WIMMERA school students are buckling under the weight of heavy school bags.
State Government guidelines show children who carry school bags weighing more than 10 per cent of their body weight risk back pain and damage.
Stawell Secondary College year eight student Alex Hudson said carrying his school bag, which weighed more than 10 kilograms, caused his back to ache.
“I take the bus home and I find I have a sore back by the end of the day so I need to move about and give it a rub,” he said.
“It is a pretty big hassle with the bag and it does take a while to get it on for it to be comfortable.
“A lot of locks on the lockers have been broken so I don’t like to leave my books at school.”
His father Richard Hudson said many of the region’s school students were in the same boat as his son.
“The core issue seems to be that the schools will encourage students to use their lockers but for whatever reason they don’t feel comfortable to do that,” he said.
“They are also not allowed to leave their computers at school because they have to be charged at home so that is also contributing to the weight.
“I had a little kid come into my shop the other day and he had a bag that I could barely lift so I don’t know how he was managing.”
Mr Hudson said parents, schools and the Victorian Education Department needed to act.
“Schools need to monitor this and have good concrete workable policies that are developed in conjunction with students, parents and the department,” he said.
“You have these little kids carrying these huge bags which are doing damage to their backs, posture, stature and their long-term health.”
St Brigid’s College school captain Alana Ticchi, 17, said she also suffered from a sore back after carrying her school bag.
She said using a school bag with wheels had become a real temptation.
“I’ve never had it so heavy but because I am in year 12 this year I need all my books,” she said.
“I walk to the bus but sometimes my parents will offer me a lift because my bag is so heavy.
“A lot of the year 12s carry two bags because their bags are so heavy.”
Horsham chiropractor Dr Ross Brown said children risked back and shoulder pain as well as headaches by carrying heavy bags.
“Most of the problem is caused by uneven weight when they wear bags on one shoulder,” he said.
“Lifting the bags from the ground up and twisting can also do some damage.
“Particularly in the later years – years 11 and 12 – when students are carrying a lot of books and doing a lot of studying sitting down, it is causing discomfort.
“A well supporting, well balanced backpack is better, but any backpack is better than a one-shoulder bag – always use both straps properly.”