"I will never, ever let my son use male public toilets."

This morning, an 11-year-old boy was sexually assaulted in a cinema toilet in Melbourne’s north-east while his mother waited outside. It sparked a discussion among our readers: what can parents do when their sons need to use public bathrooms…

I like men, I do. I’m married to one.

I have two sons who will grow up to be men. But until they are well into their teens, I will not allow them to use male public toilets.

And a sign like this? Well, I’d just ignore it.

Try to stop me. A boy of seven is not a man! He is a vulnerable child. And he needs to be protected.

The risk of sexual assault, abduction or even worse, is just too great. A few years ago I read about a child who was followed to the toilets in a shopping centre and then raped and murdered. And I’m certain that many less serious cases just don’t make the news. No shopping centre or cinema chain want anyone to know that there are predators lurking. But there are. It’s a fact of life that’s been hidden for far too long and as a parent, my only job is to protect my son.

So like many mothers, I take them with me to the women’s toilets whenever we’re out in public. And if my husband is with them, he sends them into the women’s toilets and waits outside.

Right now, this isn’t too much of a problem. My youngest son is only five and my eldest is eight. They don’t complain about having to go to the ladies room.

Occasionally my husband says he gets a funny look when our eldest goes into the women’s toilets, particularly from old ladies but nobody has ever actually said anything negative to us. I think people understand that the safety of children is the most important thing.

When we are at the park, at a shopping centre, at the movies we always take them to the women’s toilets. The only time they are allowed to use the men’s toilets is at their school where of course it’s not a men’s toilet, it’s a boys’ toilet. I’m OK with boys toilets, just not men.

I don’t want them to be in cubicles when they can be followed in by a stranger. And even if my husband is with them, I don’t want them to see men urinating with their penises out. Children should never see adult penises unless it is their father in the shower.

It’s just not an OK environment for children. I fail to see any problem with boys being in the women’s toilets. Everyone is doing their business behind a closed cubicle door. There is no nudity on display — unlike in mens’ toilets. It’s private and discreet.

What we need more of is family restrooms. Like disabled toilets. Where mothers AND fathers can go and help their kids go to the toilet safely and discreetly.

 Do you think it is acceptable to take children into female toilets? 

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