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Does asking a pre-school teacher to administer a suppository cross boundaries?
A pre-school teacher has to deal with all sorts of gross functions related to little bodies: snot, vomit and lice. A local teacher was taken aback. though, when a parent handed her suppositories and asked her to give one to the parent’s child if the child’s temperature became raised. The teacher’s immediate reaction was “but how would the child cope with a teacher doing that?” The mother insisted that the child would be fine with it.

In this case, the child had been sick for a few days, but had now recovered enough to return to school.

Suppositories are torpedo-shaped plugs which are pushed into the rectum (or vagina/urethra). They are used to treat many symptoms of illness, including fever.

What are the rules?

There don’t appear to be guidelines on teachers being required to administer suppositories in SA. In some US states, teachers are required by law to do so (when necessary). Some schools insist that only a registered nurse may administer the treatment. Use of a finger glove or surgical glove is mandatory.

Schools and pre-schools require permission from parents (by law) for the administration of medicines, although a visibly sick child will usually be sent home.

Yes, no, maybe or GROSS!

When asked if they thought it was ok to ask a pre-school teacher to give a suppository to a sick child, our Facebook friends responded:
  • “I'm a pre-school teacher with level2-Fist aid training. So i handle sick kids daily. Sick kids must stay home& only in an emergency case i will do it.” Leaticia
  • “It’s simple, I would let my child's teacher do it yes rather that then for my child to end up in hospital an end up having seizes due to extremely high temp” Zayaan
  • “I'm a teacher for the 2-3 year age group. If your child is that sick they shouldn't be at school with all the germs. Their immunity is already low and you're just exposing them to a whole lot more. It's also not an ideal environment for healing. School is for teaching not for administering medication” Bronwyn
  • “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, would keep my child home.” Rochelle
  • “No ways, they rather call me, ill pick the child up if the temp is too high. But why send a child to day care if the child is having fever?” Netshivhera
  • “No way! Will leave work immediately to fetch my child” Fairuz
  • “I saw this happen today at my child’s school... the teacher expressed her discomfort [at being asked to give a suppository] and concern with doing it saying she was not comfortable and he [the father] went off at her telling her he EXPECTED her to do it. The teacher was clearly very upset and my heart goes out to her. What happens when a parent like that starts yelling molestation all over the place?” Catherine
Some children are used to getting treated with medicine via suppository, and some can even administer the suppository to themselves. One issue which is raised is that of kids who have been taught that their bottom is one of the ‘private places’ which nobody except mom or dad may touch.

What do you think?

Is it ok to ask a teacher to administer a suppository to a sick child?

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