House Bill 1406 passed and will now require every school board in the state of Virginia to “annually provide parent educational information regarding eating disorders for pupils in grades five through twelve,” as stated in the bill.
The Virginia Department of Health has teamed up with the Virginia Department of Education to propose the bill and carry out it’s objective: schools begin notifying parents about eating disorders. With the utilization of various resources, the collaboration should help prevent and treat eating disorders among school-aged kids.
According to CNN Health, the number of hospitalizations because of eating disorder symptoms, behaviors, and negative consequences for kids twelve-years-old and younger has increased by 119% from 1999 to 2006. Additionally, 80% of all ten-year-olds have some anxiety about being fat, and 42% of all first through 3rd grade girls want to be thinner.
House Bill 1406 is an attempt to help prevent more young people from feeling the same way.
The Department of Health can educate teachers and other educational professionals on the signs and symptoms of eating disorder behavior so that early detection can begin in school, where kids spend most of their time. To continue that care in the students’ lives, educators can pass along information to the parents. This way, if a child is presenting one way at school and maybe a different way at home, there are many adults around who are informed about what to look for and what various behaviors are indicating in the child.
Information sent home to the parents of school-aged children in Virginia will inform them of the signs to look for in their kids. Also, the information includes what treatment is available, where treatment can be most easily accessed, and other helpful resources when signs of an eating disorder have been spotted. Early detection is key in treating an eating disorder.
The Virginia House Bill also allows each school district to determine whether or not it wants to create an eating disorder screening program in the area’s schools. The tests are not physical. Instead, the trained educator knows what risky behaviors to look for that can indicate the start of, or the existence of, an eating disorder in each student.
Blog Post By: Jared Friedman