“You Must Be 12 To Use the Bathroom Alone”

Here’s a sign from a church in suburban Chicago. The reader who sent it to me wrote:

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75 Responses to “You Must Be 12 To Use the Bathroom Alone”

  1. James February 22, 2017 at 9:33 am #

    “Things are different than when we were young”, very true. Things are much safer now, and there is much more paranoia.

  2. BL February 22, 2017 at 9:40 am #

    Is every sermon at this church about the Apocalypse?

  3. R Hookup February 22, 2017 at 9:42 am #

    “Sorry, ladies… I couldn’t take my 11 year old daughter into the men’s room, so I had to come in here. I’m a single dad, so we don’t have any adult women who could accompany her.

    She llllllllllllllllllllooooooooooooooooovvvvvvvvesssssssssssssss that I come in her with her.”

  4. Doug Shaw February 22, 2017 at 9:50 am #

    I was criticized by a fellow parent because I let my 10 year old daughter go to restaurant bathrooms by herself. She is ten. In a restaurant. That I am also in.

  5. Craig February 22, 2017 at 9:52 am #

    Still waiting to see the news report of something bad that happened to a child in a public restroom in a church, or restaurant, etc.

  6. Dienne February 22, 2017 at 9:57 am #

    R Hookup – that was my thought exactly. If it’s safety we’re concerned about, I’m not sure that mandating adults in the bathroom with kids is the way to go about it since not all kids have same-sex parents available at all times. And in any case, couldn’t an actual pervert use this to get access to the ladies’ room? “Don’t mind me, I’m just in here waiting for my daughter.”

  7. SKL February 22, 2017 at 10:02 am #

    I wonder the where and why. This sounds like a social services agency and maybe they have weirdos in the bathroom. Maybe they have had problems with people bothering children in there. If that is the case, then I think this sign is understandable.

    It doesn’t say that needs to be a rule everywhere – just in their specific bathroom.

    I do think most people would consider 12 old enough to use most bathrooms alone – but some places, I don’t even want to go alone, so ….

  8. Emily February 22, 2017 at 10:06 am #

    More like, “The safety of our church from liability is very important to us.” After all, despite the majority of kids (and adults) who make it to the bathroom and back unharmed, something COULD happen–bathroom floors are hard, and slippery when wet, and, ZOMG, privacy is a breeding ground for sex assaults and other violence. Of course, all those dangers magically vanish in the face of any person who has reached his or her eighteenth birthday. Okay, not really, but if something did happen, the insurance company might say, okay, Jayden is eleven, and suffered a bump to the head slipping on the bathroom floor. Who was supervising Jayden at the time? Nobody? Your fault; we won’t pay. But, I wonder why there’s no upper age limit on unchaperoned bathroom use, since the very elderly can be more vulnerable than children. Maybe something about age discrimination, preserving dignity, et cetera, but if that’s the case, it should work in both directions. Twelve is well into puberty–I started puberty when I was about ten–so, there are SO many reasons why a kid wouldn’t want to be escorted to the bathroom, that would kick in before twelve. This policy is a great way to drive kids out of the church community, and not just until they’re twelve either.

  9. Powers February 22, 2017 at 10:18 am #

    Plot twist: It’s a single-stall restroom.

  10. SKL February 22, 2017 at 10:45 am #

    Look at the bottom line of the sign. This is not just a church bathroom.

  11. Dienne February 22, 2017 at 10:57 am #

    All right, I’ll fess up – I submitted this. My daughters attend a private school housed in a defunct Catholic school. Next to our main building is a building that houses a gym, a cafeteria, a preschool (run by Catholic Charities) and a “Family Strengthening Center” (also a Catholic Charities affiliate). The bathroom in question is in the lower level of this building, which our school uses from time to time, including for evening performances, which is how I happened to see the sign.

    My daughters’ school says that when they use the space during the day, our kids are allowed to use the restrooms on their own, but that still raises some questions, such as, (a) aren’t our kids likely to encounter adults (perhaps of the opposite gender) accompanying their children in the restroom, (b) isn’t it possible that the SMOC Family Strengthening Center personnel may find them in there alone and they might get in trouble for that, and (c) what the hell is in their bathrooms that an eleven-year-old needs a parent to be protected from???

    The Family Strengthening Center is exactly what it sounds like – they just help local families struggling with joblessness, divorce, education issues and other family stressors. They do not deal with children with disabilities who might need mandated assistance in the bathroom nor do they serve a clientele that is any more “scary” than the general population. The bathrooms have three or four stalls and the area is pretty well populated so if something did happen, a kid could easily call for help and be heard.

  12. James Pollock February 22, 2017 at 11:09 am #

    A couple of things:

    First, this organization may be aware of a specific risk factor that you are NOT aware of. Perhaps this building hosts the “Violent Pedophiles Anonymous” meetings. Perhaps this exact bathroom has been the site of 27 assaults in the past two years.

    Or maybe the problem isn’t that there’s a danger to people, but a different problem… maybe they’ve had some vandalism problems, and suspect 10-year-olds are guilty. (And they don’t want to accuse anyone, they just want it to stop.)

    Ultimately, in my view, is the property-rights argument… whoever owns and maintains the property gets to decide who uses it and under which conditions. If you don’t like it, “go” elsewhere.

    (I wonder if this sign comes about as a response to all the fuss over “potty purity”… the panic that trans people are using bathrooms intended for their gender identity rather than their physical, er, equipment. This is a fear based on the huge uptick in reported violent attacks by trans women in the ladies’, which has recently soared to a new high of 0 reported cases.

  13. JTW February 22, 2017 at 11:16 am #

    if the church is so dangerous for children alone that they can’t even use the bathroom without adult supervision, why would anyone want to go there?
    ESPECIALLY a church…

  14. Emily February 22, 2017 at 11:19 am #

    Another thing–some parks have also started banning adults without child supervision, so I wonder if the church/Family Strengthening Centre might be headed that way too…..Which would be a shame, because it’d make the Centre much less accessible to adults who’ve had their children taken from them–maybe by kidnappers, but more likely by the authorities, or by the other parent in a divorce or separation.

  15. John B. February 22, 2017 at 11:48 am #

    “The safety of your child is very important to us.”

    Safe from what??

  16. diane February 22, 2017 at 11:55 am #

    @Craig, it is very rare but it has happened. This was a case in my own community several years back.

    And you know what? It didn’t stop me from letting my son go to that bathroom without me, although I must admit for about a year (till he was about 5) I would open the door and see if anyone was in before letting him go, and I’d stand outside the door. Not sure it would’ve prevented anything, but I’m not immune to fear, even regarding statistically rare events.

    THAT SAID, this sign, and the community’s response to it as being anything less than outrageously ridiculous and unnecessary, is awful.

  17. John B. February 22, 2017 at 11:57 am #

    Putting this into perspective, from the verbiage at the bottom of the sign, it looks as if this sign was posted at the Family Center for Catholic Charities. Now if I had a 10-year-old daughter and were in this place and she badly needed to use the bathroom, I’d just tell her to go and I doubt anyone would say anything. I’m guessing it’s not strictly enforced for responsible children.

  18. Mark Roulo February 22, 2017 at 12:02 pm #

    I tend to define “supervised” and “accompanied” very loosely.

    When my child was around six or seven, I defined “supervised” for one of our local bookstores to be “in the bookstore next door.”

    You don’t actually HAVE to obey random signs.

  19. John B. February 22, 2017 at 12:03 pm #

    “Sorry, ladies… I couldn’t take my 11 year old daughter into the men’s room, so I had to come in here. I’m a single dad, so we don’t have any adult women who could accompany her.”

    The bathroom in question could be a single unisex bathroom and not a communicable one but it still shouldn’t be an issue because there is a lock on the door. Besides, the parent would be able to see if anyone tried accessing the bathroom while their kid is inside it.

    Goodness, if I were an 11-year-old kid, I certainly would not want even my parent to watch me poop!

  20. LGB February 22, 2017 at 12:17 pm #

    @Dienne, what do they want parents to do in a situation like that of @Doug Shaw?

    Which would they consider worse–Doug’s daughter using the ladies room alone, or him–a full-grown man–entering the ladies room with her to make sure that she is “safe?” I constantly bang my head against the proverbial brick wall knowing that we parents just can’t win.

    I volunteer for and highly respect Catholic Charities. But if they truly run their services out of an area so dangerous that 12-year-olds can’t safely use the restroom alone, they need to be petitioning the diocese for a new building in a lower crime area.

  21. James 2 February 22, 2017 at 12:24 pm #

    Actually, I think this sign makes some sense. It’s going about it dishonestly (ironic, given it’s a church organization), but my thought is that this is a very passive-aggressive way to avoid vandalism. I remember being a 10 year old kid. While I didn’t participate in the random acts of destruction common at that age (mostly making a mess out of the school bathrooms just to make a mess out of them) I certainly saw enough of it. A sign like this may be an attempt to discourage that sort of behavior without taking a stand against the people actually doing the vandalism.

    The fact that the parents took the sign at face value and found it reasonable is depressing. When I was 11 if my parents had tried to escort me to the bathroom I’d have thought they’d lost their minds. At that point I was routinely handling firearms, helping with major remodeling work around the house (as in, helping build walls and wire rooms), etc. Taking a leak was not something I considered beyond my capacity. The only reason I escort my 3-year-old is that he has the attention span of a three year old boy and someone needs to make sure he finds his way back to our table at restaurants. He’s a good kid, he’d just stop to play with every other child in the place!

  22. Michelle February 22, 2017 at 12:33 pm #

    Dienne, I’m guessing the bathroom is for this church? https://www.catholiccharities.net/Portals/0/Programs%20and%20Services/Family%20Strengthening/Documents/SMOCFactSheet_FS_012417.pdf

    My local church doesn’t have rules for children in the bathroom who are under their parent’s care, but once they are in the care of the Sunday School the rules change. They must be escorted to the bathroom by an adult of the same gender. The child must wait outside while the adult goes into the bathroom and makes sure no one else is in there (there are 10 or 15 stalls). Once the bathroom is empty, the child may enter, while the supervising adult waits outside and makes sure no one else enters the bathroom until the child comes out. Then the child is escorted back to class. These rules aren’t based on any particular issue with our particular church or bathroom, or with any particular people attending our upper middle class suburban church. It’s a broad policy set by the “child safety” training program for our denomination.

  23. Melissa February 22, 2017 at 12:37 pm #

    Usually when you hear about a child being molested in a bathroom, it’s by an adult they KNOW. Like a coach or Sunday school teacher. Which means, guess what, the adult accompanied them to the bathroom! That means they are likely safer under a policy that says no kid over 3/4 can have an adult with them in the bathroom, for the child’s safety.

    It is SO rare to see a story of stranger molestation in a public restroom. And on that one occurrence per year, it’s a-l-w-a-y-s a men’s room. So I tend to pause a moment more for letting my 9-year-old son enter a men’s room alone than to let my 7-year-old daughter into the ladies’ room alone. She’s been going alone since about age 4. Both kids occasionally (gasp) talk to strangers in the bathroom, when a nice person offers to help them get an out-of-reach paper towel. Most strangers are helpful and kind.

    Even so, I just every so often remind them (which they know well by now) that if any adult seems suspicious, to leave at once, and if of course someone tries to grab or touch them, they know to scream, bite the hand over their mouth, poke between the eyes and/or aim a kick to the crotch. We’ve talked about that for years! Hence, I feel they are well prepared for the never-going-to-happen-anyway potential stranger abduction. And I let them play freely around the neighborhood (despite accusations from the middle-aged neighbor who says I should not let them play “unsupervised” and whose son, I can’t help but point out, is 27 and still lives at home while working retail… which is where helicopter parenting will get you!).

  24. Dienne February 22, 2017 at 12:52 pm #

    Michelle – yes, that’s the place. And, I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be rude, but I’m glad I’m not a member of your denomination. That procedure is absurd. The messages the kids are getting are (a) you are incapable of handling something as basic as going to the bathroom on your own and/or (b) bathrooms are terrifying places. Neither of those is true 99.999999% of the time. I feel bad for the kids of your Sunday School.

  25. Eric S February 22, 2017 at 12:52 pm #

    Why is “12” the magic number? Not really that much older than 10. And age isn’t indicative of one’s intelligence and abilities. I know enough 10 year olds and younger that are smarter than some of the teens I know.

    There are some teens I know who are constantly afraid (because that’s how they grew up). At 15, is afraid to go to school by himself. At 16, is afraid to take the bus to the mall (one 10 min bus ride). Meanwhile the 8, 9, and 10 year olds I know, are riding their bikes to the park by themselves. Do (try) tricks on their skateboards. Insist on walking by themselves. The 9 and 10 year olds love helping cooking and cleaning. The 8 year old, no so much in the cooking, but helps enthusiastically with the cleaning.

    Ya…so age isn’t really a good gauge in ones mental and emotional limits. And it doesn’t make any child safer. What they have in their heads, and how it’s used MAKES THEM SAFER.

    For people who think they are smart, they sure are stupid. For those who think they are doing right by children, are pretty ignorant in how they go about doing it. Common sense stupid.

  26. LGB February 22, 2017 at 12:54 pm #

    @James 2 that wouldn’t make sense given the amount of vandalism seen in high schools and middle schools. You’d think they’d do just the opposite: “Children 12-18 years must be accompanied by an adult to use the restroom.” “All pre-profiled youth must be strip-searched for Sharpies and spray paint.”

    On another note, it drives me crazy when signs, rules, and notifications are accompanied by some sort of proselytizing about safety: “For the safety of our patrons . . . ” “In order to ensure a safe experience . . . ”

    Just make the #$%^& rule without implying that anyone who disagrees with you is guilty of reckless endangerment. Or at least word things a little more honestly: “Because we’re so terrified of getting sued . . . . “

  27. Eric S February 22, 2017 at 12:56 pm #

    Michelle… So what happens if another child has to use the bathroom? He has to wait, till the other kid leaves, so that his “escort” can repeat the same process for himself?? That’s as bad as OCD. And a bad case of OCD at that. Let’s be real, this isn’t so much for the safety of the kids, because any sane, common sense person will tell you, the kids are safe without all those rules. No, this is for your church and it’s staff to cover their asses. If anything goes wrong, they can fall back and say they did everything by the book. That’s what these rules are primarily for.

  28. Havva February 22, 2017 at 12:59 pm #

    It is impossible to tell which is more frightening, because both are effluent from the same source. Which drop of water is most wet?

    All we can do is keep fighting the good fight for the dignity of our kids, a proper understanding of risk and risk mitigation, the necessity of freedom to childhood growth… and for this issue, perhaps most potently of all, some understanding of how inappropriate it is to be dragging pubescent or nearly pubescent boys into the lady’s room. Or likewise inappropriateness for pubescent or nearly pubescent girls being dragged into the men’s room (though my guess is the inappropriateness of that is more widely understood).

    The swim school my daughter attends put up the opposite sort of signs shortly after they opened. I was apparently one of several women who complained because of rather large boys in the ladies locker room. In the case I encountered (and the staff thought it was just one lady) the mother, not only brought her boys in there and did everything for them, but while doing so, allowed them to point at, comment on, and generally ogle the women who were changing in there. After a few weeks of complaints they put up signs telling everyone that children over 5 are required to use the locker room appropriate to their gender.

  29. Denise February 22, 2017 at 1:11 pm #

    Is this the Church of the Holy Perverts? If I scratch my head any more, I’ll wear out my scalp. My three year old can run to the bathroom by himself. Pretty sure he’ll be able to handle it at age 12.

  30. Dean February 22, 2017 at 1:18 pm #

    Would the Scouts’ Buddy System be okay? On the other hand,when a member of my old Cadette Girl Scout troop, ages 111-15, needed to use a restroom–in the park where we met, at a fast-foods place, at a Girl Scout camp–an entire 8-member patrol usually went along…must have been quite crowded someimes.

  31. Taed February 22, 2017 at 1:23 pm #

    This could also be an issue of “the bathroom is getting messed up, so let’s assume it is kids, and now let’s require parents to chaperone them, and we’ll cloud it as an issue of ‘safety’.”

  32. Reziac February 22, 2017 at 1:31 pm #

    I once knew someone who is a midget, and tho she was in her 40s, looked like a perfect 6 year old child. I wonder what happens when she tries to use the bathroom alone…

  33. Reziac February 22, 2017 at 1:33 pm #

    Alternative solution: pee on the floor. Seriously, that’s what will happen when some carefully rule-abiding 5 year old can’t wait for an adult, and doesn’t dare go in the restroom alone.

  34. elizabeth February 22, 2017 at 1:34 pm #

    To any who talk about vandalism, why would a true christian vandalize anything, let alone their own church? More to the point, if a kid doesnt understand “dont wreck the bathroom using it” by the time theyre eight or ten, they werent taught properly and will not understand the lesson any better at twelve if they still need an escort until then. My church doesnt have any such rules, and kids make it to and from the bathroom alone all the time. I once took a two year old who was not mine to the potty and no one blinked. This church needs to take a comprehensive look at their congregation if a) all their ten and eleven year olds dont know how to go to the bathroom without making a royal mess, and/or b) they have pedos regularly molesting kids.

  35. mer February 22, 2017 at 1:43 pm #

    If you’re not baptized, can you still use the restroom?

  36. James 2 February 22, 2017 at 1:43 pm #

    James Pollock, I’m normally all for property rights arguments, and if an institution wants to put such a sign up I’m all for voting with my feet (did that with the Church a LOOOONG time ago, over different issues). You can’t legislate people to not be morons; if you did, we couldn’t build jails fast enough!

    However, I think that’s only part of the equation. Just as significant was the reaction of the parents–the acceptance of any level of intrusion under the guise of safety, without given it the full minute of thought it would take for them to realize that this can only make people less safe. It took THREE COMMENTS in this thread. If nothing else, this demonstrates with perfect clarity that “safety” is considered a magic word in our culture, one that we’re increasingly not allowed to question, to the point where we are internalizing the inability to question it.

    A church posting a sign like this is annoying. People accepting this sign, and the reasons they give for doing so, are exceedingly dangerous.

  37. Havva February 22, 2017 at 2:19 pm #

    @Eric S,
    The age of 12 pops up for a lot for ending ‘they are too much of a baby to take care of themselves’ restrictions. And my guess is that 12 is the magic age because that is around where puberty kicks in.

    There is something like practicality in setting a line near the onset of puberty. Whatever rule is set there is more enforceable because you don’t get too far off the mark without it being obvious by appearance. And while some of the fearful types might want everyone supervised to 18, they don’t want to be caught giving an adult grief for not having a parent escorting them, so it has to be lower. Twelve is also practical in that kids get a lot more willing to rebel at about that age, and are clever enough to practice effective deception. So for many reasons forcing supervision prior to puberty is more practical than forcing it after.

    Then there is the whole issue of reality rearing it’s head. When the prurient interests get triggered you get situations like I described above. And if they were much older someone might mistake them for adult men and police might get involved. Another reality, by the age of 12 half the kids are taller than petite women such as myself. They can’t really claim they are too small to take care of themselves when little old ladies aren’t. There is also the reality that when someone is physically capable of producing babies, it gets hard to pretend they are a baby. When puberty is hit nature starts reminding people that in other times and places, this was where adulthood was reached. It is probably part of why you see some helicopter parents suddenly so upset at the helplessness and irresponsibility of the teens they have previously done everything for. They can see that this is physically an adult and they expect more of the adult.

  38. WendyW February 22, 2017 at 2:32 pm #

    I’m betting this is an anti-vandalism effort in disguise. They don’t apply it to the kids in the school because those kids are not the problem.

    The church I attend at one time had a homeschool co-op using the facility weekly. This particular group was intended to be “friendly” to kids with ADHD and other issues. Translation- there was very little that resembled discipline and behavioral standards. Some kid flushed something large and unflushable and caused several thousand dollars worth of damage, which the church had to eat the cost of. I’m betting some of the kids from the “struggling” families have done something similar.

  39. Emily February 22, 2017 at 2:51 pm #

    >>I’m betting this is an anti-vandalism effort in disguise. They don’t apply it to the kids in the school because those kids are not the problem.

    The church I attend at one time had a homeschool co-op using the facility weekly. This particular group was intended to be “friendly” to kids with ADHD and other issues. Translation- there was very little that resembled discipline and behavioral standards. Some kid flushed something large and unflushable and caused several thousand dollars worth of damage, which the church had to eat the cost of. I’m betting some of the kids from the “struggling” families have done something similar.<<

    Really, Wendy? That's so backwards. Kids with issues like ADHD, autism, trauma, et cetera, need even MORE structure than kids without those issues–not with huge lists of rules, necessarily, but with routines to make them feel safe, systems in place to help them take age-appropriate responsibility by contributing to the program (for example, a rotating kaper/chore chart at Scouts), and just a sense of predictability. So, if a child knows that a day at the Family Strengthening Centre always begins with, say, circle time/morning meeting, before moving on to a running game, then a craft, then snack, and so on, that gives that child the stability they need to help understand their world. Having a few rules that make sense, with reasons and consequences given, is helpful (for example, "we clean up after ourselves at arts and crafts, because it's part of respecting our space, and the consequence for not doing that is losing craft privileges for X amount of time"), but most kids (and adults) shut down when they're faced with tons of unnecessary rules. As for the problem of kids messing up the bathroom, I actually saw this situation being dealt with, correctly, at the church where my Amnesty chapter meets. We were locked out of our regular room, so we had our meeting in the hallway outside the gymnasium where a Brownie group meets. Some of the girls were apparently playing in the bathroom, and made a mess. Brownie leader asked which girls were responsible, they confessed, and she sent them back into the bathroom to clean up, and made sure that they had done so. No additional punishment was given, and no blanket rules mandating bathroom escorts up to X age were set……which is good, because the problem with those arbitrary age restrictions for unescorted X is, as soon as someone who's Y years old, or Y + 1 years old, does something wrong, or has a problem (like, say, floundering in deep water at a public swimming pool), the new minimum age becomes Z, which is usually at least two years older than Y. I remember one article about Amtrak setting their minimum age for independent riders at 8, and then raising it to 13 (!); not because of any specific incident, but just "for the safety of the passengers," or some other such nonsense. When age creeps get out of hand, yes, I agree with previous posters–it results in eighteen-year-olds who have no basic life skills.

  40. James Pollock February 22, 2017 at 2:57 pm #

    “A church posting a sign like this is annoying. People accepting this sign, and the reasons they give for doing so, are exceedingly dangerous.”

    I raised a couple of possibilities. Neither one of them is “dangerous.”

    It may be that whoever put the sign up actually knows that, whereas ordinary bathrooms are not dangerous, THIS EXACT ONE is.
    You are attributing to them a belief that no bathroom is safe, but the sign does not say that.

    Wading in a lake is not dangerous for most kids. But if the property owner knows that THIS PARTICULAR stretch of lakefront has dangers that are not generally present, they might put up a sign. This might get them some flak (“Oh, this place is dangerous… a kid might GET WET!!! LOL!”)

    Personally, I have no idea if this particular bathroom, in this particular building, at some particular time, is more dangerous than any other. I might tend to defer to someone who knows more about it. I had no idea airport bathrooms were dangerous, and one ended the career of Senator Larry “wide stance” Craig, who also has to put up with people inserting “wide stance” into his name when they talk about him, probably for the rest of his life. I mean, even if this guy saved a bunch of orphans from a burning building right now, would see the news story lead off “Former Senator Larry ‘wide stance’ Craig, famous for an incident in an airport bathroom, was a hero today…”
    OK, that drifted a little bit off-track. Moving on.

    The second possibility that I raised is that this is, indeed, not about safety, but about some other concern and safety is a convenient cover for something else that can, should, or must not be spelled out. I offered vandalism as a possibility, but it doesn’t have to be overt, maybe it’s just someone pulling all the paper towels out of the dispenser or filling the sink with soap.
    If this is the case, there’s a concern, but they’d prefer not to publicize it (if it IS vandalism, just about anything at all that looks like anti-vandalism just draws more vandalism).

  41. James 2 February 22, 2017 at 2:59 pm #

    “To any who talk about vandalism, why would a true christian vandalize anything, let alone their own church?”

    I went to a Roman Catholic school. We had mass twice a week, in addition to going with our families on Sunday. We had daily classes on religion, and monthly visits by the priest. This stuff still happened. You can talk about how these people aren’t “true” Christians all you want (replace Christian with Scotsman and you’ll see how ridiculous this statement is), but the fact of the matter is that religion has no power over prepubescent boys.

    Our church also didn’t have such rules. They dealt with the occasional mess (and to be clear, it wasn’t like this happened every day–once or twice a year at most) by cleaning it up, finding out who did it, and punishing them. You know, the way you teach rules of social behavior.

    As for the nonsense about “they werent taught properly and will not understand the lesson any better at twelve if they still need an escort until then”, do you really not remember childhood? That’s the only conclusion I can draw here. Petty acts of vandalism like stopping up a toilet, TPing a house, or the like are common among children; it’s their way of testing authority. It’s not something you let them get away with, but it’s also not something you can stop or something to worry too much about. They know it’s wrong when they do it and if provided a reasonably safe environment (which includes enforcement of rules) they’ll stop.

    Children have ALWAYS behaved this way. See “Tom Sawyer”, anything by Dickens, or any of the Wilder books about prairie life. Or the Christmas carol with the refrain “Somebody snitched on me. Or Pompie/Hurculanium for that matter. Either Aristotle or Plato, I forget which, wrote on this topic. It’s one of those occasional annoyances that comes from having a prolonged juvenile phase in our life cycle. Kids aren’t saints; it’s our job to teach them, and part of that is letting them get into trouble and teaching them that they really don’t want to do it again.

  42. Dienne February 22, 2017 at 3:06 pm #

    Anyone ever worked at a company that made a blanket policy change because of the actions of one or a few employees? For instance, maybe people used to come and go at their convenience with reasonable trust that the work was getting done and that all areas were covered, but then one or a couple people started coming in late, taking long breaks/lunches, taking off early, leaving lots of work for other people, etc. So then, rather than sit down with the offender(s), management then mandates that everyone has to work 9:00 to 5:00, set break and lunch times, and everyone has to punch in on a timeclock to make sure they’re following the rules. And you get docked 15 minutes for delays of more than 7 minutes. What happens to morale at that point?

    If this rule is a result of vandalism or otherwise not taking proper care of the bathroom, this policy is exactly the wrong way to go about it if, in fact, they are trying to help kids and families. If I were a kid in this program, I certainly wouldn’t be interested in cooperating with anything if I had to put up with a rule like this. If some kids are causing problems in the bathroom, there has to be a better way of finding out who the problem kids are and dealing with them directly.

  43. Dienne February 22, 2017 at 3:09 pm #

    “It may be that whoever put the sign up actually knows that, whereas ordinary bathrooms are not dangerous, THIS EXACT ONE is.”

    If that’s the case, then shouldn’t *that* be where the focus is? If you know you have pedophiles in the bathroom, wouldn’t you get the pedophiles *out* of the bathroom, rather than mandate that 11 year olds have to have mommy or daddy go protect them from the pedophiles???

  44. Buffy February 22, 2017 at 3:21 pm #

    @Michelle, why does your church bathroom even *have* 10-15 stalls if only one person can be in there at a time?

  45. James Pollock February 22, 2017 at 3:28 pm #

    “If that’s the case, then shouldn’t *that* be where the focus is? If you know you have pedophiles in the bathroom, wouldn’t you get the pedophiles *out* of the bathroom, rather than mandate that 11 year olds have to have mommy or daddy go protect them from the pedophiles???”

    Couple of problems there.
    One is that there may be issues of mandatory confidentiality. There are outs for confidentiality if the person knows of specific dangers to specific individuals… this comes from a case where a therapist knew that a patient was actively planning to harm someone, but hadn’t done anything illegal yet, and was thus bound to confidentiality. The “out” doesn’t extend very far.

    Second, there’s the fact that pedophiles are people, and, for the most part, not criminals.
    If you’re providing services to them, you can’t really make the bathrooms off-limits. If they’re receiving treatment that helps keep them from offending (or re-offending), then flatly denying them ANY use of the property creates a BIGGER risk to children, because they won’t have anywhere to go for treatment.

    Instead of reading some giant meaning into the sign, though, why not… since you’re in a position to do so… ask the management why they have this policy?

  46. Papilio February 22, 2017 at 3:29 pm #

    ATTENTION Parents

    Unaccompanied children under the age of 12 found in a restroom will be abducted by a staff member and sacrificed to Satan next Sunday. Thank you for your contribution.

  47. elizabeth February 22, 2017 at 3:43 pm #

    @james 2, maybe i worded it wrong. Yes, i remember being a kid. No, an eight or ten year old should not still be immature enough to stop up a toilet. Thats a sign they werent taught properly. Mandating children under six or eight be escorted might be reasonable (and tbh, i dont think tping a house is “just a way to test authority” because no kid raised with rules will realistically do that unless theyre too stifled or just a bad kid in general). Dont assume that being a kid means “does dumb stuff that actually is vandalism or just plain dumb stuff normally associated with tots and kinders at an age that is old enough to know better”.

  48. Dienne February 22, 2017 at 3:44 pm #

    “Instead of reading some giant meaning into the sign, though, why not… since you’re in a position to do so… ask the management why they have this policy?”

    Actually, I’m really not in a position to do so. My daughters’ school is a completely separate entity from SMOC Family Empowerment Center. Other than a leasing agreement, we have no affiliation with SMOC or any of the social service agencies of Catholic Charities that occupy the buildings. I tried to contact both SMOC and Catholic Charities, but they are rather difficult to get through to and I have not gotten a response to the messages I’ve left. I’ve also asked the powers that be at the school to talk to our landlord (SMOC), but was told that it’s not directly our space (even though we use it from time to time) and so we have no say so in the matter.

  49. Dienne February 22, 2017 at 3:46 pm #

    In any case, James Pollock, I’m pretty sure the SMOC Family Empowerment Center is not a pedophile treatment facility. That would be a HUGE problem in a building that houses a pre-school and which his next door to a private grammar school.

  50. elizabeth February 22, 2017 at 3:50 pm #

    No one say “what about kids with autism/aspergers/adhd, etc” because i can say with certainty that i have shown traits of autism my whole life (in spite of trying my hardest to appear normal) and i still understood by midway through grade school “dont stick that in the toilet” “that isnt a toy” and “youll get in trouble if you do x, y, and z.”

  51. elizabeth February 22, 2017 at 3:52 pm #

    I mean in response to my comments. Btw, those sentences are only examples.

  52. Dienne February 22, 2017 at 3:54 pm #

    Sorry, *which *is* next door to a private grammar school*

  53. donald February 22, 2017 at 4:13 pm #

    Yesterday I performed a big song and dance about how the brain can lose the ability to measure risk. It can’t tell the difference between a 1/100 chance and a 1/1,000,000,000 chance. It does this because when it perceives a stressful situation, it temporarily shuts down the neocortex.

    When this happens, the ability to assess risk isn’t the only thing that is lost. It also loses the ability to weigh up pros and cons. I.E. IT CAN ONLY THINK ABOUT ONE POTENTIAL RISK AT A TIME! Kidnapping and pedophiles flood the memory. However, it can’t project the future of the child that has low confidence, self-worth, or self-esteem. It can only focus on a kidnapper. It can’t see how few kidnappings there are or that teenage suicide is so common, it’s almost an epidemic!

    When the brain feels stress, it can temporarily shut down rational thinking. Helicopter parents are not the only ones in danger of this. It also attacks registered voters!

  54. James Pollock February 22, 2017 at 4:17 pm #

    “In any case, James Pollock, I’m pretty sure the SMOC Family Empowerment Center is not a pedophile treatment facility. That would be a HUGE problem in a building that houses a pre-school and which his next door to a private grammar school.”

    It must SUCK to be kid in your town, what with having to go to school in both the daytime AND at night.

  55. James Pollock February 22, 2017 at 4:22 pm #

    “Actually, I’m really not in a position to do so. My daughters’ school is a completely separate entity from SMOC Family Empowerment Center.”

    I’m a couple of thousand miles away. I think that’s a good excuse why *I* can’t stop in and ask. Your excuse is… something about a lease?

  56. Dienne February 22, 2017 at 4:43 pm #

    James, you are delusional if you think that a building that houses a pre-school, next door to a grammar school, is treating pedophiles, whether day or night. Community outrage would be huge. I mean HUGE.

    And as far as your second comment goes, I know you enjoy being a contrarian, so I hope you enjoy it when I say you’re kind of an ass.

  57. Dienne February 22, 2017 at 4:52 pm #

    In any case, for the sake of a crazy argument, let’s just say that pedophiles are being treated in a building full of children. Shouldn’t the *pedophiles* be the ones required to be escorted to the bathroom??? Why is it anyone else’s responsibility to make sure that pedophiles don’t molest children?

  58. Hermione Cobbold February 22, 2017 at 5:14 pm #

    I remember being that age and pulling out all of the towels out of the dispenser at religious school. It was way more fun than being forced to learn about what was obviously nonsense even to a ten year old.

  59. Cassie February 22, 2017 at 6:13 pm #

    A more honest rewrite:

    Clearly the safety of your child is more important to us then it is to you……wait what??


    We are afraid that your child might be harmed in our bathroom so don’t leave them alone….ever…

  60. Donna February 22, 2017 at 6:15 pm #

    So this is a sign on a single bathroom in a larger building with other bathrooms, none of which have similar signs, and it only applies during evening hours? Does seem like there is probably a reason for said sign that is unknown to the submitter.

  61. James Pollock February 22, 2017 at 6:50 pm #

    “In any case, for the sake of a crazy argument, let’s just say that pedophiles are being treated in a building full of children”

    You can say that, if you want. My hypothetical remains that pedophiles might be meeting in a building that houses children in another part of the day. While I absolutely agree that stupid people would be outraged by this, at least in theory Catholic charities answers to a higher power… one that orders that help be given to the people who need it. I’m not familiar with the part of Jesus’ teachings where he said “care for the sick, unless the public outrage would be HUGE.”
    However, I am not a Catholic, and admit to being somewhat mystified by some of the Church’s doctrine.

    ” Shouldn’t the *pedophiles* be the ones required to be escorted to the bathroom???”
    Perhaps they are???

    ” Why is it anyone else’s responsibility to make sure that pedophiles don’t molest children?”
    You’re asking why it is parents’ responsibility to keep their children safe? You want to leave the responsibility to the children???
    And you call ME a contrarian ass?

  62. Dave February 22, 2017 at 8:37 pm #

    It’s a Catholic church – perhaps the sign should say “no children of any age allowed to use bathroom with a priest.”

  63. LTMG February 22, 2017 at 9:12 pm #

    I thought that God is everywhere.

  64. bluebird of bitterness February 22, 2017 at 10:20 pm #

    Hey, churches are very dangerous places! How do I know? I’ll tell you how I know: When my daughter was seventeen years old, she sold her needlework at an indoor farmer’s market that took place in our town during the winter months. The market happened on Saturday mornings and was hosted by a different church each month. After she was all registered, paid the fee to participate, etc., she was informed that since she was under eighteen she would need to be accompanied by an adult at all times. At a farmer’s market that is open to the public. In a church. On a Saturday morning.

    Obviously, churches are very dangerous places.

  65. Leigh Fowler February 23, 2017 at 7:29 am #

    In North Carolina where I live, you must only enter the bathroom of the gender assigned on your birth certificate if you are over the age of 7. So my 8 year old son and I would not be allowed to do this by law. My older 3 boys would have died of embarrassment if I had gone to the restroom with them until they were 12. Oh, and they have two moms, so we don’t have the option of a dad going to the restroom with them.

  66. Another Katie February 23, 2017 at 8:45 am #

    My guess is that it’s to avoid vandalism – they’ve likely had issues with some of the kids dumping soap on the floor, emptying paper towel dispensers, flushing stuff they shouldn’t, etc. Most churches in our area have cut back on custodial services if they still retain them at all (versus a staff member doing the cleaning) and don’t want to deal with a mess, buying new supplies, or perhaps hiring a handyman to make repairs.

    I give the side eye to the paranoid mommies who haul boys who look to be older than 7 or 8 into the female family locker room at the YMCA. Parents of opposite-gender children over 6 years old who need assistance are asked to use the special needs/family locker room (that’s what my husband does when he brings our younger daughter to her swim lesson). Yet these special snowflakes choose to ignore that policy and I complain at the front desk every time I see it. These boys almost always seem hugely embarrassed to be in a girls’ locker room and to have their mothers supervising them putting on a swimsuit.

    My husband has never seen a man bring a daughter past infancy/early toddlerhood into the male family locker room; the dads there with daughters all seem to use the special needs/family locker room even though they may have to wait a minute or two for a cubicle to open up. It’s always some of the moms who don’t seem to think the rules apply to them.

  67. Mama Bear February 24, 2017 at 10:33 am #

    Actually, I’ve been seeing more and more stories of churches having to adopt safely policies in response to actual incidents of molestation in church bathrooms by either adults or teen boys. It’s part legal maneuver and part precaution. Vandalism might be an issue, but I suspect it’s the former.

  68. David February 24, 2017 at 5:21 pm #

    @Leigh Fowler: That law only applies to public buildings. Private property owners can set their own rules.

  69. pentamom February 25, 2017 at 10:07 am #

    There’s an amazing amount of commentary on churches doing/not doing things for post that isn’t about a church at all.

  70. pentamom February 25, 2017 at 10:07 am #

    Even Lenore labeled it wrong.

  71. Momof8 February 25, 2017 at 12:10 pm #

    That symbol implies that women accompany 11 yo males … in the women’s restroom ?!

  72. Mica February 26, 2017 at 1:10 am #

    I remember being like 6 or so in the first grade and that’s the start of being trusted to use the bathrooms alone. I also remember walking home alone at that age or watching my younger siblings while we walked home together. I lived less than a mile from school, crossed at least 3 busy streets and 1 highway. Bought things from the shops too.

  73. Hans February 26, 2017 at 5:36 pm #

    I (28) went in the zoo to the toilet alone, because toddler (2) refused to go in. Told him to sit on the bench and stay there. Went in came out toddler not kidnapped, no one called police (so this was not in the US).

  74. Lord Nose February 28, 2017 at 4:26 pm #

    So what happens if an unaccompanied kid uses the loo? [gasp!]

    Shock and horror!

  75. Amy February 28, 2017 at 5:12 pm #

    I was in an airplane with my twin 5 year olds and my 22 month old yesterday. Infant wanted a diaper change. Twins were left in the airplane seats with their iPads and the information that I was in the bathrooms at the back of the plane, and they should come get me if they needed me. An hour or so later, one of the twins wanted to use the bathroom. I told them it was in the back of the plane, and asked if they were ok going by themselves. They were. They came back pottied. An hour or so later, other twin wanted to use the bathroom. Same question. That time, twin requested help & company. I asked 22 month old and 5 year old if they were ok staying in the plane seats, with iPads. They both said yes. I went to the bathroom with the other 5 year old, and when we returned, both baby and 5 year old were happy and right where I left them.

    That sign is ridiculous. My children are very capable, and as their parent, I reserve the right to decide what they are and are not capable of doing.