Today’s heavy textbooks and increasing amounts of homework mean that children as young as seven and eight are carrying heavy loads to and from school. Add notebooks and personal items to the oversized textbooks, and luggage can easily top fifteen or twenty pounds.
Most doctors recommend that a child carry no more than ten to fifteen percent of his or her body weight on their back, but students are often left carrying more. Backpacks, when fitted and worn properly, help maintain the wearer’s center of gravity while preventing shoulder injuries caused by messenger or shoulder bags. However, as children and teenagers often wear their backpacks too low on the back or over one shoulder, the benefit of the design is null and the weight of the student’s items become dangerous. Even wearing the bag properly is sometimes not enough, given the weight of today’s class books.
The bag should be worn high on the back and contain only the necessary items. A bag worn too heavy or too low on the back causes the back to bend, resulting in back pain and possible injury. A heavy bag worn too low lowers the child’s center of gravity and forces him or her to walk while bending forward. The bag should also be made from a lightweight material like canvas and have thick, padded shoulder straps. Pack heavier things in the back center of the backpack. If a child struggles to put the backpack on or leans forward while carrying it, parents and teachers must take precautions and reduce the weight of the pack.
While reducing the weight of textbooks carried to and from school would be the best solution, it is not the most easily achievable. Some private schools and public schools in wealthier areas can afford to purchase two sets of textbooks for students one to leave at school and one to leave at home for homework. This is not however a cheap option, students and parents must find a different solution. Students should be sure to carry only what they need in their bags and should be encouraged to unload frequently at a desk or locker. Solving student backpack issues now can mean less back pain later in life.
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