Published on September 17, 2020

Backpack Safety and Security

kids running with their backpacks

After months of uncertainty, it's (finally) the start of a new school year and there's so much to be excited for - a new teacher, new grade, shopping for clothes and school supplies! Navigating a global pandemic might make school and activities more challenging, but whether your child is just starting out in kindergarten or navigating the hallways of high school, a backpack is an essential item to get them where they're going. But is your child wearing their backpack safely and properly?

Backpack injuries are common in children of all ages and can cause a variety of health issues with back, neck and shoulder pain being the most common. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a backpack should not exceed 10-20 percent of a child's weight, but many students today are carrying bags that are too heavy for them. To help alleviate any future health issues, follow these basic guidelines for your child's safety and security.

Find a backpack with a padded back and shoulder straps. "It's important to make sure your child is wearing their backpack with both straps," says Dr. Jennifer Thomson, Pediatrician at Pleasant Street Pediatrics. "Using only one strap over time, especially if the backpack is heavy, could cause muscle pain or weakness." If you can, find a backpack with a waist strap to help distribute the weight. To ensure your child isn't carrying too much, place the backpack on a scale and take out any unnecessary items.

If your child does experience pain and is complaining of tingling or numbing sensation, don't ignore it. Talk to your pediatrician about advice for improving backpack safety. If the problem is persistent, they can recommend a specialist who can treat the specific issue.

In addition to knowing how to properly carry a backpack, you should also take precautions for backpack security. Dr. Thomson recommends, "Your child's name shouldn't be visible on the backpack for safety reasons." If you need to label their bag, discreetly write their name on the inside so strangers can't identify them on their way to and from school.

Our providers are ready to safely treat patients and get them ready for the school year. Sturdy has three pediatric locations:Pleasant Street PediatricsSouth Avenue Pediatrics, and Sturdy Pediatric Associates. Our providers are on call 24/7 for expert care when you need it most.