R 261
2017 -- S 0881
Enacted 05/23/2017

S E N A T E   R E S O L U T I O N

Introduced By: Senators Gallo, Conley, and Ciccone
Date Introduced: May 11, 2017

     WHEREAS, Overloaded school backpacks are causing an increasing problem of back
pain and spinal strain for students across the nation; and
     WHEREAS, Because spinal ligaments and muscles are not fully developed until after age
sixteen, 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 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than
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 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, Studies have shown an increase in curvatures of the spine and compressed
intervertebral height when backpacks exceed ten percent of a child's body weight; and
     WHEREAS, The Global Burden of Disease Study of 2010 showed back pain as the
number one cause of disability worldwide and musculoskeletal disorders as the second cause; and
     WHEREAS, Children's textbooks are much heavier now than many years ago, and in
addition to textbooks, students often carry computers, cell phones, water bottles, running shoes,
band instruments, and other equipment considered essential to have readily available; and
     WHEREAS, More than ninety percent of students carry backpacks, which in studies have
been found to weigh as much as twenty-five percent of the child's body weight; and
     WHEREAS, Backpacks are often not worn correctly — often slung over one shoulder or
allowed to hang significantly below the 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; now, therefore be it
     RESOLVED, That this Senate of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
hereby strongly urges that all school administrators, teachers, parents, and students be educated
about the potential health impact of heavy backpacks and take proactive measures to avoid injury;
and be it further
     RESOLVED, That this Senate hereby recommends that Doctors of Chiropractic be
permitted to conduct mandatory interval scoliosis examinations on children; and be it further
     RESOLVED, That this Senate hereby recommends that schools work with their
PTA/PTO to assess the extent to which students use overweight backpacks and to promote
innovative homework strategies, lessening the need to take all school materials and books back
and forth each day. In addition, schools should consider the following points when developing
their backpack education talking points:
     ( Backpacks should weigh no more than a maximum of ten percent of a child's body
     ( Encourage ergonomic backpacks with individualized compartments to efficiently
hold books and equipment;
     ( Encourage children to wear both shoulder straps and not sling the backpack over one
     ( Encourage wide, padded adjustable straps to fit a child's body;
     ( Encourage the heaviest books be left at school and handouts or workbooks be used
for homework assignments;
     ( Schools should consider moving toward e-textbooks as federal and state funding
becomes available; and
     ( Schools should consider integrated education about backpacks by using a hanging
scale in the classroom, allowing students to weigh their backpack and enter the results into a
graph that would track the weights, and then look at the data to determine what can be done to
lighten loads; and be it further
     RESOLVED, That the Secretary of State be and hereby is authorized and directed to
transmit duly certified copies of this resolution to the Commissioner of Elementary and
Secondary Education, the President of the Rhode Island Association of School Committees,
President of the Rhode Island PTA, President of the Rhode Island Association of Administrators,
the President of the National Education Association Rhode Island, and the President of Rhode
Island Chapter of the Federation of Teachers and Healthcare Professionals.