While many parents question the safety of their child at school because of tragic school shootings in recent headlines, other health dangers lurk within the four walls of a classroom.
To keep your kids safe in elementary school, it helps to become informed as a parent. There are 3 common dangers that could affect your child’s health in their learning environment:
- Pesticides. Depending on the state, not all schools are required to have a set pesticide policy with parent notification. This is unfortunate since pesticide exposure over time can cause a number of health issues in children, including reproductive damage, hormone imbalances, and cancer.
Even pesticides used on sports fields can easily leach into groundwater supplies and may affect the drinking water quality in a local elementary school. Parents are encouraged to contact their child’s school directly to find out about their pesticide policy and urge the implementation of Integrated Pest Management for safer extermination.
- Vending machines. While a parent may go to painstaking lengths to pack a healthy lunch for their child, a school vending machine could be undermining their best efforts. According to a report from the University of Michigan Medical School, kids that eat junk food from vending machines at an early age are more likely to suffer from obesity and chronic health issues, including coronary artery disease and diabetes, later on in life.
The foods that a child eats in their early years really do matter; schools with vending machines are encouraged to display healthier food choices, like fresh fruit and yogurt versus candy and chips.
- Lack of activity. In an elementary school, children are prohibited from running in the halls for safety purposes. But do kids really get enough physical activity in their short break at recess? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that only 3.8% of elementary schools in 2006 provided adequate daily physical education throughout the school year.
This number was compared to 7.1% in middle schools and 2.1% in high schools. Up to 22% of schools don’t require any form of physical education whatsoever. To combat the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle in elementary school, sign your child up for extracurricular sports activities. Parents can also work together to promote school exercise and sports programs that children can participate in during recess or PE.
Keeping your kids safe at school requires attention to detail as a parent. All of the above school risks can affect your child’s health and could detract from their quality of life.