Students suffering with incontinence feel shamed, isolated and unable to tell staff


Four in 10 children with continence problems are bullied because of their condition, research has found.

The majority of pupils say they experience feelings of embarrassment, isolation, shame and depression, the study by ERIC, a childhood continence charity, revealed.

Furthermore, 72 per cent said their problem sometimes, usually or always stops them from taking part in school activities.

And 69 per cent said that they have not felt able, or would not feel able, to talk to school staff about their problem.

The research involved 105 children who suffer with continence problems and 1,127 parents of sufferers.

One student, 15, told the researchers: “This pretty much ruins my life, I have depression because of it and I don’t want to tell anyone. 

“I’ve had this problem since I was 12. I feel like I can never be normal. For a long time I wouldn’t even hang out with people because I feared I would pee myself and they would find out. I hate it so much I just need it to stop.”

One in five of the parents said that they felt unable to speak to school staff about their child’s difficulty and that poor school toilet facilities contributed to their child’s continence problem.

The parents raised concerns about “poor knowledge on continence issues and a lack of clear school procedures”.

Around one in 12 children suffers with an ongoing continence problem, which is often linked to underlying bladder or bowel issues such as urinary tract infections, an irritable bladder, developmental delays, or chronic constipation. 

Jenny Perez, director of ERIC, said: “Many of the parents who took part in our survey said that their child’s school does not understand or prioritise their child’s continence issue, and that as a result the child’s health is suffering. 

“For example, children with these issues need to drink plenty of fluid during the day, and be allowed to use school toilets when they need to in order to manage their problem effectively. It’s also vital for bullying to be identified by school staff and dealt with proactively.

“Without the right support and care, continence issues can have a serious impact on a child’s learning, development and wellbeing.”

ERIC (Education and Resources for Improving Childhood Continence) has produced a toolkit, called Right to Go, which is aimed at helping schools to improve the management of these problems. It is free to download at 


Please view our Terms and Conditions before leaving a comment.

Change the CAPTCHA codeSpeak the CAPTCHA code
Claim Free Subscription