SENATE RESOLUTION No. 38

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

216th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED FEBRUARY 27, 2014

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  PETER J. BARNES, III

District 18 (Middlesex)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Urges school administrators, teachers, parents, and students to be better educated about potential health impacts of heavy backpacks and take proactive measures to avoid injury.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

 


A Senate Resolution urging school administrators, teachers, parents, and students to be better educated about the potential health impact of heavy backpacks and to take proactive measures to avoid injury.

 

Whereas, Backpacks of elementary and secondary school students often contain textbooks, binders, calculators, personal computers, lunches, a change of clothing, sports equipment, and more; and

Whereas, Elementary and secondary school students are carrying backpacks weighing as much as 40 pounds; and

Whereas, Overloaded school backpacks are causing an increasing problem of back pain and spinal strain for students; and

Whereas, Because spinal ligaments and muscles are not fully developed until after age 16, overweight backpacks are a source of repeated low-level stress that may result in chronic neck, shoulder, or back pain in children; and

Whereas, According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, over 7,000 emergency room visits each year are due to backpack-related injuries. In 2010 alone, physicians’ offices, clinics, and hospital emergency rooms treated nearly 28,000 strains, sprains, dislocations, and fractures from backpacks; and

Whereas, Studies have shown that heavy loads carried on the back have the potential to damage the soft tissues of the shoulder, causing microstructural damage to the nerves and damage to internal organs; and

Whereas, Backpacks are often not worn correctly, often slung over one shoulder or allowed to hang significantly below a student’s waistline, increasing the weight on the shoulders and making the child lean forward when walking or stoop forward when standing to compensate for the weight; and

Whereas, The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends that a child’s backpack should weigh no more than 15 to 20 percent of the child’s body weight, depending on the child’s body strength and fitness; and

Whereas, In order to promote backpack safety, schools should consider measures such as: switching to electronic textbooks; encouraging that the heaviest textbooks be left at school and handouts or workbooks be used for homework assignments; encouraging the use of ergonomic backpacks; and encouraging the use of wide, padded adjustable straps to fit a child’s body; now, therefore,

 

     Be It Resolved by the Senate of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    School administrators, teachers, parents, and students are strongly urged to be better educated about the potential health impact of heavy backpacks and to take proactive measures to avoid student injury.

     2.    Schools are encouraged to work with their parent-teacher associations to assess the extent to which students use overweight backpacks and promote innovative homework strategies that lessen the need to take all school materials and books back and forth each day.

 

     3.    Copies of this resolution, as filed with the Secretary of State, shall be transmitted by the Secretary of the Senate to the Commissioner of Education, who shall distribute the resolution to all school districts in the State.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This resolution urges school administrators, teachers, parents, and students to be better educated about the potential health impacts of heavy backpacks and to take proactive measures to avoid student injury.

     Elementary and secondary school students often carry textbooks, binders, calculators, personal computers, lunches, a change of clothing, sports equipment, and other items for school, all of which cause backpacks to weigh as much as 40 pounds. These overloaded backpacks are causing an increasing problem of back pain and spinal strain for students. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, over 7,000 emergency room visits each year are due to backpack-related injuries. In 2010 alone, physicians’ offices, clinics, and hospital emergency rooms treated nearly 28,000 strains, sprains, dislocations, and fractures from backpacks.

     In order to promote backpack safety and lessen back and shoulder injuries, schools should consider measures such as: switching to electronic textbooks; encouraging that the heaviest textbooks be left at school and handouts or workbooks be used for homework assignments; encouraging the use of ergonomic backpacks; and encouraging the use of wide, padded adjustable straps to fit a child’s body.