Risha Chitlangia, TNN Jul 18, 2009, 11.37pm IST
NEW DELHI: Three years after TOI highlighted how heavy school bags posed a threat to children who were being turned into beasts of burden another survey has revealed that nothing has changed. In fact, things have only got worse. All the right noises have been made, including a diktat by CBSE to schools, but to no avail. The average weight of a school bag still ranges from 8kg to 10kg and schools remain in the denial mode over the problem. Over a period, doctors warn, this can give rise to musculoskeletal problems, turn our kids into hunchbacks ok, give them a bad posture and cause backache.
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Ignoring this problem can cause serious complications. Doctors, in fact, say that backache is becoming a common problem among children. "We did a few camps in various schools and found that 15-20% of students complain of regular backaches. Low-lying bags are a solution as the weight is transferred to the pelvis, forcing the kid to walk straight,'' said Dr Vivek Sharma, orthopaedic consultant, Artemis Healthcare Institute. The pain in the long run both in the lower spinal region and at the back of the neck, in the area between the shoulder blades can become chronic. Doctors warn that heavy bags can also result in bad posture. "When the bag weighs close to 8-10 kg, children lean forward in order to balance the weight. As a result, they develop a stoop,'' said Dr PK Dave, head of the department, orthopaedics, Rockland Hospital. Specialists say that even a primary school child should not be carrying more than 2-2.5 kg and a middle school child 3-3.5 kg. And anyway the weight should not exceed 4.5 kg even for high school children. Helpless parents
Parents say they are helpless and at the most they can ferry the children back and forth. This, at times, with both parents working, is difficult. "I feel really bad for them. They have to carry all the books as they are not sure which book would be required the next day,'' said Parul, whose son studies in VIth class at Modern School, Barakhamba Road. Some parents have deployed bags with wheels which, however, don't last for long. One subject, many books
One reason why the school bag has not shed weight is the practice by private schools to prescribe private publishers rather than NCERT textbooks. "They don't follow NCERT books for subjects like English. My daughter has six-seven books for English. And any given day, she carries at least three of them as she is not sure about the book,'' said Savita (name changed), whose daughter is in Class VII at Modern School. Principals say they prefer books by private publishers "as...