What we don’t know could harm our children

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    I am very thankful to learn that one of our congressmen in Pampanga is seriously looking into the welfare of our children without being asked or prodded by concerned parents. Also, the recent information shared by Rep. Carmelo “ Tarzan” Lazatin on the alarming truth about our children’s daily load in school is indeed worthy of study and legislation.

    In the Punto issue yesterday, Pampanga 1st District Rep. Carmelo Lazatin said he will sponsor a bill limiting the weight of bags that children can bring to school.

    According to the congressmen, parents of children studying at the Mary the Help of Christians school in Mabalacat found out that bags carried daily by their grade school children to classes averaged 40 percent of their body weight.

    This is highly unacceptable because the Department of Health revealed that there were studies warning of adverse physical effects of heavy school bags on pupils. The study said a child should not carry a load more than 15 percent of his body weight.

    And Lazatin took the DOH warning seriously and decided to file a law helping parents assert their concern among school administrations.

    Lazatin further noted a 1988 study done by the Hong Kong Society for Child Health and Development which showed that 4.54 percent of third through sixth graders had mild to serious spinal deformities due to the heavy load they bring to school daily. He also cited a 1994 Scandinavian study showing “a high probability for spinal problems in children who carry backpacks, no matter how they wear them. “

    “The study found that 53.7 percent of children who carried their packs on one shoulder complained of back pain. Forty five percent of two shoulder pack wearers complained of back pain. Interestingly, the highest level of back pain, 68.6 percent carried the bag in one hand. The study also concluded that females were more likely to experience backpack related pain than were boys,” he quoted the study as saying.

    Lazatin cited another study of 100 physicians in Chicago and Wilmington in 1998 showing that almost 60 percent of children’s orthopaedic office visits for back and shoulder pain were the result of carrying too heavy backpacks. These findings were presented at an October 1999 press conference held by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, he added.

    The congressmen presented more studies proving correlation of heavy load to deformities on children and his comprehensive research on the issue showed his sincerity in addressing the parents’ concern.

    Almost everyday, we are bombarded with other issues we see in television. Crimes against persons such as rape, child molestation, robbery, physical attacks, hold-up and more are the things we dread the most. We always protect our children from possible predators but we seldom check possible harm inside our homes and in schools.

    These information about the threat on our children’s health is an eye-opener because the least things we thought that could harm our children are just inside our homes. We send them to school everyday and we buy them these huge luggage bags to contain their school textbooks and supplies.

    Although mothers like me ask why they have to bring all the books everyday when they can leave them at school, still there are no concrete actions taken to stop such practice. Other private schools in Angeles though make it a point that the children leave their books in their respective rooms but most often than not, 80 percent of schools do not practice this.

    This could be attributed to our limited education on the ill-effects of heavy loads on children. The schools could be not well-informed or guided on such concern. But today, given the DOH warning and Lazatin’s proposed bill, we hope that schools will impose corrective policies if only to help protect our children from possible harm.

    So the saying what we don’t know won’t hurt doesn’t apply here. It is actually the other way around for what we know may save our children from harm and what we don’t know may hurt them.

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