NO Rolling Book Bags!


A recent Google search on the issue of rolling book bags Image

quickly revealed several pdf links to documents prohibiting them from schools.

I was hoping to find out why, but found little to support my argument that they should be options for students who need them.  Dr. Mark Locke has seen, “a steady increase in children developing pain and needing to seek medical treatment for back pain. Twenty years ago, it was rare for a child to complain of back pain. Now, this type of pain is seen daily. Book bag related pain seems to be most prevalent in middle school-aged children, who sometimes carry loads of up to 25 percent of their body weight.”

As a parent, this became an issue for me when my 5th grader complained of back & shoulder pain at her annual physical.  Her pediatrician, Dr. Beddingfield of Gastonia Children’s Clinic believed the pain was related to her book bag, which she said should be “not more than 10% of her body weight.” She wrote a note for the school advocating a rolling book bag. Scarlet’s back pack was 17% of her body weight until her school nurse helped her lighten the load by taking several items out, encouraging her to leave them at school. That seemed an obvious and easy fix.

A few weeks later I note an unacceptable side effect to that solution. Now my daughter doesn’t always have what she needs to do her homework.  There was an offer to send home copies of textbooks, but the teachers said she wouldn’t need them.  They were right.  She doesn’t need textbooks.  But she does need items that she’s placed in her large binder.  The binder itself is a cumbersome object and the intention is that it’s contents allow the student to have everything they need in a well organized system.  My daughter’s well-organized system has to be strategically managed because to lighten her book bag enough, she has to pull items out of her book bag and put them in her take home folder.  Then return to school and take them from her folder to put back in her binder.

Safety and noise are the leading arguments against rolling book bags.

As I reflect on the possibile objections to my request for permission to provide my daughter a rolling book bag, my research led me to these words, “Rolling book bags are an option, but not a solution. This style bag can create a safety hazard by blocking the aisle on the school bus. Although it is better to pull than to carry heavy books, rolling bag weight can lead to its own set of problems, such as arm and leg pain.” I guess it depends on the weight of what is being pulled.  As for the safety concerns…what if the student is not a bus rider?  And if they are, what if a system were established to secure the book bag off the ground?

I value teaching children to honor the procedures and expectations of their school, which is why it is important that everyone involved in establishing  policies and procedures…school board members, administrators, parents & teachers serving on committees…thoughtfully consider what is in the best interests of all children, which means taking a careful look at what is best for each child on a case by case basis.

Dr. Locke’s goes on to say, “The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that nearly 5,000 emergency room visits each year result from injuries related to book bags and backpack carriers. Many students have no lockers, or limited access to lockers between classes because of security or disciplinary issues. You will need to be an advocate for your child in order to create solutions to this problem. I believe that if teachers and principals had to carry these heavy book bags all day, they might be more inclined to recognize that a problem exists.”

I will take the advice of Dr. Locke, which is to work with my child’s school to ensure that she remains free of back pain and injuries.

My daughter is a healthy, physically active child who has a lot on her mind.  She’s capable of carrying the load, physically & mentally. But when fatigue and frustration begin to cloud her confidence, I feel it is my job as her mom to advocate for a beneficial tweak in policy. Use of a rolling book bag may just boost her rate of success and consequently her self-esteem, by ensuring that she is equipped with the materials she needs for optimum performance.

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About Aubrey

Christian educationist having served in Title I and non Title I public schools, with experience in the often misunderstood fields of gifted education, RtI, and coaching. First hand experience homeschooling, virtual schooling, and alternative schooling too. Married mother of 3 in a blended family.
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