Would you let your 10/11 year old be weighed at school?

A few days ago, just as we were leaving for school, my daughter mentioned that she was going to get weighed and have her height measured at school.  I was a bit taken back by this sudden announcement but not totally surprised as I had heard of the measurement programme and knew that it was only a matter of time before my daughter’s year were called up.  I had already decided that I didn’t want my daughter to be part of this so asked her when this would be happening but she didn’t know and neither did she have a letter telling me more about it.  So I looked up the national child measurement programme, as it is called, and was relieved to read that my daughter did not have to participate.  So assuming that the school were just giving advance notice to our children, I waited for a letter to appear from school.

Yesterday morning I found the letter amongst my daughter’s things and duly signed the form indicating that I did not consent to her being weighed and measured at school.  However, as I was about to slot the completed form into an envelope my daughter told me that she had already been weighed – last Friday to be exact.  I was furious that my daughter had been weighed and measured without my consent and even more disgusted that I didn’t receive the letter informing me of this until AFTER the event.

I may sound like I’m over reacting to something that is meant to be beneficial to our children’s health but I am against this programme for various reasons.

First of all, I am not comfortable with 10 and 11 year olds being weighed and measured at school as part of a scheme that is devised to collect data and build up a national picture about how children are growing.  I am not happy for my children to be exploited for statistical purposes.  I would only be interested in my daughter being weighed and measured if it was part of an overall health check up that is conducted in private and which takes into consideration her aspergers and sensory difficulties.  As it is this measurement programme takes no account of these things.

I am also concerned of the reliability of the measurements.  When my children were babies, they were off the development charts due to their length and size (the result of being fairly tall and marrying a tall man).  It was hard to get an accurate assessment of their development as babies and toddlers as they were bigger than average children.  Not surprisingly my 10 year old daughter has grown to be taller and bigger built than most children her age (she is a size 7 shoe size already).  I am not confident that measurement charts are going to allow for this and I expect a letter that crudely tells me that my child is overweight.

But what worries me the most is whether it is appropriate to weigh 10 and 11 year olds, many of whom are starting to become aware of how they look in comparison to other children (particularly the girls).  The idea of weighing them at a stage in their life when some of them are already entering puberty could make weight more of an issue.   I already know of teenage girls with food issues and an unrealistic expectation to have that model look and I don’t want my daughter to become hung up on weight like this.  She has enough to deal with in relation to her aspergers.

In any case it is not enough just to send letters to parents telling them whether their kids are overweight or not.  It’s too easy for our government just to pressurise or blame parents without looking at the whole of society we live in.  You know if we are serious about health, then why does the government allow for our children to be bombarded by unhealthy food advertisements, why do they allow our foodstuffs to be crammed with unhealthy additives and preservatives, why are children not doing enough PE at school.  The point is that there are many other issues besides parenting that needs to be addressed in our society if we are to deal with a nation that is becoming increasingly overweight.

This post is day 17 of the nablopomo challenge where I have to submit a blogpost every day in the month of November.

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5 Responses to Would you let your 10/11 year old be weighed at school?

  1. Crystal Jigsaw says:

    Deb, you are most definitely not alone with your angry thoughts. Just reading this has made me absolutely furious. The same thing happened to me (and Amy). She came home one day and told me all the children had been weighed and measured by nurses but I could tell she had no idea why they were doing it. She attended mainstream school when this happened, back in June I think it was. I did blog about it because I was completely and utterly disgusted beyond belief. But the thing that hurt the most was when I received, in the post with a 1st class stamp on the envelope, a letter from the officials health idiots telling me that my daughter has been registered as being over weight. The letter contained a bundle of information from Fit For Life (I think it’s called) and lots of advice on what to give my daughter to eat and drink, how much exercise she should have and what her ideal body weight should be. I ripped it all up and threw it in the bin. I remember saying the F word a few times and did actually pick up the phone to ring school but decided against it as I was so angry.

    Amy is 11 (12 in January), she is taller than me at 5ft 6, she weighs far more than an average 11 year old and she wears size 8 shoes. She isn’t an average 11 year old but she is slim, tall and beautiful. That letter made my daughter feel as though she was an overweight loser, unfit and addicted to rubbish food. Because of her autism, it was quite easy for those nurses and the teachers who got involved, to make Amy feel like she was the odd one out. She spent a long time telling me she felt fat and ugly – how do you think that made me feel? Because she was leaving the school in July I didn’t take the matter further but disgust at the whole situation was the emotion that only touched the surface. I was a very, very angry parent. Special needs children are not average children and things like this should not be undertaken 1) without parental consent, and 2) at all, because in 99% of cases, they are bound to throw up a discrepancy which will make the child feel different; something we are continuing to avoid with our special needs children.

    CJ xx

  2. Fiona says:

    Totally agree with you. I’m tired of the state assuming that we parents are all idiots who need to be told what is and isn’t healthy for our children. Most parents are brilliant. Most of us do what ever is necessary to keep our children healthy and happy without interference from the state. You aren’t alone in your concerns I know of other parents who feel as aggrieved with these checks as us.

    • Aspie in the family says:

      Hi Fiona, as you know I’m sick of being treated like an idiot. Its time we spoke out against unnecessary political interference like this because its damaging parenting I think. What angers me even more is that the government simplify the arguments and don’t seem to consider the whole picture. Deb x

  3. sarahmumof3 says:

    I agree with you, I don’t like the idea of weighing anyone to be honest and have no scales in my house at all.. its just not needed in my opinion, if you are overweight I think you can gather this without the need of a scale?! as for children it is something that bugs me too… children grow in all sorts of different ways at different times and rates, we keep telling our children to be careful what they eat and I also don’t agree with that, btu to also be telling them to be concious of their weight I think is asking for trouble, yes they may be trying to lower over weight problems, but ultimately i feel it will increase under weight ones!

    • Aspie in the family says:

      Hi Sarah, thanks for commenting. We don’t have scales either so we don’t weigh ourselves so to suddenly have this weighing programme forced on my daughter made me quite angry. I felt totally undermined as a parent. As you say, I think it could make weight more of an issue which concerns me because we hear lots about girls with eating disorders who desire that size 0 look. I hear these attitudes in my elder daughters year. Deb

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