Recently in Naples, Florida, an eleven year girl, Lily Grasso, was sent home from school with a letter that stated Lily was “at risk” of being over-weight. Lily is five foot three inches tall and weighs one hundred and twenty-seven pounds. She is an athlete playing on two volleyball teams six days a week.
This letter was generated after a mandatory health screening done by the schools at the start of the school year. These screenings are the law in Florida, used to generate an advance directive to parents if there are indications that a conversation between patient and doctor may be of use.
Does anyone else besides me see the problem here with the government creating laws for mandatory health screenings in the schools? I understand with the rise of type two-diabetes in our youth that we as a nation should be deeply concerned. But at what point has the government gone too far?
The school systems in this country are too impacted, too oversized, and with too few teachers per classroom. The last thing our schools need to be doing is health screenings.
We have children today who are morbidly obese and need to lose weight. This as a nation we know. Should it not be a conversation between the child’s parents and their family doctor? Children do not need the school systems to single them out and tell them to lose weight.
Instead of the schools taking precious time away from teaching curriculum, it makes sense to me for schools to require parents to take their children in to see their physicians for a yearly physical before school commences.
If there is a discussion about the child’s need to lose weight, that is the appropriate forum for this discussion. By placing the burden upon the schools to do health screenings, generating letters to parents, and taking time away from teaching we are spending dollars foolishly.
We have not even touched upon the more important problem here that needs to be addressed. School health screenings are done publicly. Children stand in line to have their height and weight and BMI taken. It is not done privately. This can be humiliating to a child that needs to lose weight.
When I was in the sixth grade, I was five foot six inches tall, and I weighed one hundred and thirty-two pounds. My sixth grade teacher, who was six foot tall,
announced in front of my schoolmates that I weighed as much as she did. I felt so humiliated and embarrassed. Suddenly, I felt fat compared to my classmates, most of whom were not as tall as I.
Children unmercifully bullying other children contributes to low self-esteem and even suicide amongst our youth. Kids can be cruel, folks. It is hard enough trying to fit in let alone to be labeled the class fatty and be sent home with a letter that basically states you have to lose weight.
While afterwards the school realized they had calculated Lily’s BMI incorrectly, the damage was already done. It made national news and created uproar. Parents and kids are mad. No one likes to be labeled. Fat kids and their parents already know they are fat. They do not need the government or the school systems to tell them to lose weight.
I hope people stop the insanity of labeling kids as too fat, too tall, too skinny, to short, four-eyes, and all the other labels that do nothing but make them feel bad about themselves. Instead, why not promote kindness, goodness, and teach our children that not everyone is built the same, looks the same, comes from the same backgrounds, etc. Instead teach our children to respect themselves and others and to appreciate the beauty each of us has to offer from the inside of us.
And if the school is going to spend money on health initiatives, bring PE back to the schools, initiate health curriculum in grade school. Get kids motivated to move more. And encourage teachers to get into shape. After all, kids learn by example.
Until we meet again, this is Linda Misleh Wagner, Future Former Fatty.
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