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Students as old as 11 still aren't potty-trained, Swiss teachers complain: 'Kids get conditioned to diapers'
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Students as old as 11 still aren't potty-trained, Swiss teachers complain: 'Kids get conditioned to diapers'

A stunning report out of Switzerland indicates that students as old as 11 who have no identified medical condition or special needs regularly attend school while wearing diapers because they have never been trained to use a toilet.

This week, the Swiss outlet Bild published an article discussing the alarming phenomenon, and Insider translated that article into English. According to Insider's translation of Bild, Swiss teachers have become increasingly frustrated that some of their students have not been potty-trained. "Some parents let [toilet training] slide, because diapers are a convenient relief," claimed Margrit Stamm, an educational scientist.

Though most parents might find changing diapers anything but "convenient," Stamm explained that advancements in diapers mean that they can now be worn "like normal underwear." So parents do not necessarily see diaper-wearing as "a problem," and "kids," still growing older every day, then "get conditioned to diapers."

She also indicated that some parents turn to diapers when they prefer to sleep in or for long trips because they want to spare themselves the disruption that potty-training so often is. But she warned that such an approach "sends a totally wrong message."

Most parents begin potty-training their children sometime between 18 months and 2 years, and many preschools and child care centers require kids to be toilet-trained before they can be admitted. But sadly, too many parents in Switzerland have apparently neglected this basic duty. Rita Messmer, a child development expert cited by Bild, claimed that the number of untrained kids has "skyrocketed" in recent years and that she has even worked on potty training with an 11-year-old child in her practice.

And the children and their families are not the only ones affected by the lack of toilet training. Some teachers have expressed exasperation that they now have to attend to soiled diapers in addition to their other responsibilities.

"Parents have a responsibility to make sure their school-aged kids aren't wearing diapers any more," said Dagmar Rösler, the head of the Swiss Federation of Teachers. "When 11-year-olds come to school in diapers, that's a worrying trend. Teachers aren't there to change their students' diapers. That's crossing a line."

Lest American parents breathe a sigh of relief that such "a worrying trend" isn't happening here, a report from a president of a teachers' union in Buffalo, New York, indicates that it is. In 2019, Phil Rumore, the president of the Buffalo Teachers Federation, claimed that at least 43 students in his area were not properly potty-trained.

Rumore noted that the majority of those 43 students were either in pre-K or kindergarten, but said some were as old as 7. "I'm not blaming the parents," he said.

"Because in some cases we have an autistic child, or we have a child with emotional problems or physical problems."

Still, Rumore insisted that it's a problem in desperate need of a solution. "It's absolutely critical to have somebody that's trained to help and to work with the parents," he stated, "because once again you have to focus on what's the best for the child."

Rumore had it that teachers and parents working together to help students learn to use the toilet on their own is the "best" approach. He suggested that districts hire teacher aides willing to do the dirty work and who are fully "immunized" to do so. He also said that such paraprofessionals should receive added compensation "because it's something that ... is beyond a job title of anybody to do it."

"It's something that should have been done many years ago and has to be done now, because it seems to be getting to be more of a problem," he said.

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