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Should these children have been allowed to go to the toilets unattended?

(98 Posts)
FourArms Wed 10-Jul-13 20:30:35

I know I know this gets discussed all the time.. but there is a twist on this one!

I was picking up DS from a Beavers trip tonight and arrived a little early. Whilst I was there, I overheard a child ask to go to the toilet. The Beavers leader asked if he wanted anyone to go with him. He said yes. Then another Beaver said they knew were the toilets were, so they were sent in together.

So, two children, aged around 6/7, whose parents weren't there, went to the toilet themselves in an sports centre type environment. We were outside, loos inside a building and not visible from where we were.

Because I was picking up the child sent to accompany the first child, I discreetly observed them to ensure they were OK. Nobody else monitored their return.

Is this OK? I would not like my DS to go to the toilet himself under these circumstances (children opposite sexes so didn't go in to toilets together). When I took him later, he got stuck in there because the door was too heavy, but it's the risk of something much more unlikely happening that concerns me.

AIBU to think they shouldn't have allowed this? Is there a regulation about it? I know it wouldn't have been allowed on the school trips that I've accompanied.

Permanentlyexhausted Thu 11-Jul-13 23:37:01

My Brownies have just had to learn and I'm yet to have one who has had an accident. I often have meetings where I am the only CRB-checked adult and it would be rare for me to have more than the absolute minimum number of adults for my ratios. I cannot send children to the toilet with a non-CRB checked adult, I cannot leave children behind with non-CRB checked adults. I cannot be in two places at once. This isn't a problem in our normal meeting place but it is when we go out and about.

curlew Thu 11-Jul-13 23:26:46

I just think it's sad that we have such low expectations of our children,

ThisIsMummyPig Thu 11-Jul-13 23:09:40

I am a guide leader, so 10+. One night I told two girls they couldn't go to the toilet 5 minutes before the end of the night, as I was certain they were going to mess about, and leave paper all over the floor.

My District commissioner was there, and told me quite categorically I could never refuse to let a child go to the toilet. Basically you can never know if there are medical issues.

The last few minutes is always a bit of a rush - they have their stuff to get together, letters and receipts to give out, and we like to tell them about what's coming up (tie your hair up next week, we're cooking, type of thing). I can easily see why you would need your adults with you if you were doing this for small children.

What I can't understand from your posts is if there were any other people in the building, or if it was just your son's beaver troop tonight.

babyhmummy01 Thu 11-Jul-13 23:03:31

If the sports place was somewhere they didn't know then I am gonna risk.getting flamed and say Yanbu.

I can understand the leaders reasonings as I have outlined above regarding ratios and safeguarding themselves HOWEVER as leaders we all know at least one kid will refuse to per when.everyone does and then demand to go later and as such I always ensure I have additional adults or guides to assist with things like loo runs.

I wouldn't necessarily do anything about this at the moment OP, but it might be worth having a word next time an event is arranged and asking if enough adults are there to cover unexpected loo requirements and if not volunteer to help that week

FourArms Thu 11-Jul-13 22:57:10

Two children went in - boy & girl. Boy went into toilet & girl came out of building. Boy was left alone. So child did go in alone. And child was asked initially if they wanted someone to go with them, I'm sure if they'd said no they'd have been allowed to go in alone.

Toilets at guide hut - fine. Toilets at external unfamiliar (never been before) venue - not fine.

exoticfruits Thu 11-Jul-13 22:49:57

I remember asking a 6yr old to wait a few minutes and she wet the carpet saying 'well it is too late now'- so I go with letting them go if they want to go!

babyhmummy01 Thu 11-Jul-13 22:49:08

All depends on number of kids, there are insurance ratios that need to be covered for the group remaining as well as the safeguarding issues of "thou shalt not be alone with kids" issue. So it would have needed 2 adults to take the kids which may have left them under staffed to look after the rest. It's a tricky situation (i'm a brownie leader) but I think a lot depends on maturity of the kids and whether its a venue they were familiar with.

I personally always make sure I have more adults than necessary due to this sort of thing but I do allow the kids to go to the loo unaccompanied in our venue and they are a fair way from me.

xylem8 Thu 11-Jul-13 22:31:15

Lord Baden Powell would be turning in his grave at this mollycoddling of 7 year olds

Permanentlyexhausted Thu 11-Jul-13 22:27:50

The simple answer here is that the Beavers should be taken en masse to the toilet at the start of the activity and told that there will be no further toilet breaks until their parents collect them. That's how it works with my Brownies. I don't spend my precious free time planning activities just to spend half the meeting time hanging around public toilets so children can go to the toilet at their own convenience rather than everyone else's.

exoticfruits Thu 11-Jul-13 22:09:01

A child didn't go alone in OP.

littleducks Thu 11-Jul-13 21:41:34

I asked about this when I went as a parent helper on a school trip and wasnt sure what to do, they let children go alone but said in their experience its never just one child that then goes several will want to and that's exactly how it played out.

aldiwhore Thu 11-Jul-13 21:29:27

I should add that my main concern would be a child getting into difficulty rather than being abused.

I remember having an accident in public loos, I just didn't make it to the cubicle quick enough, I was around 6/7 yrs old. I was toop scared to shout for help, and there was no adult within shouting range. I was there for 20 minutes with pooy pants before anyone 'responsible' came searching for me. I was distraught.

aldiwhore Thu 11-Jul-13 21:26:38

I think I cannot judge this.

It very much depends on how busy the sport's centre is, how big, how risky.

Our local "sport's centre" is a large shed with an office and loos.
Our city's is massive.

For example, I allow my 5 yr old to go to the loo alone in one local Sainsbury's, in another local Sainsbury's I wouldn't dream of it.

You are probably NBU, but there is a chance you are.

Sorry to be vague!

FourArms Thu 11-Jul-13 21:22:32

Interesting you should mention the chaos at pick up
time - that was when the much more serious (IMO obviously!!) incident happened. But I know IANBU about that one!!

Perhaps if you know no-one who has been sexually assaulted you feel the world is safer, but opposite if it has happened to someone close to you. sad

Why don't I volunteer? I do already, just not at Beavers. I can't do everything sadly and nor do I want to - I do feel this builds independence, DS2 would rely on me for everything if I was there.

BTW - sports centre 'type' environment was me being deliberately vague - there would have been no CCTV in toilets (is there anywhere?!). This wouldn't necessarily prevent an incident anyway - just assist in conviction afterwards.

Solari Thu 11-Jul-13 12:17:16

I don't think Birdsgottafly has a distorted view if what she is seeing are the actual numbers of individuals and incidences involved.

The public on the other hand, really does have no idea, because sexual offenders are utterly invisible (just look like your average human being).

There also seems to be the impression that if you don't know anyone it happened to, that it must be rare. The problem is that with molestation/rape, large numbers of people don't talk about it. Even official stats don't reflect the entirety of the truth as many also never report.

I think its a good thing society is trying to shed more light on the problem through media (although sensationalism doesn't help). And I do think there is a balance to be struck between being utterly terrified of letting your children out of your sight, and flippantly disregarding risk that does actually exist.

Birdsgottafly Thu 11-Jul-13 12:05:28

I wish that my reality was distorted, the point is that to an extent, you can make decisions about what risks your own children can take, within reason, but those running clubs need to take extra care.

When it is said that a child will be attacked/abused by someone they know, that person who goes to the leisure center, would be counted as someone they know (as in the case of April Jones, a neighbour, who hung about when the children would be out), the same applies to so called relatives (but personally i don't count a new boyfriend as someone the child does know, they have targeted a LP).

We should take care with children under around 7, which is the case here, so in this instance, it is fine.

Children do start to pick up on "not quite right attention" at this age. This is why we have started to stop the previous unnecessary hugs and kisses to strangers from children, as well as calling everyone Aunt/Uncle etc.

Waltons Thu 11-Jul-13 11:58:28

curlew grin

gazzalw Thu 11-Jul-13 11:43:30

I am not negating that there is an issue with predatory adults and one needs to be cautious (but I still think you can be overcautious to the point of actually making children afraid to do anything on their own), but Birdsgottafly, you are presumably working at "the thick end of the wedge" and have as distorted a view of reality as we the lay public have the opposite view.

curlew Thu 11-Jul-13 11:41:13


We keep our parents well back behind the machine gun emplacement traffic cones, and release the children one by one. If they want to talk, they have to wait til the end.

Hard, our Cub Leader. hard.

Waltons Thu 11-Jul-13 11:35:42

I would be very worried about any activity involving 7 and unders where there was "chaos at collection time"

Funnily enough, curlew, everything is very well-organised until the parents turn up.

20 or 30 parents, all talking to each other until the leaders can't make themselves heard, half of them want to ask the leaders questions about something that could easily wait for a text the next day (and that they've probably already been told 3 times already) ...

curlew Thu 11-Jul-13 11:28:40

Why would they rule out then300 known sex offenders first before looking to the family when overwhelmingly the culprit is in the family?

Birdsgottafly Thu 11-Jul-13 11:25:46

For example, when Tia Sharp went missing, 300 known sex offenders had to be ruled out, before they looked towards the family, that was in Croydon.

Birdsgottafly Thu 11-Jul-13 11:22:32

'lots of sex offenders' actually constitute a very, very small number as a % of the population. Do you actually know anyone who has had a nasty experience, except for those reported thro' The Media?

I work in Children's services and daily have to put people's names into our computers, the amount that deliberately target vulnerable families and make sure that they attend where children are going to be, the amount of the general population, who are a risk to children, would shock the people.

Also the amount of child abusers/sex offenders who are not prosecuted, is of a similar level to DV perpetrators.

I also have family who work across services and when plans are made for those who are abusers and for the most dangerous one's (who have one to one care), is getting better in listing where and when they can attend.

Also informing places such as leisure centers where Beaver type groups use, so there is more monitoring, is getting better.

Whereas anyone can walk into a Macdonalds, unchecked.

Unless you work in services, you probably don't know what is happening to make places safer and why those policies are needed.

curlew Thu 11-Jul-13 11:20:48

I would be very worried about any activity involving 7 and unders where there was "chaos at collection time"

Waltons Thu 11-Jul-13 11:06:47

By far the bigger risk is that, in the chaos at collection time, a child is collected by (as sirzy points out) someone they know but who is not authorised to collect them. The child doesn't realise and happily goes off with them. It is only when mum turns up 5 minutes later that the truth emerges. <shudders at the mere thought>

The leaders were almost certainly making it their priority to ensure that each child was collected by the right person and that none of the kids wandered out of the centre.

If you were collecting from the entrance of the sports centre, the loos would be further inside the building.

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