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.