Q: I have several middle school students in my computer class-all boys-who think it is a big joke to ‘pass gas’ in class. How do I explain to them that this is disgusting?
A: You explain to them that good manners means that you don’t intentionally do anything that offends another. This means you don’t say unkind things, nor do you create sounds or odors that are bothersome to others. You add that those who do this unfortunately are not well-mannered, thoughtful or kind and you are sure that none of them would like to be thought of as crude, or rude, which is just what they are when they pass gas on purpose. You might even explain that gas is created because of certain foods, and the way that those foods pass through one’s digestive tract, and can take the form of burping, or passing gas rectally. Therefore, there is nothing amusing about it, it is simply the body at work, and just as one would say “excuse me” if he inadvertently burped in class, he would do the same if he inadvertently passed gas. You expect, in the future, that anyone who passes gas does so without doing it intentionally, and that when he does, he excuses himself, and that you hope they are grown up enough that they don’t laugh when this happens, because it is not funny. It is just the body eliminating excess pressure. You can even add that anyone who does laugh will be expected to conduct research on how gas is created in the body and write a 500 word report to be graded by their classroom teacher, the principal and you, on the process, to benefit everyone else and to help them understand that there is nothing the least amusing about it.