Amended in Senate May 21, 2014

Senate Concurrent ResolutionNo. 86

Introduced by Senator Hueso

February 21, 2014

Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 86—Relative to heavy school backpacks.


SCR 86, as amended, Hueso. Heavy school backpacks.

This measure would acknowledge the health risks that heavy backpacks pose to schoolchildren and recommend certain measures to be taken in that regard to avoid injury.

Fiscal committee: no.

P1    1WHEREAS, Overloaded school backpacks are causing an
2increasing problem of back pain and spinal strain in students in
3elementary and secondary schools across the nation; and

4WHEREAS, Because spinal ligaments and muscles are not fully
5developed until after 16 years of age, overweight backpacks are a
6source of repeated low-level stress that may result in chronic neck,
7shoulder, or back pain in children; and

8WHEREAS, Reviews of data have revealed over 7,000
9emergency room visits, and over 28,000 doctor’s office visits, per
10year by children for backpack-related injuries; and

11WHEREAS, Studies of the effects on children of carrying heavy
12backpacks have shown that heavy loads carried on the back have
13the potential to compress intervertebralbegin delete discend deletebegin insert diskend insert height and damage
14the soft tissues of the shoulder causing microstructural damage to
15the nerves; and

P2    1WHEREAS, Students’ textbooks are much heavier now than
2many years ago and, in addition to textbooks, students often carry
3computers, cell phones, water bottles, running shoes, band
4instruments, and other equipment considered essential to have
5readily available; and

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6WHEREAS, The State Board of Education, pursuant to Assembly
7Bill No. 2532 (Chapter 1096 of the Statutes of 2002), adopted
8maximum weight standards for textbooks, and required textbook
9publishers to submit lightweight alternatives to print materials;

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11WHEREAS, More than 90 percent of children carry a school
12backpack, which studies have found to weigh as much as 25 percent
13of the child’s body weight; and

14WHEREAS, Backpacks are often not worn correctly and are
15frequently slung over one shoulder or allowed to hang significantly
16below the waistline, increasing the weight on the shoulders and
17causing the child to lean forward when walking or standing to
18compensate for the weight; and

19WHEREAS, Rolling backpacks remove the weight from a
20child’s back, but are sometimes not allowed in schools due to a
21concern over being a trip hazard in the hallways or because of the
22difficulty of carrying them up and down stairways; now, therefore,
23be it

24Resolved by the Senate of the State of California, the Assembly
25thereof concurring,
That the Legislature strongly recommends that
26all school administrators, teachers, parents, and school children
27be educated about the potential health impacts of heavy backpacks
28and take proactive measures to avoid injury; and be it further

29Resolved, That schools should work with parent-teacher
30organizations to assess the extent to which their students use
31overweight backpacks and to promote innovative homework
32strategies that lessen the need for students to take school materials
33and books from school to home each day; and be it further

34Resolved, That the Legislature urges schools to do the following
35when developing their guidelines for students’ use of backpacks:

36(a) Discourage students from carrying a backpack that weighs
37more than 10 percent of a student’s body weight.

38(b) Encourage the use of ergonomic backpacks with
39individualized compartments to efficiently hold books and

P3    1(c) Encourage students to wear both shoulder straps and not
2sling a backpack over one shoulder.

3(d) Encourage the use of wide, padded, adjustable backpack
4straps that fit the student’s body.

5(e) Encourage students to leave the heaviest books at school,
6and urge teachers to give handouts or workbooks that can be used
7for homework assignments.

8(f) Encourage schools to make electronic versions of textbooks
9available, as federal and state funding for that purpose becomes

11(g) Offer students integrated education about backpacks by
12using a hanging scale in the classroom to allow students to weigh
13their backpacks and enter the weight into a graph that would track
14the weights and use the data to determine whether a student’s
15backpack is too heavy, and provide information about ways to
16lighten the weight of a backpack; and be it further

17Resolved, That the Secretary of the Senate transmit copies of
18this resolution to the author for appropriate distribution.