Friday 28 January 2011


Does Child Protection actually endanger our children?

Strange and frustrating week, guys. As I've mentioned before, Maia has had recurrent Urinary Tract Infections and this week we had an ultrasound and a renal consultation to discuss the issue. Thankfully the ultrasound showed that there is no physiological reason for her infections, and neither was there damage from her previous infections. Good news. What they did say, however, that the lab results from her previous infections showed that they were caused by poor wiping technique, i.e. E Coli (!) bacteria from the back was making it's way into her urethra. Armed with a lot of information about how to prevent future infections (most importantly good hygiene), I spoke to her nursery and asked for their help in making sure she always wipes properly.

Apparently, Child Protection guidelines prevent the nursery staff from physically helping the children in the toilet to protect the staff from allegations of improper touching. They have agreed to encourage her to wipe properly, from a distance. Which is something. But does anyone else see the irony here? That a Child Protection policy that forces children to control their own hygiene (at three years old) might endanger them when they aren't able to do a good enough job? I've been taking advice from the council this morning, and have another meeting with the nursery manager next week. Maybe a compromise will be possible, I'm not giving up yet.

What do you think?


  1. Oh Amanda, so sorry to hear they are being difficult over this. I wonder if they would show you the specific guidelines which are preventing them from helping where there is a medical need to assist. They are perfectly able to wear latex gloves and hand wash to prevent passing on infection. If a child had wet themselves they would need to change them so how is this a great leap different?

    There are some discussions here:|countryGB&rlz=1B3GGLL_en-GBGB382GB382&tbs=ctr:countryGB&source=hp&q=pre-school+guidelines+child+toilet+wiping&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&pbx=1&fp=8ed8eed887714adf
    which may shed some light on how others have dealt with this problem. I wonder if they would help if there was a Dr's letter advising that it was necessary?

    *awkward* hugs, Kat xx

  2. How ridiculous! It's so tragic that policies that have to be put in place to protect children can also end up harming them. I do hope you're able to reach some kind of compromise (maybe only her keyworker doing it or something?). We've got all this to come as the toddler starts nursery next month...

  3. they have to wipe babys bums when doing a nappy so whats the issue with helping a 3 year old!

  4. that is ust plain silly - i'm a childminder and of course i'd do this if a Mother asked me too, lots of kids don't wipe their own bums at that age, in fact i'd say most of them still need help.
    i'd suggest arranging a meeting with the nursery.

  5. Certainly my three-year-old was assisted in cleaning up when she needed it, in her nursery, three years ago.

  6. Poor Maia - UTI's are Not Fun.

    I think it's slightly ludicrous. Actually, more than slightly. As the nursery staff are caring for your child when you are not there, surely their remit is to basically do the things you would do if you were there. And that would include ensuring she is properly cleaned after the toilet.

    Basically - if someone dodgy wanted to do something, a piece of health and safety legislation isn't going to stop them. Under-3s have to be wiped when being changed (in our nursery this is done in a wee side room off the main nursery room with no door so the other staff can see in - it's private enough for the child and no-one wandering past can see in but it's not so closed off that a staff member couldn't be checked easily), how is helping a child in the toilet really any different?

    Good luck with it I hope you manage to get the issue resolved with the nursery.

  7. I think the wording says it all: "to protect the staff against allegations of improper touching." This isn't about protecting kids. I can certainly sympathize with staff afraid of being accused, but to call it "child protection" is pretty rich. A world gone mad, driven there by a crazy minority of parents who see a boogie man around every corner.

    I hope you can get there with lessons and encouragement "from afar" :(

  8. I don't know if its a Scottish thing, but Trin is in pre-school in Portsmouth and they wipe her bum for her if she needs them too (and because she doesn't like to do it herself!)

  9. I do think the world has gone a bit crazy! Nursery staff will change babies nappies and my little girl has just told me they help the younger ones with wiping - so I really do not see the problem.

    I hope you get somewhere with this.

    Mich x

  10. This seems madness to me, at the pre-school and nursery (both state funded) that my child attends, the children are encouraged to wipe their bottoms, but if they cant then, they don gloves and help. There is no major issue, I wonder if there is any point/ chance of getting the doctor to phone or write to them to explain the importance for your child?

  11. Oh poor Maia:(

    Since Kathryn stopped going to nursery and started school we've had issues with wiping - from which I take it that her nursery were happy to help her clean up after using the toilet. And indeed, we're now in the position of having a test done to see if Kathryn's "tummy aches" are actually a uti or something else. I shall check with her and try and change the way she wipes if it's wrong.

    Hope it all goes well.

  12. Was directed to your blog by a friend's tweet. Really sorry to read this, a little off-topic from your question but wanted to recommend D-mannose to you for your daughter. Realise this makes me sound like an agent for the supplier, but believe me I'm not.

    I suffered from recurrent urinary tract infections which have led to several very bad kidney infections (I had ultrasound and internal examinations too which found no cause) until D-mannose was recommended to me. It's a natural occuring sugar which you take in powder (diluted in water) or tablet form.

    The websites selling the stuff say that most bladder infections are caused by ecoli attaching itself to the bladder wall. (I understand that Ecoli grows in the bladder so wouldn't necessarily be getting there by bad bottom wiping technique). When you take D-mannose the bugs in the urine are attracted to it and leave the bladder wall, then get flushed out when you urinate. Anyway, however it works, it has worked really well for me and is 100% safe for children (and animals too).

    I usually buy it from (but there are other suppliers out there). You probably also already know but it's recommended that you cut out/cut down on wheat and sugar if you have repeated UTIs. Apparently these feed the Ecoli so it continues to grow. Also if you're taking D-mannose (or indeed if you have a UTI) it is recommended that you don't take cranberry or drink cranberry juice. Cranberry is said to just coat the ecoli bacteria but not actually flush it out, so it may temporarily provide a reprieve in symptoms but the infections will keep coming back again.

    Anyway, I'm sure you've tried everything so forgive me for chipping in, but really wanted to recommend this to you as it has worked so well for me.

  13. When I worked in a school as a reception TA we weren't allowed to do help with toileting either. One little boy had (did?) really bad diarrhoea all over one of the cubicles and all we could do was hand him toilet paper and spare clothes to sort himself out, it was mad!! In my experience schools and council run nurseries are more likely to be over the top about this sort of thing. I work in a private nursery now and there are no such restrictions. I'm fully aware of the need to protect young children from abuse but surely to not help them when needed with their personal hygiene could be classed as neglect?

  14. auntninn is right - the reaction of the nursery is not about child protection, it's about staff protection. the fact that they are using the language of child protection as a cover is something that we're familiar with. i probably don't have much helpful suggestion to make; in my world we start with 'show me the law that gives you the power to state what you do' but that's a little extreme for you! i would think to start with local authority guidelines, nursery statements, and so on. but tbh i'd have to be really motivated to do that, considering that the relationship with them may be affected. really, my first impulse would be to say 'service not working', then pick up my child and walk away.

  15. Ooh, I agree that's ridiculous! Maybe you could do a notarized letter saying you waive your right to sue them if they agree to help her! Or more likely, get the doctor to write a note saying she must have help. That should do it.

  16. I think it's child protection gone mad. There is of course an issue with people who refuse to allow anyone else, I.e. Teaching staff etc, to touch their child in this way and it's so very easy these days to pop to the solicitors and start suing proceedings. Unfortunately, it is these parents who have ruined it for the rest of us, and even though I can see both sides, a child of three years old is most probably incapable of wiping themselves thoroughly. As you have had medical intervention on this subject, there should be no reason why the staff are refusing to wipe your child. Perhaps you could offer to write a short note ending with your signature and ask that they treat that as your confirmed permission. Cases like these should, in my opinion, be treated with individuality. If a member of staff feels the parents are capable of suing at the drop of a hat then I can see their point. But if they are sure the parent is happy for the action to take place, then there really should be no reason.

    It's the peodophiles like the recent nursery female staff member (can't remember name) who has contributed to this very difficult ruling and has taken away trust and bonding of parents, teachers, staff and children.

    Keep us posted.
    CJ xx

  17. yes, nurseries often say they won't help a child with their toileting. perhaps it's a scotland thing.

  18. The world has gone mad! In order to protect staff (and children), why can't management insist that there should be 2 members of staff present if such help is needed. I know that doesn't remove all risks but, it does show they have done a risk assessment and minimised it!

  19. It makes me so angry that the litigation culture we seem to be adopting results in such a ridiculous policy. If only people would take a practical approach to legislation and policy rather than going completely mad then the world would be a better place. 'Black and white' attitudes like this drive me mad. I really hope they see sense. Good luck with these idiots! x

  20. I have never known a 3 year old who doesn't need help with this.

    It doesn't say much for the state of society at the moment does it.

    I hope this gets resolved soon, this can't continue.