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7 Ways School Is Hazardous to Your Health

7 Ways School Is Hazardous to Your Health
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My son Charlie‘s still on summer vacation for three more weeks (in fact, tomorrow is his first day of one-week summer day camp). But the next week is back to school for many children across the US — and, for many children, school is full of hazards. The Los Angeles Times notes seven ways that “school is hazardous for your child’s health,” not to mention that of the teachers, administrators and other staff who work in US public schools — and ways that you can do something about it.

Here’s the Los Angeles Times‘s list of school health hazards.

1) Inactivity and the Decline of P.E.
Gym Class at Fishers Elementary School


Photo by USDA Gov


These figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention really shocked me as I remember having PE almost daily up till fourth grade in northern California public schools: Only 3.8% of elementary schools, 7.9% of middle schools and 2.1% of high schools have daily physical education or its equivalent for the entire school year. 22% of schools don’t even require students to take P.E..

The CDC and the Institute of Medicine recommend 150 minutes of physical education a week for children in elementary school and 225 minutes a week for middle school and high school, and that 50% of that be spent on moderate to physical exercise — recommendations that very few schools actually meet.

The Los Angeles Times points out that No Child Left Behind requirements that all students meet standards for reading and math have led to a greater focus on standardized test scores and many schools, especially those in low-income and urban areas, have canceled P.E. and gym class. Furthermore, school districts have been retiring jungle gyms “in droves,” eliminating a key way for children to gain muscle strength and, according to some studies, learn about “risk-taking and overcome natural fears.”  First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! offers many suggestions about how to “school a more active place,” which has benefits not only for fighting obesity, but for helping students’ in-classroom behavior and overall learning.

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4:34PM PDT on Nov 1, 2011

schools often claim they are giving the students a 'balanced diet', which of course they don't really do. I have found that my school's idea of a healthy meal is pizza and chips. I found that I actually seem to lose weight during the holidays when my diet is going back to normal, and I'm getting better quality sleep and more of it.

6:27AM PDT on Oct 31, 2011

I think that attacking all these problems individually is a little like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. The whole way education is "done" needs an overhaul. taking children at their most active age and marching them off to virtual prison camps, with lots of inmates and only a few "wardens," is a recipe for behavior problems and bullying, while teaching to tests and by-the-numbers processes intellectual curiosity out of them. My memory is quite clear. It was bad when I was young fifty years ago and clearly isn't much better now, despite flails at accommodating "learning styles" and so on.

I don't have a perfect answer, but it's time we admitted that this is a crap way to start people off in life. Where are children bullied? School, where adults have just too mch to do to thwart bullying behavior. Where do they get hold of drugs and alcohol at ages when people aren't ready to handle such things? School. Where do they learn to cheat and conform and basically bullsh*t their way through life? School. I am not in the least opposing the idea of hard academic work, but we seem to be doing everything backwards.

4:33AM PDT on Sep 20, 2011

Schools are now pressurised to focus on tests not P.E !!! I am a UK teacher and am in same position !!! Cooped up with cough, cold, flu etc germs...

5:23AM PDT on Aug 24, 2011

Junior High and High School were hell for me when I was a student. Mostly homework and my mother meddling with that homework.

5:45AM PDT on Aug 23, 2011

thanks for the info

5:45AM PDT on Aug 23, 2011


8:56AM PDT on Aug 21, 2011

If a child isn't getting enough sleep or rather staying up late to complete homework, then it's time to re-evaluate all the extra activities. When my children were involved in sports, the rule was that homework needed to be completed before they went to practice, not after, because school is the priority not sports. Same applies to playing outside, watching tv or playing video games. Too many parents fail to enforce such rules.

Bullying and cyberbullying is not a school hazard; it's a lack of parenting skills. I completely disagree when schools are held solely accountable for what goes on off of school grounds.

Germs could be eliminated or at least drastically reduced in schools and all other public buildings if janitorial staff weren't forced to use "green" cleaning products. Environmentally friendly is also germ friendly.

Gym classes are supposed to be for physical activity and exercise but I've found out that time is spent on written material as well. All I can say to that is, "you've got to be kidding me". Eliminate the nonsense academic side of gym class and return to what it's supposed to be.

Starting school later is a joke because it does nothing but set students up for failure later on. College courses begin as early as 8AM, so the student who was used to not starting school until 9 or 10 will quickly find him/herself failing in college as they struggle to get up earlier. Let's not even talk about the difficulty in holding down a job; it's unlikel

6:06AM PDT on Aug 21, 2011

I don't have children in school anymore. Mine are grown and living their own lives. But, I would be scared to death today to have to let my children go to school. I read somewhere, where theres more germs on the toilet than kissing someone.... I don't know how true that is but it's just mind boggling. Good article. thanx" Barbera..

Forgive me, I am not trying to be mean or mean no disrespect with this following comment on your comment…BUT I SURE AM GLAD TO HEAR THAT THERE ARE MORE GERMS ON A TOILET SEAT THAN KISSING SOMEONE! I would much rather catch and reprimand my student for kissing another student than catch them kissing toilet seats. {Perplexed}

8:41PM PDT on Aug 20, 2011

So grateful I am not in school anymore!

6:24PM PDT on Aug 20, 2011

I don't have children in school anymore. Mine are grown and living their own lives. But, I would be scared to death today to have to let my children go to school. I read somewhere, where theres more germs on the toilet than kissing someone.... I don't know how true that is but it's just mind boggling. Good article. thanx

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