Primary school 'excludes' girl with period

by RNZ / 07 June, 2017

Call to introduce health education and sanitary bins at earlier age.

A 10-year-old girl was sent home from her primary school because it did not have a sanitary disposal unit for her to use, a public health sociologist says.

The girl only returned after her family donated a unit for her to use to dispose of her sanitary products.

Sarah Donovan, a research fellow at the University of Otago's public health department, told Nine to Noon the principal suggested the girl could go on the contraceptive pill.

"She was pretty distraught because being 10, that's pretty young to get your period anyway and she was just kind of coping with the self-management of that and then had the kind of added stigma of being excluded from school," she said.

"And the other suggestion from the school principal was that she be put on the contraceptive pill which the mother was also upset about," Dr Donovan said.

Sarah Donovan. Photo: University of Otago

"We don't collect this data in New Zealand about age of first menstruation which is pretty unbelievable really."

She said the way she had been treated had a lasting effect on the girl.

"She's only been having her period for a few months but sometimes is still choosing to stay home now because she doesn't feel confident with self-management and feels a bit of a stigma about using the bin at the school now," she said.

Dr Donovan said health education and sanitary bins may need to be provided at an earlier age.

The school may not have said she was being excluded, but it had the same impact, she said.  

Children can only be excluded on behavioral grounds, not because of illness or disability, she said.

A Wellington secondary school student, Molly, who was also 10 when she started her periods, said her primary school did not have sanitary units either and she went home when she had her period.

She said she was taking a lot of time off school, and the school introduced bins after her family and others asked for them.

"It wasn't a priority so they hadn't even thought of that," she said.

"During periods all through primary school I would just go home.

"Because it was a really small school, the teachers were all aware of what was happening but they didn't really seem to mind.

"There were bins provided afterwards so then our attendance rates increased."

Molly said the girl sent home may be finding it tough.

"You are starting to deal with it yourself. You don't even know your body once you start that young and you are being told you have to stay away because of it.

"Personally I don't know how that would feel but I imagine it would be pretty nasty."

 

This article was originally published by RNZ.

Latest

Colin Hogg: Why my mates matter (and keep on ending up in my books)
102594 2019-02-21 00:00:00Z Books

Colin Hogg: Why my mates matter (and keep on endin…

by Colin Hogg

With his second book about Sam Hunt proving a hit, Colin Hogg ponders why so much of his writing career has been inspired by his mates.

Read more
Vote for your favourite dish in the 2019 Peugeot People’s Choice Award
102345 2019-02-21 00:00:00Z Top 50 Restaurants

Vote for your favourite dish in the 2019 Peugeot P…

by Metro

Vote for your favourite dish in the 2019 Peugeot People’s Choice Award and be in to win dinner for two.

Read more
Death of the gods: The woeful response to kauri dieback disease
102578 2019-02-21 00:00:00Z Planet

Death of the gods: The woeful response to kauri di…

by Bob Harvey

The closer you get to a kauri, the more you realise you are looking at one of the wonders of the planet.

Read more
National’s failure to grasp climate change a major challenge for NZ
102598 2019-02-21 00:00:00Z Planet

National’s failure to grasp climate change a major…

by Steve Abel

National's Bluegreen wing are set to hold their annual conference this weekend. Greenpeace’s Steve Abel will be there to challenge the party.

Read more
The native Mandarin speaker who's translating te reo on television
102606 2019-02-20 22:10:47Z Education

The native Mandarin speaker who's translating te r…

by Vomle Springford

Lidu Gong first started learning te reo in bed.

Read more
Win a double pass to Everybody Knows
102573 2019-02-20 13:19:44Z Win

Win a double pass to Everybody Knows

by The Listener

Starring Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem, Everybody Knows is a gripping new thriller about the fissures and fault lines that can tear a family apart.

Read more
Fall into a beautiful abyss at this must-see dance show in Auckland
102571 2019-02-20 12:12:54Z Where to go in Auckland

Fall into a beautiful abyss at this must-see dance…

by Metro

A contemporary dance show that marries dystopian anxiety with raw energy is a must-see at the Auckland Arts Festival.

Read more
Climate change declaration 'politically charged' – Thames-Coromandel mayor
102563 2019-02-20 09:39:08Z Planet

Climate change declaration 'politically charged' –…

by Kate Gudsell

A push to get local authorities to sign up to a declaration on climate change is "politically charged and driven", the Thames-Coromandel mayor says.

Read more