Kids weighed down by school bags

Tazlina Zamila Khan
How many of you lifted a bag of a school-going student?

Syrian refugee children in Lebanon have no schools
Syrian refugee children in Lebanon have no schools?

Heavy bags might cause a student to balance by tilting his body forward that can strain muscles in his neck, shoulders and back. They are climbing the steps with heavy backpacks, which cause anxiety in them.
Recently, I came across a girl of 13 years old carrying a backpack of 10 kilos of weight. I was literally surprised by this information. Not only her, but many from the entire tender generation are also killing their health day by day by carrying such heavy load.
The High Court of our country prohibited the carrying of satchels that weigh more than 10 percent of their body weight in 2016. But how many schools are actually following this order? The pictures are still the same as before. The court further mentioned that obliging young students to carry heavy weight is a violation of human rights. Due to lack of monitoring cells, this has no practical implementation.
A child might face chronic back pain, chronic neck pain, headaches, shoulder pain, hip pain, knee pain, falls, chronic inflammation, constriction of internal organs and poor posture for carrying weighty backpacks for days.
In 2013, a report of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission published that over 22,000 students suffer back pain related injuries.
Majority of them carry as much as 25% of their body weight. A study in Al-Ahsa, Saudi Arabia, reveals that 1860 (around 73%) of the students among 2567 students carries bags that weight more than 15% of their body weight and back pain was reported by 42% of the students. In India, the burden of satchels, as estimated in some of the Telangana districts, weighs about 6 to 12 Kgs at primary level and 12 to 17 Kgs at the high school level.
The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health of US says the carrying weight for boys and girl for less than 16 years old should be 14 kgs and 8 kgs. But it can vary according to their body weight.
National Back Pain Association of UK published a guideline suggesting that in an ideal world, a satchel should weigh under 10% of the student’s body weight and this weight should be held on both shoulders in a backpack style schoolbag.
So, what can be done? If most of the schools had lockers, then the burden of weight could be reduced. This can help children keeping some of the books and copies at school and not carrying them back home. Besides students don’t need to carry tiffin boxes if canteen facilities are ensured properly for them. Also, parents need to select proper backpacks for their children that suit their body size and weight.
(The writer is an English Teacher of an English Medium School.)