Charlottesville Schools suspend student weigh-ins

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (NEWSPLEX) -- The Charlottesville City Schools district has suspended two controversial practices following a meeting of the School Health Advisory Board. Schools will no longer weigh students and take away recess as punishment.

The changes are thanks to the work of one mother.

Christa Bennett started a petition to stop the school weigh-ins after she learned her own child had been weighed during gym class. She also petitioned to stop schools from punishing kids with no recess.

The school district said the weigh-ins started as part of the 1998 Presidential Fitness Test. Once the test was no longer mandatory, schools kept the weigh-ins going to monitor the health of students.

But following the SHAB meeting Tuesday night, the practice has been suspended.

"Children are already beginning to develop body image at a young age, even as young as six, studies have shown," said Bennett. "So we're going to make sure that that was done in a way that wasn't shaming or embarrassing a child."

"Kids are curious. They want to know and then they ask their friends," added Patrick Johnson, Health and PE Coordinator for Charlottesville Schools. "I think that's the flip side of the coin. Is it the reward worth the risk? Is the risk of the having that data worth a student having a possible body image or a student thinking that?"

As far as recess goes, district Superintendent Dr. Rosa Atkins made it clear city schools will not take recess away as punishment. Now schools are working to make sure all teachers are following the new policy.

Schools will also discuss other ways to monitor the health of students.

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