Laura Williams was shocked to find her daughter looking in the mirror and pulling at her skin, examining her own body. When she asked her daughter why she cared about the way she looked, little Gwendolyn showed her a “fitnessgram” that the school had sent home with her several days before.
The school handed out envelopes with the student’s names on them and said “don’t open these, hand them to your parents.” But seriously, what 9-year-old isn’t going to open a letter with their name on it? What Gwendolyn found inside made her self-conscious and brought other students to tears.
The school labeled Gwendolyn as “overweight” according to her Body Mass Index (BMI) and labeled heavier children as “obese.” The school defended the program saying that they were helping parents keep their children healthy and reiterated that the children were instructed not to open the letters.
One parent says the school should have known better and could have mailed the letters home instead. Another says that it isn’t the school’s business to decide if a student is healthy – that’s the job of their pediatrician. If the child’s doctor isn’t concerned, why does the school think that their BMI measurement is more accurate than a licensed professional?
Other parents double-checked their children’s BMIs with their pediatricians and even used online calculators to find that whatever method the school used had been wrong.
Forcing children to care about the way they look at 9 years of age is making a lot of parents angry. Being unhealthy is one thing, but leave that to the pediatricians – the school, Mrs. Williams says, shouldn’t be doing this at all.
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