Kids backpacks – Lawsuit waiting to happen

time health colleen kelly

Several years ago I was asked by a large backpack association to speak at one of their events on how to pack children’s backpacks.

It was one of the few times I said ‘no’ to a lecture. Frankly, I don’t believe children should be carrying backpacks at all.

At the time the only solution I could think of was a trolley. You don’t see children at an airport carrying a backpack – they pull a trolley instead. But of course now we have kindle, the internet, electronic submissions of essays. Why on earth are they carrying a single book?

Looking into it further at the time, I did a small study (n=27) and found that the children in Melbourne that I studied, all from Grade 9 at the local Bacchus Marsh School, were carrying more weight than Heathrow Baggage Handlers!

But, as the Universe would have it – while I was doing the study, the school had a group of children visiting from Japan.  What did they arrive with….trolleys!

Children should not be carrying heavy back-packs.  Simply a lawsuit waiting to happen – that can so easily be avoided.  Extra lockers, using kindle, internet and electronic submissions, and if the school is that old-fashioned they are unable or unwilling to go paperless…use trolleys!

Click here to go to the Time Health Article

time health colleen kelly


8 thoughts on “Kids backpacks – Lawsuit waiting to happen

  1. At my school we are required to walk around with backpacks holding our many books, binders, and computers. Our school doesn’t allow the lockers to be used for covid reasons even thought we sit at lunch closer than the lockers are! If we don’t have all of our belongings, we might get in trouble and we cannot do work. I researched about how heavy a backpack should be. Google said that it should be less than 20 percent of your body weight unless you are above 150lbs (then it should be less than 30 percent). I am about 100lbs and so are many of the other middle-schoolers in my school, while everyone’s backpacks are AT LEAST 30 pounds. I am debating whether I should talk to the principle about this because it is causing ankle pain as well as extreme back pain. Thanks!

    1. I am happy to send you more information you can pass onto your Principal. It’s better to have that leaflet in your hand – go in well prepared. It’s a hugely important issue. I’m old and paying the price for all my bad posture all these years. I never learned this stuff because I was good – I learned it because my neck started aching when I was about 4 years old, and by 18 I could barely walk. At one stage I even exercised my horses from my wheelchair. Happy to help. Email me at

  2. Hannah if you would like any reference material for your principal, let me know. It’s too late when your my age and your spine/body is already injured. Do it now! Science supports you all the way!

  3. Hi! I read your article and am really thinking about suing my sons school. I’ve made multiple attempts to contact that principal regarding this issue and she’s swept it under the rug. My son is 5 years old weighs 47 pounds and his book bag weighs 17.2 pounds!!! The only reason I started looking this up was because he was crying that his back was hurting everyday. As a mom realizing it was his backpack was infuriating.

    1. If you can please provide some resources to back the science up I would appreciate it. All I want is for the load to be lightened. There is no need for him to carry that much weight at such a young age.

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