of the majority of society to do their business only around people of the same sex, was respected.

    There is nothing that has really changed that should affect that reality. Kids and adults in 2015 are not so different from previous eras that there is any *good* reason that older children now need to be in the opposite sex bathroom barring special circumstances.

  94. marie March 17, 2015 at 9:45 am #

    ThunderLightning wins for the comment that made me laugh the hardest.

  95. E March 17, 2015 at 10:20 am #

    Let me be clear, I’m not advocating that kids old enough to take care of their own business should be encouraged to go into the opp sex bathrooms with a parent at all. I’m totally on board that kids old enough to go to school should be able to handle all that.

    I’m just saying that the mere presence of an elem age kid in a bathroom doesn’t seem like something that makes me uncomfortable. I guess I just don’t get it.

    I think kids (and adults) look thru the cracks or under the door are doing so to see if the stall is empty aren’t they? Rude people are rude. If anyone is doing more than that, they are rude, regardless of gender or age.

    Maybe I’m just oblivious in public bathrooms and get in/out with relative ease most of the time.

  96. Donna March 17, 2015 at 10:27 am #

    Sonia – Yes, you will very occasionally run into stories where a child happens to encounter a criminal in a public bathroom. That does not make the bathroom a place criminals like to hang out or a place children are more likely to be attacked.

    The unfortunately reality of the world is that there are criminals who seize opportunities to do evil things and sometimes that involves children and on occasion that takes place in a public bathroom. It is rare, but it does happen; just like it happens EVERYWHERE. Find me a single place in the world (I mean general location like “public bathroom,” not a specific location) where nothing bad has ever occurred in history. Heck, narrow it down to a single general location where no child has ever been harmed. I guarantee that someone here will be able to find at least one story of a child being harmed there throughout time.

    This is not to say that stranger crimes against children are high. They aren’t; they are actually rare. It is to say that random incidents of violence happen and are not limited to certain specific places. If we stay away from every place where a bad act has been known to occur, we would have to have to lock ourselves in our houses and never leave, and even then you are not safe because home invasions do occur. If you insist that your child be supervised in every place that any child has ever been harmed, you need to supervise 24/7 without breaking to sleep, and that isn’t much of a life for you or your child.

    The great majority of us will make it through life without a random act of violence occurring to us, in or out of the public bathroom. Living as though random acts of violence are some likelihood unless you avoid certain places is ridiculous. They are called RANDOM acts of violence for a reason.

  97. Donna March 17, 2015 at 10:39 am #

    “Rude people are rude. If anyone is doing more than that, they are rude, regardless of gender or age.”

    That is absolutely true. But to exist in society, you have to be able to tolerate a certain level of rudeness because we cannot control other people’s behavior. We can call them out for being rude. We can leave their presence. We can’t make them not be rude.

    But there is a limit to that. I should not have to suffer the rudeness of people who are where they don’t belong and elementary school age boys don’t belong in the bathroom. I have to suffer the rudeness of any age girl in the ladies’ room. I probably have to suffer through the rudeness of any preschool age boy in the ladies room. I shouldn’t have to suffer the rudeness of school age boys, whatever that rudeness may potentially be.

    That said, I do think there are varying levels of comfort in this area. For example, I know people who happily use the bathroom with their spouse brushing his teeth at the sink and others who find such behavior totally unacceptable. Some people who are fine with their kids walking in and out and others who are not. Other people may view bathroom privacy different from you and be uncomfortable with opposite sex people in the bathroom. They are not wrong, just different and since there is absolutely no valid reason for “normal” school age boys to be in the ladies’ room, it is not something that they need to get over.

  98. Puzzled March 17, 2015 at 11:04 am #

    Wait, 12? 15? These people actually exist?

  99. Warren March 17, 2015 at 11:06 am #

    First SOA, learn to freaking read before you comment. What was it in my comment “special needs aside” that you did not or did not want to understand?

    E and all the others that seem to think because they don’t find having a school age boy in the room uncomfortable, that it is okay. I will again say, I don’t care what you like or don’t like. It is not about you. Who it is about is the girls in the room that are the same age, as the boys in the room. There is no way in hell you can tell me that is a comfortable situation.

    I also see a problem of overprotective parents clashing and major problems arising. What do you think is going to happen when a daughter comes out and tells dad there is a teenage boy in there looking at the girls? Some dads may call security, or some may go in and drag the guy out by his balls.

    Now for the people saying “Why 6 yrs old?”. Again as I and others have said, at 6 your kid is in school and required to go to the bathroom independantly. So that is the perfect cutoff age.

  100. Warren March 17, 2015 at 11:12 am #

    When and if you ever get into discussions of this nature with paraniod moms that fear the molestor and predator in the mens room, watch the fireworks when you ask them these two questions.

    1. Since you are afraid that all men are potential sex offenders, when did you confront your husband, father, uncle, brother and other adult men you know, about them being potential sex offenders?

    2. And when do you plan on informing your sons that they are likely to become a sex offender?

  101. E March 17, 2015 at 11:20 am #

    @Warren — you raise a good point about young girls the same age as boys who might be in the bathroom at same time. That’s certainly valid. Since it’s adults posting here, I just was surprised at the reaction (not the opinion that kids should go where their gender dictate — that I agree with.)

    I probably shouldn’t even chime in, because I haven’t really experienced any unusual circumstances as a female or as a Mom of 2 boys (who were young years ago).

    Basically in familiar places, I let them take care of their own business, and at gas stations I probably was more involved in what they might have encountered.

    After all this posting, I’m sure I’ll stumble on some bizarre bathroom situation in the near future!

  102. Donna March 17, 2015 at 11:27 am #

    I am much less bothered by people like E who really just don’t see what the big deal is since they have different levels of bathroom comfort than I am the many commenters on the original article who understand that there is discomfort for some but insist that their son’s “safety” trumps a female’s right to be comfortable in their own assigned bathroom.

  103. Emily March 17, 2015 at 11:47 am #

    >>Let me be clear, I’m not advocating that kids old enough to take care of their own business should be encouraged to go into the opp sex bathrooms with a parent at all. I’m totally on board that kids old enough to go to school should be able to handle all that.

    I’m just saying that the mere presence of an elem age kid in a bathroom doesn’t seem like something that makes me uncomfortable. I guess I just don’t get it.

    I think kids (and adults) look thru the cracks or under the door are doing so to see if the stall is empty aren’t they? Rude people are rude. If anyone is doing more than that, they are rude, regardless of gender or age.

    Maybe I’m just oblivious in public bathrooms and get in/out with relative ease most of the time.<<

    @E–It's not necessary to look into the cracks of bathroom stalls/changing stalls/fitting rooms in stores to see if there's someone in there. I was taught to check for feet, if the door didn't go all the way down to the floor. In the case of full doors, you leave the door open when you leave, so it's obvious that it's now vacant.

    As for able-bodied, developmentally typical older kids of the opposite sex in public bathrooms/changing rooms/whatever, it kind of bothers me sometimes, EVEN if the kids are behaving appropriately, and even if I'm not exposing anything. Maybe it's not reasonable for me to feel this way, but the way I see it, when parents do that, they're forcing their parenting methods on the general public. Let's say I'm in a mall bathroom, even if I'm just in there to wash my hands (because a lot of typical mall snacks are messy), and a mother brings her practically-pubescent son into the bathroom with her. Son looks embarrassed (because there are WOMEN in here, and he's a GUY, and what if he sees his teacher, or his crush, or his friend's sister, or…..), and meanwhile, Mom has that "don't even think about complaining" air about her, and it's just awkward. I know that sounds silly, but I just don't think "safety" is a good excuse to embarrass your child by infantilizing them, and forcing complete strangers to witness that moment, and even unwittingly participate in it. After all, Son would be much less embarrassed to be in the women's bathroom with his mother, if it wasn't full of other women, right?

    So, I think it'd be a lot simpler, and less uncomfortable, for EVERYONE involved, if people would just use the bathroom/locker room/fitting room/other gendered area, that matches with the gender they identify with (which may or may not happen to be the gender they were assigned to at birth), as soon as they're capable of doing so. For some people with special needs, this might happen later, or even not at all, but most people manage to achieve that milestone around kindergarten. I know that safety is important, but it can't be the only consideration–people also have to consider the child's development, and emotional and psychological well-being, as well as the comfort of the other people who inhabit the world along with them. Going back to my point about the child's development, I wonder if the mothers in the "I'll NEVER let my son use the men's bathroom" camp, or at least in the "not until he's 10/12/some other really late age" camp realize that a nine-year-old is halfway to college or university age, at which point he'll be unsupervised most of the time. So, looking at it that way, five minutes alone in a public bathroom seems fairly reasonable.

  104. E March 17, 2015 at 12:01 pm #

    @Emily — I don’t disagree with anything you wrote.

    I have also never been in a bathroom with a pre-pubescent boy, let alone a pubescent boy, and his mother.

  105. k March 17, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

    I just remembered an incident, I forget when it happened exactly, but it was before kids, so maybe 12 years ago. I would have been 24-ish. I was in a public bathroom dealing with my period, when a young boy, maybe 4, looked under the door to the stall at me. He caught me off guard, literally with my pants down, as it were, and my first reaction was to snap, get away! I could hear his mother outside at the sinks huffing and puffing, who would dare tell her child to “get away.” I wanted to tell her, lady, your kid is spying on me while I’m trying to change my tampon. Maybe you should teach him to respect closed doors!

    I’m not a shy person in terms of nudity, I have no problems with locker rooms or stripping down to get a Brazilian wax, but some things I like to do in private, and that extends to my family as well. Just because my husband and I are married, doesn’t mean I need to see him wiping his butt.

  106. tom March 17, 2015 at 3:36 pm #

    Should I be bringing my 8 year old daughter into the the men’s room?

  107. KV March 17, 2015 at 3:56 pm #

    Krissi – I suspect maybe there is a double standard (boys going into the men’s bathroom vs. girls going into the women’s bathroom) because the women’s bathroom consists exclusively of stalled toilets with privacy whereas the men’s bathroom is open with wall urinals and there is greater opportunity for a pervert to expose himself to a child or get aroused by the site of a child urinating next to him? It’s a disgusting thought but I think that explains why there is a double standard.

  108. KV March 17, 2015 at 4:32 pm #

    At this rate, before you know it, people are just going to stop cutting the umbilical cord…. “Here, my precious son, can you please hold this while Mommy gets the groceries?” :Hands him the umbilical cord;

  109. Warren March 17, 2015 at 5:08 pm #

    Moms have argued that just because they do it in the safety of their school, does not mean it is safe to do in the mall or wherever.

    Now we all know that the vast majority of crimes commited against kids are done by someone known to them, so would it not be far more dangerous for you kid to go to the bathroom in their school, than at the mall with strangers?

    The whole stranger danger has gotten way way way out of hand.

    Just for the record here are some common occurances when men come across a young lad in the restroom.
    We will get a handful of soap and give it to him, because it is just our of his reach.
    We will turn the water on and off for him, again a reach thing.
    We will hit the button on the hot air dryer for him.
    We will recognize the mom waiting for him, and let her know he is doing fine, and will not be much longer.
    And if we know the door is one of those heavy ones, we will wait and help him.

    Conservatively I would say I have done one or all of them a couple dozen times in the course of my life. And not once have I ever seen a boy being attacked.

  110. KV March 17, 2015 at 5:33 pm #

    If you are concerned that your child can’t reach the sink to wash his/her hands, then my suggestion is to be prepared and hand her a wet wipe when he/she comes out of the bathroom.

  111. SOA March 17, 2015 at 5:46 pm #

    My sons do fine in the men’s room most of the time. They are almost 8. I enjoy sending them into the men’s room so I don’t have to deal with them in the ladies. We do run into issues sometimes though. My super tall for his age son still sometimes cannot reach the sink or the soap dispenser or the paper towels.They really should put them lower. I am not okay with him not washing his hands. So if that is a problem and he can’t find someone to help him in the men’s room I am sending him into the ladies to wash his hands and I will help him.

    The other issue is my son with autism sometimes gets over stimulated in loud public bathrooms because of the hand dryers and flushing and he is scared of automatic flushing toilets. So sometimes he might have to come with me if he is having some issues and getting overwhelmed. But I still prefer to send him into the men’s because he loves urinals and so I try to let him go in there so he can use the urinal. His brother watches out for him and will come get me if he is running into trouble. Then he will have to come with me into the ladies.

    I really don’t worry about the molesting thing at all. I am more worried about the practicality of things like reaching the soap dispenser or them ending up in a stall with no tp or something like that.

  112. Warren March 17, 2015 at 5:59 pm #

    LOL, the whole washing the hands thing reminded me of the Navy Seal and Army Ranger in the mensroom. They both did their thing, and the Ranger went to walk out. The Seal called to him, “In the navy they teach us to wash our hands.”. The Ranger laughed at him, “In the army they teach us not to piss on our hands.

  113. Floyd Stearns March 18, 2015 at 1:55 pm #

    When I was a kid (perhaps age 6 or 7), my Mom would take me into Buffalo and Rochester on shopping trips. There was never any fuss about me using the Men’s rooms in the stores or the bus/train stations…this was back in the 40’s when we had to take the daily bus or train from my hometown (Warsaw, NY) into these cities. It was just the way it was and there were never any problems. I find it hard to believe it would be any different today.

    Now, on the other hand:
    A few years ago when I was in my late 50’s, I accidently walked into the Ladies room at a local McDonalds. Fortunately, it was mid-morning and the room was empty. As soon as I realized my error, I thought, “please, let me just get out of here with out being noticed and OMG, what if a little girl comes in?”
    Well, I was lucky…nobody came in and I got out without being noticed.
    Needless to say, I’ve been a lot more careful since then!

  114. craig March 18, 2015 at 3:51 pm #

    The biggest danger of boys alone in the men’s room? Touching icky urinals. I’ve seen little guys not tall enough to reach trying anyway and making way too much contact, or boys tall enough that are so afraid someone might see them that their whole body is pressing against a disgusting urinal. (By the way women, if you get too close there is backsplash). Tell your boys if they don’t feel comfortable using a urinal without getting intimate with it, to just stick to the stalls!

  115. caretaker March 18, 2015 at 8:51 pm #

    The poster already mentioned extenuating circumstances, and my 26-year-old brother is one of them–severely autistic, non-verbal, with the mental capacity of about a 2-year-old. He can’t unzip/button pants, will soil the floor/toilet seat, and must be assisted at every step. He’s also scared of automatic flushing toilets and anxious in close proximity to strangers.

    As his caretaker, if there’s a family/handicapped restroom available, I take him there. Otherwise, I take him to the women’s room. I don’t like it, because I know it might make some people feel uncomfortable, but other than allowing him to soil his pants, I have no other option.

    I’m truly sorry if it’s unpleasant or uncomfortable for anyone else there, and I assure you, it’s also unpleasant and uncomfortable for me. I wonder if someone will comment or demand that we leave–it did happen, once. I don’t take my brother because I’m paranoid about pedophiles or uncaring of other’s feelings, it’s just the only way he can use the bathroom. Or I can use the bathroom in public, for that matter, unless I have someone else there to supervise him outside for me.

    I’m near in age to my brother, and it’s possible some people initially think we’re friends, or he’s even my boyfriend. People are generally nice when i take him to the bathroom, and I just hope everyone is mindful that those extenuating circumstances do exist, and they aren’t always apparent at first (or even second) glance.

  116. Victoria LeBreton March 19, 2015 at 1:47 am #

    I really don’t understand what the big deal is. This is what people have to worry about? People have this false sense of security that things could never happen to them until it does. How about the 6 year old boy who had his penis cut off as part of a man’s gang initiation in a public bathroom. His initiation was to cut off the penis off the next person who walked in the bathroom. Sure it doesn’t happen all the time but it doesn’t stop the fact that this is the world we live in and it just has to happen once usually during the perfect opportunity such as a public bathroom for it to

  117. Warren March 19, 2015 at 2:28 am #

    Victoria,
    How many times has that happened, and prove it please.
    As compared to how many kids die each year in motor vehicle accidents, the leading cause of death for kids in the US.

    And young girls should not have to share a bathroom with boys their age or older, because some mom is paranoid. Those young girls have every right to be comfortable in a ladies restroom or changeroom.

    Old enough to be in school, old enough to be in the right gender bathroom.

  118. Josie March 19, 2015 at 5:56 am #

    Sonia, I am an Aussie too. There has been one child killed in a public bathroom in Australia. One. And that was in 2007. So not several in the last 5 years. Our littlies are FAR more likely to be killed by a dog bite – do you let your kids pat dogs?

  119. Kimberly March 19, 2015 at 11:31 am #

    I’ve read a lot regarding the poor little boy who had his penis cut off in a bathroom while being unsupervised. It actually seems to be the #1 reason used as to why boys (of apparently any age) shouldn’t be left to use a men’s room alone. However, this is what I found:

    http://www.snopes.com/horrors/parental/mutilate.asp

    and

    https://books.google.com/books?id=sfD32AqYktUC&pg=PT206&lpg=PT206&dq=Gang+initiation+penis+cut+off+little+boy&source=bl&ots=jWwLhaypAm&sig=8hUYAGXJo-OHGixnSPQKtFviDXA&hl=en&sa=X&ei=muUKVZGFMdjXoASs6IH4Bw&ved=0CCcQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false

    Basically, it’s an urban legend. While there have been instances of children (as well as full grown men and women) being harmed in bathrooms, I think it would be better suited if all the “Chicken Little’s” in the world used actual facts to support their beliefs rather than an obscure legend that’s been around — in one version or another — since before the BIRTH OF CHRIST!!!

    The vitriol that seems to revolve around this one subject is absolutely staggering. One commenter on another page basically told me that she hoped that something would happen to my kids and then I would see that she was right because her kids would be safe at home while I was crying out “why my kid??” on the nightly news.

    Though, as I’ve been thinking about it (stewing really because that single comment really bothered me), I had a sudden epiphany. What bothers me the most, as a woman and mother of a young son, is that my son is growing up in a world where he’s going to be viewed as a potential child molester first and foremost. I’m sorry, but this is clearly and most definitely a case of gender bias and shouldn’t be tolerated. More men should be up in arms about this but I just don’t think that people are looking at it like that.

    Men shouldn’t have to prove that they’re not molesters any more than a woman should have to prove that she “wasn’t asking for it” when she was raped. Or a Mexican should have to prove that they’re not an illegal. Or a black person should have to prove that they’re not planning to steal from the store they just walked into. Or a Muslim should have to prove that they’re not a terrorist.

  120. Beth March 19, 2015 at 11:46 am #

    @Victoria….in case you don’t like doing your own research from the link Kimberly provided (and I’m guessing you don’t), here’s the most relevant statement:

    Although this legend has traveled across the United States and England, and is always told as a “this really happened!” tale, all efforts to substantiate it have failed. Not so much as one instance of a boy being castrated in a washroom and left to die by a gang have surfaced although the rumor has run rampant through a number of communities, prompting various debunkers and police departments to expend great efforts to run it down. It’s a legend, and nothing more.

  121. Puzzled March 19, 2015 at 11:47 pm #

    The danger of a boy using the men’s room is he might wake up in a bathtub of ice without his kidneys…or maybe I have my stories confused.

  122. Emily March 20, 2015 at 12:53 am #

    >>And young girls should not have to share a bathroom with boys their age or older, because some mom is paranoid. Those young girls have every right to be comfortable in a ladies restroom or changeroom.
    Old enough to be in school, old enough to be in the right gender bathroom.<<

    Sing it, Warren. Seriously, I had the misfortune of being an adolescent girl in the years before our YMCA built the family/special needs change room, which resulted in the girls' change room being overrun with school age boys, especially on weekend mornings, when they taught multiple levels of swimming at the same time. For years, I'd either throw my clothes on over my bathing suit, and then change properly when I got home, or I'd scope out a bathroom stall to change in, and invariably get yelled at for taking too long, because "Bratley has to go RIGHT NOW!!!" That made me mad, because I shouldn't have had to hide in a bathroom stall to ensure privacy in my designated change room. At the time, the rules were that everyone over six had to use the correct-gendered change room, and everyone under six had to use the change room belonging to the gender of their three supervising adult. Since taking kids to swimming lessons primarily fell to mothers, this resulted in the girls' change room being overrun with little boys, and some of them were over six, because some mothers claimed that their sons weren't ready to negotiate the boys' change room alone at six. The YMCA also had a rule that nobody under sixteen could use the adult change rooms, but I (along with my entire Bronze Cross class) cheated and "graduated" to the women's room at fourteen. Now, things are a little different, because we have the family change room, and everyone over now has to use either that, or their correct-gendered room, but ever since I became legitimately old enough (according to the YMCA's rules) for the women's change room, I don't get too mad if I see girls who appear to be under sixteen, because I figure that they deserve the dignity and privacy that I didn't have growing up.

  123. s.m. walke March 21, 2015 at 1:04 pm #

    i live in a small town and I personally know two predators who molested boys in public restroom, one at a bowling alley, the other was acutally a women who followed 2 boys in the bathroom and molested them. Obviously the odds of this esp. today are becoming less and less, my son has autism and is 6 but looks 9, cannot undo pants, or wipe himself, and when I was growing up I witnessed several beating by other boys in bathrooms

  124. Katie March 22, 2015 at 3:30 pm #

    I have had my son use the men’s room since he was 5. In fact, while out to eat with family,my brother in law has insisted on accompanying him (when he was 8 years old) even though my husband is with us. He doesn’t agree that our 8 year old is capable of using the restroom on his own. The only exception to this is when we have attended sporting events and the line for the women’s room is a mile long and the men’s is a quick in and out. Depending on what stadium we are at and how comfortable he is, he will go and go back to our seats, but if it’s crowded and there are lots of rambunctious adults I prefer him to stay with me.

  125. Warren March 22, 2015 at 10:59 pm #

    @sm
    If you personally know two molestors, I hope you had the good sense to turn them in to the police.

  126. Lynn March 27, 2015 at 4:24 pm #

    In 1998, 9 year-old Matthew had his throat slashed in a public restroom on the beach in Oceanside, CA. His aunt was waiting for him outside and saw the killer enter and exit. I understand mothers’ concerns. But your rights end where mine begin, and public restrooms simply aren’t co-ed. The mom who brought her (apparently)10-year old boy into the Target ladies’ room while I was there needs to find another solution. She could ask a male Target employee to take her son to the men’s room. Or She could have found a single or family restroom at one of the dozens of other stores in the shopping center. At the very least, she should have called out a warning to anybody in the stalls—“boy coming in!!”The option she chose, which was to yell at me when I told her she can’t have him in there, was not the right one. Again, her rights end where mine begin, and I don’t care to share public restrooms with males who are no longer “little boys.”

  127. nana knows March 28, 2015 at 12:19 am #

    I think it is kind of stupid that so many people have such a strong opinion about others bringing their “big boys” into the restroom with them. If they feel uncomfortable having them go into a room alone with strange men (where they will be exposing themselves), who are you to judge?!? Every parent has a right(and responsibility) to protect their offspring to the best of their ability. If you are a person who had a safe and happy childhood then you couldn’t possibly understand the mental agony of those who have had bad experiences and want to spare their children the same. Those of us who weren’t so lucky DO know what can happen within 3 to 5 minutes (ALOT). Rare occurrences my Foot! What is rare is the likelihood of your kid ever telling you what happened, EVER! I don’t know what town many of these people are from but I Would love to move there. I personally had 2 separate occasions where random men tried to get me into their car by intimidation/force. Aside from that, my older brother was nearly dragged into a car by a woman(he was 7). My mom (with all of us kids in the car) had to stop around the corner of our house to rescue a little crying kindergarten girl who was walking home from school w/her little friend. A man in a truck had pulled to the side, opened his door and was reaching across the seat with his arm trying to pull her in. He took off when my mom stopped. As a young adult at work I witnessed a man stalking and attempting to isolate a brother and sister in a store (I chased him off). And as a little girl(about 4 yrs), sitting on the sidewalk in front of my house I saw a young lady (maybe 6 yrs?) Get onto a man’s motorcycle and ride away. The whole neighborhood searched for her and she was given back the next day but, not until after the damage was done. A coworker of mine had her 11 year old daughter waiting(not very long) out in front of the rec center after dance class and she went missing. A man had been waiting in the bushes for her. She was freed that night after he had done unspeakable things to her. You probably didn’t hear about any of these on the news. These are only some that have touched me personally. From strangers! Yes, there are bathroom ones too. One briefly made the news(mcdonalds assaulted by a man), the other didn’t (Boys and Girls club assaulted by a teen). Mcdonalds only took about five minutes to occur. Imagine, any one of those men mentioned above (they really are not that uncommon) alone, with your kid, in the bathroom. Even a few minutes can change their lives. Don’t judge people who have had actual experience for trying to spare their children.

  128. nana knows March 28, 2015 at 12:44 am #

    Oh yeah, little Matthew also was murdered right here, in my town at the beach that I visit. Also really….boy coming in??? So ridiculous! Are there no doors on the stalls? Are they made of glass? Are you afraid the ten year old will see you washing your hands? What do you think he is going to do to you?!? If he was trying to use the same toilet at the same time as you then that would be an issue. They are just kids for crying out loud! People who actually take issue with this stuff need better things to do. I love how some people believe their personal preferences trump the rights of the parent to keep their child safe. If a boy above 6 in the bathroom bothers you then go to the bathroom at home! Little boys are not men, they are little boys. Get over it.

  129. Warren March 28, 2015 at 3:41 am #

    nana knows nothing,

    So parents have the right to make other people uncomfortable to keep their kids safe? Fine. Keep your boys out of the women’s restroom and changeroom, because my daughters don’t need your little pervert looking at them.

    And like you said, your comfort is not relevant. Sucks to be you.

  130. nana knows March 30, 2015 at 5:55 am #

    Warren,

    Who’s being overprotective now? Like I said, if you cannot handle the idea of a boy seeing them wash their hands then wait until you get home to use the restroom. Restrooms (in case you haven’t noticed) have doors, you know, those swinging things that latch. Teach your sensitive little girls how to use them and they will be fine.