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Thursday, June 17, 2010

It's called parenting...

...and if you are not going to do it, then you shouldn't have kids. And that folks, is what this really boils down to for me.

As a parent, I assumed certain responsibilities including providing adequate health care, education around food and exercise, limited time with the computer and video games and other things related to being an overall healthy person. This is one of the many responsibilities I have as a parent. Am I perfect? No. Have I been a little slack here and there with this type of thing? of course (see the part that says I am not perfect). Am I myself overweight? Yes. Does this mean that I do not provide the tools necessary for my kids to make better choices than I have? No.

There is no denying that in many respects, in many instances and on many different levels, parents have slacked off (just because I am not one of them doesn't mean that I deny their existence). There is also no denying that schools have had to pick up the slack. Here's my question...how much money is the school spending on being parents rather than on providing a sound education for the students which is actually their job? I would be remiss if I did not point out the obvious contradictions of less gym time, less recess time and crap food served in the cafeteria (which admittedly has improved but is still not up to par with what I would consider healthy). If the state is going to tell the school to measure and report on BMI then the state should also provide the funding to keep gym in the curriculum more than once a week or less and completely overhaul what is being served in the cafeteria. Cut recess time to spend more time in Math class or leave recess alone so the kids can get the exercise they need to maintain a healthy lifestyle? I think it's time the schools and the state decide on their priorities and perhaps try and line them up with the realities of what their jobs entail...which is not to report on whether my kid is overweight or not. (By no means am I a proponent of cutting recess for any reason; I am just pointing out the conflict and mixed messages that are being sent).

The report that is sent home says that BMI may not offer a complete picture of your child. If this is true, and again, if the schools must be involved, why aren't they doing other things to measure and report on this? Perhaps it is because they can't. A complete picture can not be taken without all of the facts. How does the school know how much physical activity my child gets outside of school, whether they eat whole grains, or if they eat their vegetables? A complete picture is simply not possible when school officials only see the kids for 6 odd hours a day. So I ask, why bother reporting on only one piece of what could be a very complicated puzzle?

I also find it hard to believe the reporting is having any positive effect on the obesity problem. Any good pediatrician has been reporting to parents on this type of thing for years and what good has it done? The obesity problem has only increased. As my wise mother pointed out on my Facebook post, you don't need a measurement to determine if you are overweight, all you need is a mirror. Does anyone actually think that the very parents this new initiative is trying to target are going to be jolted in to action as a result of these reports? Clearly, the reporting is meant to target those slacker parents who aren't doing their job. I highly doubt a report from the school is going to change their entire way of life.

This is just one of many examples in which the school and state have had to assume the responsibilities that have been neglected by some parents. It's difficult not to wonder how much their academic education has suffered because of all the time, money and effort that has had to be spent on this. Hey slacker parents, it's time to step up!

1 comment:

Mark Belanger said...

I'm in favor of the BMI report - or at least no against it.

I look at it like smoking. Your doctor and spouse tell you to stop and you don't. Over the years you get more negative feedback and gain greater understanding of the health risks. Finally (hopefully) you reach a tipping point and actually quit.

The same may be true for obesity. Maybe the school BMI report will be a tipping point for some parents. Childhood obesity leads to adult obesity. It's a serious health epidemic that has many downsides to our economy beyond the human toll.

There hopefully will be some parents who see the BMI report before their child becomes very overweight and takes corrective action in the early stages.