Why locked bathrooms do more harm than good

Why locked bathrooms do more harm than good

Esther Jean-Charles, Staff Writer

Last year the Stamford High School administration began locking some of the bathrooms during the school day. I believe this is wrong. Bathrooms are a necessity for students, and with close to two thousand students in the school, locking bathrooms takes away easy access for students to take care of themselves. Adding to the issue, many teachers also enforce a new rule that only allows students out of the class for five minutes. Under normal conditions, this rule would not be too bad because there are bathrooms located throughout the building and are close to all classrooms. However, when some of the bathrooms are locked, students may need to go to an entirely different floor, or the opposite side of the floor. A lot of the time, this takes longer than five minutes, which could result in an issue with the teacher. 

When a student takes longer for a bathroom break, it is also often immediately assumed that they are doing something they should not be, whether it be vaping, drug use, or walking around with friends. In many cases, though, the bathroom is just full, the bathroom is locked, or a student just needs more time to do their business. The reason that the bathrooms began getting locked was because of the kids who used the bathroom for the wrong reasons. However, only a small minority of students actually do this. Punishing the whole school for this is unfair to the students who behave appropriately. Locking bathrooms would have been a smart tactic to get kids to start using the bathrooms properly only if all students truly cared about each other. The idea for locking the bathrooms was that “if everyone gets punished, then those who are doing wrong will feel bad for everyone else getting punished and they’ll stop.” However, misbehaving adolescents have proven that they don’t really care and that they will always find a way to break the rules for their own gratification.

It is clear that administrators are relentlessly trying to stop students from ditching class and participating in vaping and drug use not only because school is the wrong place to do it, but also for the sake of students’ health. But locking the bathrooms is not the solution. Students who are truly trying to use the bathroom have very limited options and are often forced to use the same bathrooms where students are vaping and smoking. This can make them uncomfortable and scared of being wrongly accused by an administrator that they are involved with the trouble going on in the bathroom. 

Instead of creating a system that negatively affects those who don’t deserve it, the administrators should find a solution that will only punish those who deserve to be punished. For example, weed and vape detectors can be installed in the school, with cages around them so that students cannot remove them. These detectors detect changes in air quality and can alert someone in the main office, who can then have nearby security search the bathroom. This way, those who want to use the bathroom can, and the administrators will not have to worry about kids vaping or smoking. Melrose High School decreased vaping in their school by installing Zeptive, an air detector, and now there are fewer kids vaping in the school and students feel safer using the bathroom. 

In addition to the new detectors, security should be allocated so that they can catch kids quickly. I believe that two security guards per floor, one male, one female, would help significantly. In the new building, there should be one female and one male guard for the entire building, since there are only three bathrooms for each to cover and they aren’t that far from each other. If a security guard witnesses a suspicious group of students going into a bathroom, they should monitor them to make sure they are doing what they are supposed to be doing. Teachers should also be required to write full names on passes so that if the student has a pass, they can quickly be written up and then receive further punishment. If the student doesn’t have a pass, then they should be brought to the office where they will be forced to show some sort of identification to receive a punishment; if they try and refuse, they can get a punishment that will be added to the punishment they will receive once identified. Just threatening this procedure to students can get them to stop misusing bathrooms, but it would also be a great plan to follow through with if students “aren’t afraid” of the consequences. 

Proper protocols should be implemented so that locked bathrooms can be opened up again and rule-abiding students can gain accessibility to them. I have high hopes that such strategies will decrease the issues of being out of class too long and of some students using bathrooms inappropriately. Most importantly, this would make the Stamford High School community more fair, safer, and more comfortable for all students and staff.