Reducing Bullying With School Washroom Design

Reducing Bullying With School Washroom Design

Bullying is a long-standing problem in society, and no environment is more worrisome than schools. Millions are affected by bullying and the question asked by concerned parents is always, “what are you doing to prevent it?” There are many steps that can be taken to actively prevent and reduce incidents of bullying which most schools will no doubt be aware of. However, with carefully considered school washroom design, you can reduce the risk of students being bullied even further.

The washroom is an area in schools renowned for bullying. It’s a quite, remote and discreet area and this creates the kind of environment where bullying and anti-social behavior thrives. The school washroom is also an area that's often hard for teachers to monitor effectively - compounding the problem even more.

Now, bullying in school toilets is nothing new. It’s been happening in that environment for many, many years. It is not by any means a Millennial problem, but today we do have Millennial solutions – most of which revolve around innovative new washroom designs.

Full height cubicles
This might sound trivial, but full height washroom cubicles are known to help prevent bullying in schools. A bank of several washroom cubicles, when installed full height, delivers a very slick, clean finish and stops people peering over the top, throwing things over the top, or interfering with users of other cubicles.

Full height cubicles are available in Solid Grade Laminate (SGL) and High-Pressure Laminate (HPL) as both these materials can be custom made to fit your exact washroom dimensions – that’s width as well as height. The increased height gives complete privacy to users and there is no need to be concerned for safety if, for instance, a student passed out on the toilet, as safety locks can still be installed.

Both SGL and HPL are both significantly more durable that your traditional Melamine Faced Chipboard (MFC) – a common material that has a shorter usable life and is not water resistant, meaning it absorbs water, causing the panels to swell, weaken and fail. Toilet Cubicle Transfers

Unisex washrooms
There are a lot of conflicting opinions on unisex washrooms and a quick Google search will show you thousands of them. Shared washrooms, or ‘gender neutral washrooms’, can be an excellent way to help prevent bullying. These work by installing two banks of cubicles in the same large open plan room – one set of cubicles is for boys, and one for girls. There are then wash basins in the middle of the room to be shared by all users. In this scenario, bullying is prevented by two main factors. Firstly, the washroom is much busier as both sexes are using the washroom and secondly, students may be less likely to hang out in the washroom once they have used the facilities.

It’s well noted that teenagers can be incredibly self-conscious, particularly with all the physical changes that are going on in those tentative years. With this in mind, some may wonder if a mixed washroom environment is actually a good idea. However, these self-conscious issues arise in same-sex washrooms as well, not to mention in day to day activities during the school day.

For those concerned on this issue, unisex washrooms can be designed to include separate male and female cubicle rooms that are both accessed from a unisex hand wash area – a comfortable middle ground that still increases footfall.

Unisex washrooms have caused quite a stir in some schools, yet they continue to be installed across the UK due to several benefits. As well as the advantage of it helping to reduce incidents of bullying, shared washrooms also mean fewer washrooms within premises and as such, equals less cleaning. This style of washroom can also be monitored by any teacher, regardless of their gender, and hygiene in unisex washrooms is generally considered to improve. 

The outer washroom door could be outdated…
The outer door to a washroom can be redundant in traditional washrooms depending on how they're laid out. If there are urinals in the boys washroom, then a carefully placed partition wall – which is most often installed anyway, means users are shielded from any passers-by, but with no door, teachers or other pupils are more likely to be able to hear what’s being said or what’s going on in the washroom and antisocial behaviour is diminished.

In a shared washroom, the outer door is completely redundant and can either be removed, or replaced with a transparent door.

In summary
With well-planned washroom design, incidents of bullying in school washrooms can be reduced. Full height cubicles deliver more privacy to individual users, protecting them from overhead confrontations. Unisex washrooms should also be given careful consideration as with the increased footfall from both genders in the washroom, bullies are dissuaded from acting. You’ll also find a number of other benefits to a unisex washroom including not needing an outer door. If you feel the need to keep a barrier between the washroom and public areas of your school corridors, then perhaps opt for a clear door so that they can easily be monitored. Bullies like quiet, closed off areas – so combat this with open plan, busy environments that can be monitored easily.

As always, our team are at the end of the telephone for all your queries and questions and have a wealth of knowledge they’re happy to share with you. So if you need some guidance, or would like to talk over your options, you can give them a call on 01202 650900.

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