Study: Half of All UK Parents Send Sick Kids to School

Bupa has revealed that fever, diarrhoea or vomiting are not enough to stop British parents sending their offspring to school. New research from the Bupa 'How Are You Britain?' report reveals half of all parents in the UK admit to sending their children to school or nursery when they are feeling poorly and this isn't just limited to the sniffles, with 17% saying contagious illnesses such as diarrhoea and vomiting (13%) are not reason enough to keep their children at home.

The number one reason cited by two thirds of parents for sending poorly kids to school was the belief they would start to perk up once there, followed by 19% not having other childcare options and then work commitments (18%). In a vicious cycle, parents are sending their kids into class when unwell but over two thirds (68%) also complain that bugs caught from classmates are the number one reason for their little ones falling ill.

Almost a third of all parents (30%) say they have experienced feelings of guilt when their young ones are sick, and feel that they are somehow to blame. Topping the table for parental guilt is concern that their kids are not getting enough sleep (23%) followed closely by their diet not being balanced and nutritious enough (17%). A further 14% of parents worry they don't dress their children appropriately for the weather.

Guilt around lifestyle issues aside, many parents don't feel equipped to decide whether poorly kids should be sent to school, and official medical guidance, it seems, is not getting through. In fact, two in five would keep their children home if they had conjunctivitis, which the Health Protection Agency advises is unnecessary.

Bupa Health and Wellbeing medical director, Dr. Annabel Bentley, said: "Parents should keep children with vomiting and diarrhoea off school or nursery for 48 hours to protect other children's health. For conjunctivitis, which is usually viral, medical guidance is that a child can go to school or nursery."

The findings also revealed that for over half (55%) of parents the biggest pressure they faced was how to devote enough time to their children. With a further 38% concerned about their work life balance.

Notes to editors:

These finding are taken from the third chapter of the Bupa 'How Are You Britain?' report, a year-long study using a variety of research techniques to understand the ongoing health and well being of the nation. Research for this chapter was conducted amongst a nationally representative sample of 1,042 parents by Fly Research between 27th and 31st August 2010.


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