Teachers Sound Alarm on Trend of Students as Old as 11 Still Wearing Diapers

Teachers in Switzerland recently reported a worrying number of students, some as old as 11, still coming to school in diapers because they never learned how to use the toilet.

In Switzerland, some children begin school at age four, so it is not uncommon for them to still be wearing diapers. However, they are not the problem that many teachers in the European country are reportedly facing these days. According to multiple sources, students as old as 11 years old are coming to school in diapers, and teachers are expected to clean and change them if necessary. Apparently, the problem has become widespread enough that one headmaster in Aargau is organizing events to inform parents that children have to be ‘dry’ when they return to school after the summer holiday, while another school is putting out flyers to inform parents that teachers are not responsible for changing schoolchildren’s diapers.

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“Parents have a duty to ensure that their school-age children no longer wear diapers,” Dagmar Rösler, President of the umbrella organization for teachers in Switzerland, told 20min.  “When 11-year-olds come to school in diapers, that’s a worrying development. Teachers are not there to change their students’ diapers. That is going too far.”

Rösler pointed out the importance of distinguishing between children with physical problems and those impacted by psychological trauma or parents neglect, and emphasized teachers’ role in mitigating such problems. The latter should never blame the child, but instead, reach out to the parents, explain the situation and hold them accountable.

Swiss psychotherapist Felix Hof recalled a boy who came to his practice and still needed diapers at the age of seven, due to the trauma caused by a family conflict. He also pointed out that such children often end up being bullied or teased by their peers, especially after their situation becomes known in schools. Gym classes or swimming are two instances where the diapers become almost impossible to conceal.

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According to an article in the SonntagsZeitung, more and more parents of primary school children are putting out ads for diaper-changing staff, and the increase in sales of large diaper sizes in Switzerland is another worrying sign.

“The diapers are becoming more and more comfortable and can be worn like normal underpants, this is how children are conditioned to the diaper,” educationalist Margrit Stamm warned, referring to parents who have their kids in diapers for long trips or when sleeping. “This is a completely wrong signal!”

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