LONDON — School attendance is important. That being said, at a certain point sending a sick child to school can put other children at risk of becoming ill. That’s why a recent survey is raising so many eyebrows: seven out of ten parents say they have sent their child (between the ages of 3-16) to attend school even when they knew they were sick.
When asked why they would send a sick child into school, most of the 2,000 British parents of children ages 3-16 who participated in the survey blame their actions on pressure at work, while others listed the school’s strict attendance rules.
According to the survey, commissioned by hygiene company Essity, six in 10 parents of kids have even sent their child to school with a contagious infection, such as a cold or stomach bug. Furthermore, more than a third of respondents believe their child had spread an illness to other children after being sent to school while unwell.
It seems parents are willing to do just about anything to make sure their child attends school; nearly one in four admitted that they had asked their child to lie about their health in order to attend school!
“Juggling childcare with work can be difficult at the best of times, but when a child is unexpectedly sick, it can be a real challenge working out how to keep them off school and manage your job or workload,” says Essity public health manager Liam Mynes in a statement. “However, an unwell child can cause real issues for the school and lead to an illness affecting more children, and teachers too.”
Regarding specific ailments, 70% of parents have sent their child to school with a cold, while 17% have insisted their child go to school while suffering from diarrhea or vomiting symptoms. Another 14% sent their child to school with chicken pox, as well as 22% with an ear infection, and 19% with a viral infection.
Besides pressure at work and strict attendance policies, nearly three in 10 parents say they had sent their sick child to school because they absolutely couldn’t afford to miss another day of work. Interestingly, more than one in five parents admit they worry what their co-workers would think of them if they stayed home to care for their sick children.
Meanwhile, more than a quarter of parents say they had sent their sick child to school because their son or daughter really didn’t want to miss something important, such as a field trip.
Often times, the sick child doesn’t make it through a full school day; 64% of parents who had sent their child to school while unwell ended up getting a phone call to pick them up early.
Despite how quick some parents are to send their ill children to school, 51% still have concerns about the bugs or illnesses their child may pick up from another student. And 31% often worry about the level of cleanliness inside the school building.
It isn’t just children who are suffering through commitments while sick; the average parent attends four full days of work while sick, according to the survey. Four in 10 worry that they “aren’t sick enough” to take time off, 29% say their workload is too big to take off work just because they are sick, and 19% believe they already take too much time off for other matters.
The survey was conducted by OnePoll.