Raymond McCurdy's 6-year-old daughter was ashamed and in tears when she got off the bus, and that was when her dad noticed there was something off about what she was wearing — a T-shirt, just barely long enough to cover the girl's school-issued underwear, which she was given after having an accident earlier that day. She carried her soiled clothing in a plastic bag.
There are a lot of familiar-sounding things here. If you have a child, even a school-age child, chances are pretty good that at some point along the way, they will have an accident where they wet their pants. You will have the pleasure of greeting your child at pickup with a plastic bag in hand, and it is very likely that they will be wearing faded community undies and a pair of too-big or too-small mismatched pants from the lost and found.
But at least they will be wearing pants.
The 6-year-old apparently raised her hand to use the bathroom while class was in session, something that happens a lot since, according to her dad, "She has medical issues, and when she has to go, she has to go." Unfortunately she was ignored and told to wait, which is how she ended up having an accident.
McCurdy was rightfully upset, feared for his daughter's safety, and when he called the school to see how this could have happened, he got a glib brush-off response, the dad says. "We asked her why my daughter was sent home in just panties and a T-shirt, and she begins to tell me, 'We thought she had a long enough shirt to be able to put her on the school bus and send her home.'"
Absolutely not OK.
Six is a strange and wonderful age. Kids are discovering all kinds of new things about the world and new things about themselves too.
It brings with it a heightened sense of self-consciousness, and kids start to develop a sense of modesty. It's why they'll want to change alone, shout at you if you barge in on them in the bathroom and ask to start using the stall solo out in public. This kind of body autonomy should not be ignored and definitely should not be violated by a parent or a school.
Most children would not be OK with being asked to take a ride with a bus full of their peers in only their underpants and a T-shirt. It is in fact the stuff that school-age nightmares are made of — that sense of exposure and the humiliation it brings.
If your child needs frequent bathroom breaks at school, they aren't abnormal, especially around the age of 6. A study published in The Journal of Urology says that as many as 15 percent of kids wet their pants at school and that restricted bathroom breaks should only be an option once kids hit third grade.
Despite that information, a third of kids were told to wait when they asked to use the bathroom (sound familiar?), and 89 percent of teachers thought a bathroom break every hour was excessive (it's not!).
If your child is one of the many that need frequent bathroom breaks, it can be helpful to talk to their teachers and request that they be allowed to use the restroom when nature calls to avoid accidents. It's also important to remember to pack extra sets of clothing, even after you think it's no longer an issue. It's like we tell our kids: Accidents do happen!
McCurdy, for his part, has hired a lawyer, while the school administration says it'll be looking into what went wrong in this particular case. I think at the end of the day, the outraged dad said it best:
"They make me send her to school in clothes to their expectations. Why couldn't you send my kid home in clothes to your expectations?"
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