Readers respond: School backpacks are too heavy!

In an article we recently published entitled 'Kids have suffered enough': Read one mom's plea to save kids from heavy school bags, Parent24 reader and mom Nazrana reached out to us to share her concerns over heavy school bags.

Nazrana has been trying to save kids from heavy backpacks, concerned about the harm that these heavy bags would have on the kids health, but her complaints have fallen to deaf ears.

"How long must these poor kids suffer before the principal and teachers realise the harm heavy bags are posing to their health?" she asked. "Something needs to be done immediately or we are going to have a country full of kids growing up to suffer with back ailments or worse."

These readers agreed wholeheartedly, and shared their thoughts with us:

Standardised bags became more strictly enforced

"I too remember those days of the giant school bag that left me huffing and puffing by the time I reached the top of the stairwell, in grade 4. For myself, by the time I was an older teen I realized I’d do better with a non descript little Nike back pack in my school colors. I would take 5 minutes at the end of the day to pull out all the extra text books and only take home what I needed, storing the extra books somewhere sort-of-safe in our homeroom class. 

However that little ritual became under threat when the school wanted to introduce big clunky standard school bags. At that time I was in grade 11 and promptly ignored the memo. 

Unfortunately for all those after me, the standardised bags became more strictly enforced. I specifically remember a physiotherapist in a school presentation highlighting the benefits of wearing a cross body bag with the strap going across your torso to balance the weight.

Besides that she recommended a light back pack with adjustable straps that are kept snug fitting to your body. That little presentation must have slipped right passed our schools governing body."

- Anonymous 

It's heartless

"These children will have long term back problems and posture problems. I've tried to raise the issue with my daughters head mistress and she told me my daughter must learn to carry only the books she is using for the day.

Guess what? She uses almost all of them daily, textbooks included. I decided to get her a trolley bag. But they keep breaking because of the weight. 

I'm so stressed. It's heartless and just because can't be bothered to move around classes instead of 200 kids moving up every 45 minutes. It's absurd."

- Concerned and irritated parent


Also read: Education in South Africa: hits and misses since the very first SONA

You cannot put a price tag on health

"I think this is a great initiative undertaken by Nazrana and we support her all the way. I agree with her fully that something needs to be done, I don't have kids myself, but I remember when I was in school and the heavy bags we would carry then.

It is ridiculous to think that a 10-year-old is forced to carry a 5 to 6 kg bag on his bag. You cannot put a price tag on health and something needs to be done."

- Nabihah

A kind offer

Businessman Selwyn Rautenbach reached out to Parent24 with a kind offer for mom Nazrana: a free Orthopaedic School Bag for her child. As managing director of Realign SA Rautenbach has a vested interest in the health and wellness of South Africa's children.

The product promises that unlike backpacks or messenger bags, the BackTpack "with its balanced side bags, applies the load to the body’s vertical axis, thereby eliminating posture distortion and decreasing the effort required to carry the load, in obedience to the laws of physics. The load feels lighter and you stand straighter."

We're hoping this takes the strain off both Nazrana and her child. Look out for an update coming soon... 

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