Most people growing up remember the massive amount of books they were expected to carry as an elementary school child. Sometimes, kids have bookbags that carry well over 10lbs of text books and school supplies on their back every day. If this sounds like a problem, it is.  Recently, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission conducted a study that showed that more than three quarters of students, in the 8-12 range, suffer from back pain due to their extremely heavy back packs.

The Danger in Backpacks

Stress on the Body

One expert, a chiropractor named Dr. Fred Rossi, says “I’ve been saying since the second grade that too much homework is bad for a student!” On a serious note, some of our younger elementary school students are literally carrying one-third their body weight for prolonged periods of time and distance. That puts a lot of stress on a body in the midst of development.”

This doesn’t just effect the smaller kids, but the larger ones as well. 96% of the students that were monitored carry entirely too heavy book bags on their back. In 2001, there were 7000 kids who had to go to the emergency room due to book bag related maladies.  When polling orthopedic doctors, 60% of them reported having to treat kids suffering from chronic back pain issues related to their large bags.  To put the number in perspective, a child who carries a 12 lb. back pack will on average lift it 10 times a day for an entire school year. That is the equivalent of 6 mid sized cars, or 21,600 lbs.

How heavy should a backpack be?

“Children should not carry backpacks that exceed more than 10% of their body weight — which translates into a 5- to 10-pound load for elementary students,” noted Rossi.

“Even with the continued progression of electronic learning – which one would think leads to fewer books – the backpack has become a survival kit for the action-packed lives that today’s children lead during and after school hours. Parents and teachers have to take an active role in limiting what we literally load onto these children. If we don’t address it now, the picture of a child carrying numerous books – which many have seen as a sign for a bright future – could foreshadow a painful outlook as well,” concluded Rossi.

Technology may be the solution

A couple of things can go a long way to address the problem. For one, technology such as tablets can eliminate the need for massive text books. Also, schools should be finding ways to increase storage space at the school so they don’t have to carry everything around all day. Finally, which would be a huge plus for most kids, teachers could assign less take home work that requires bringing the entire text book home.


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