High school student with extreme BO

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Caesar753, May 27, 2009.

  1. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    May 27, 2009

    One of my students (high school) has extremely severe body odor. This student smells awful. The student's hair is never combed. The student frequently wears the same sweatshirt or jacket for several days in a row.

    I've met the student's parents and siblings on a number of occasions, and I don't think this is an issue of parental neglect or anything like that.

    The student's classmates are very polite and I've never heard them say hurtful things. Even so, the situation makes me uncomfortable, emotionally AND physically (really...it's a terrible smell). I feel like I need to address the issue with the student. The problem is that I don't know how to address it with the student because I don't want to make the student feel bad...but at the same time, I know I would want someone to tell me, tactfully of course, if I stank.

    What should I do?

    I might delete this out of respect for the student.
     
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  3. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Wow, Cassie, that's tough. I think maybe I would ask him if everything is okay with him. Maybe give him some deodrant.
     
  4. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Would your advice change if I told you the student is a girl?
     
  5. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    No, I think I would do the same thing. It might be easier if it were. Do you know any of her siblings? Do they have the same appearance and odor?
     
  6. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I've only met the student's siblings a few times. I wouldn't say that I know them. They did not seem to have the problem, though. Neither do the parents, who are clean-cut and well-groomed.
     
  7. Miss J. Pre-K

    Miss J. Pre-K Comrade

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    This sounds like a job for the counselor/psychologist. Can you describe the situation to them and ask them to talk to the student and keep your name out of it? It would be lots easier for them to say something as they don't have to see the student every day and they're probably trained in dealing with delicate issues like this.
     
  8. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    I had this go on in my classroom this year with a male student. He would wear the same clothes several days in a row and always wore the same jacket all day year round. I started with the counselor. She went to the parents. There wasn't an issue that was preventing him from proper hygiene. Counselor spoke to the student, he told her he didn't care if he smelled. There must have been SOMEthing going on with him, but she never got to the bottom of it. I'm sorry to report that it didn't get better.

    He was a cool kid, very bright ... just couldn't stand too close. I worry about him.
     
  9. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    May 27, 2009

    We refer students to guidance in extreme situations. One year I had to invite the counselor into my room to give a hygeine speech because a good chunk of the kids in that room had problems with body odor.

    Another time the student's family had limited water, and they used it only for cooking. They rarely bathed or washed clothes. She ended up taking showers at school a couple of times a week.

    Sometimes the students dont' have many clothes, and they have to rewear them a lot.

    But sometimes people are just like that. One of my best friends from high school was not really concerned with hygeine. She was a straight A student and athlete. She got a scholarship to an excellent college. She's a doctor, and she's still not clean.
     
  10. glen

    glen Companion

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    May 27, 2009

    Or the school nurse. We had the same issue a couple of times when I worked in the lower elementary school, and the school nurse was able to handle things tactfully and discreetly.
     
  11. emmakate218

    emmakate218 Connoisseur

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    I would also second seeking help from other professionals at your school.
     
  12. SwOcean Gal

    SwOcean Gal Devotee

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    I liked the idea about having someone come in and give a presentation on hygiene and have that person offer sample deodorant and other personal care stuff. But then again this is a Latin class for high school students, so maybe that would not work. Unless you have a pretty great relationship with her that would not be hurt, I would be hesitant to broach this topic with her. Good luck. That is a tough position to be in- wanting to help her and making her aware. I would think she is aware, but just not sure how exactly to fix it.
     
  13. adventuresofJ

    adventuresofJ Comrade

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    It might work depending on what level they are at... grocery shopping, describing things in each room of the house...focusing on the bathroom because things hide in the cabinets.
     
  14. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Unfortunately, I don't think I can turn this into a hygiene lesson in Latin. Romans didn't have deodorant. :p
     
  15. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    I had a similar problem and I asked the school nurse to talk to the student. She was glad to.
     
  16. princessa48

    princessa48 Companion

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    I agree that a school nurse or guidance counselor should be called in on this. They should be the one to make a call to the girl's parents to see if they can have a hygeine talk with her at home.

    Teaching in elementary, I have had to have the school nurse talk to one child's parents because he always smelled like urine. We came to find out that he was wetting the bed every night and wasn't washing up properly afterward. It was really a wretched smell. Anyway, good luck. I hope for the girl's sake as well as the noses of all around her, that she is able to take better care of herself.
     
  17. emmakate218

    emmakate218 Connoisseur

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    :lol:
     
  18. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Guess that wouldn't really work then. :haha:
     
  19. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Cassie, you couldn't do a riff on Hygieia?

    (For the rest of you, she's the Greek goddess of health and sanitation and cleanliness.)
     
  20. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    :lol: That might work!

    I don't know that making sort of general, "you guys"ish statements will work, though. I mean, this student is like 17 years old and extremely intelligent. The student has probably heard all sorts of hygiene lectures. Either the student doesn't think that those lectures apply to her, or the student is unaware of the unpleasant odor....So it seems like the student needs to be made aware that the issue pertains to her personally.
     
  21. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I will bring the issue up with the counselor and school nurse. Thanks, everyone!
     
  22. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    That's probably the best bet; aw, shucks.
     
  23. LynnB

    LynnB Rookie

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    I had a "fragrant" student in a class one year, and other students complained to me about having to sit by him. One of our male teachers had a good rapport with the student, so I went to him and asked for help. The teacher talked to him and the situation improved (come to find out, the family had several animals in the house, and they often slept on the boy's clothes!).

    When I asked what he told the boy, the teacher said that he told him bad odor was a social issue, that it affected others around him as well as his ability to make friends (in truth, others were avoiding him). I was a bit shocked at the teacher's bluntness, and I hope the boy was not traumatized, but the problem was solved and the teacher/student relationship is still good!
     
  24. ArizonaTchr72

    ArizonaTchr72 Companion

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    One of my team teachers had a similar situation this year where a student was complaining about a "feet" smell in the classroom. This student was very vocal and yet she was the offender! She wore the same tennis shoes every day without socks! Finally one day the teacher gently told her that she might be the one with the stinky feet. Thankfully, she did not bring it up again. LOL! Sometimes, I think it is best to be direct but gentle with students. I have often told my fifth graders that they needed to wear deoderant. I even told a girl this past year that she needed to be wearing a bra every day! In this girl's case, her mom had already told her but she would sometimes forget. We had a great relationship and she did not seem uncomfortable talking to me about this. I think that these things can be addressed in private with most students.
     

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