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Wednesday, 5 June, 2002, 15:22 GMT 16:22 UK
School bags face weight limit
School bags
Schoolchildren are at risk from carrying heavy bags
Back-packs that children carry to school could face weight limits, under legislation being considered in the United States.

There are worries that children are risking a lifetime of back problems by carrying bags overfilled with heavy books to school.


I was in the army and these kids are carrying bigger backpacks than what we used to carry. These kids are hunched over and are afraid to stand up straight because they might fall over

Peter Barnes, New Jersey assemblyman

New Jersey and California are both considering bills which would reduce the weights carried to school and lessen the risk of spinal damage.

And a back care organisation in the United Kingdom says that it shares this anxiety over excessive loads in school bags and is "sympathetic" to weight restrictions.

Back Care says that it has come across cases where school children were carrying bags which were the equivalent of their own bodyweight.

Weight ban

A spokesperson for the back health charity says that many parents under-estimate the long-term risks of children carrying too much to school.

And in response, Back Care is set to launch an ergonomically-designed back-pack which will limit the size of books.

The charity claims that by the age of 14, three out of five children in the United Kingdom will have experienced some back pain.

In the United States, there are an estimated 5,000 school-bag related back injuries each year.

The proposed legislation in New Jersey would set an upper limit on the weight of text books carried; while the Californian proposals would require school authorities to impose weight reductions.

The proposal in New Jersey is being put forward by Peter Barnes, who says: "I was in the army and these kids are carrying bigger backpacks than what we used to carry."

"These kids are hunched over and are afraid to stand up straight because they might fall over.''

An increase in the weights carried in school bags in the United States has been attributed to the closure of school lockers, after fears that they might be used to conceal guns.

Pupils are now expected to bring more books to and from school, with nowhere to leave them on school premises.

In the United Kingdom, an increase has been put down to a more intensive approach to the curriculum and more homework for younger children.

See also:

03 Dec 99 | UK Education
22 Jul 98 | UK Education
26 Nov 00 | Health
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