Sacrificing safety at the altar of fashion

The following conversation happens with me more often than I care for.

Me: Hey, why aren’t you wearing your helmet?

Friend/Cousin/Nephew/Niece/Student: I’m not going to the main road. It’s only a short way, will be back soon. Moreover, there’re no policemen in the route I’m going to take.


Friend/Cousin/Nephew/Niece/Student: My hairstyle is going to get spoilt, it’s only a short way from here.

The notion that one wears a helmet for the fear of being caught by the police is absurd. And, when did preserving a hairstyle become more important than safeguarding a brain? Wearing a helmet while riding a two-wheeler is solely for the safety of the head, period. It seems common sense to me. Strangely and unfortunately though, I find fewer and fewer people who have this common sense. It pains me to see parents of teenagers ok with them not wearing helmets when they are riding short distances. It certainly sets a wrong precedent when responsible adults do not insist that young children follow safety rules. The youngsters themselves are influenced by their peers and find some sense of adventure in flaunting rules, to the extent that those who follow rules are labelled uncool/old-fashioned.

Another pet peeve for me is students of all ages wearing heavy backpacks in the wrong way. They either sling their backpacks on one shoulder using a single strap or wear the backpacks such that the bulk of the backpack hangs below their waist line and sometimes even below their hip line. Both of these practices put unnecessary pressure on the shoulders and affect the strength of the spine and thereby posture. When I ask them why they wear their backpacks that way, they say that’s the fashion, everyone their age wears it that way. And not surprisingly, they believe wearing it the safe way makes them uncool.

The right way to wear a backpack (whether light or heavy) is to wear both the straps squarely on the shoulders and have the centre of mass concentrated roughly on the centre of the spine. The following image illustrates clearly the healthy way to wear a backpack.

These are only 2 instances of everyday safety being neglected due to indifference on the part of adults and ignorance on the part of children.

I therefore implore to all adults who are around children to:

  • firstly, follow safety rules yourselves (no matter how pointless they might seem)
  • secondly, to educate children on the importance of following safety rules both by instruction and practice

It is these small things accumulated over a period of time that affect the overall health of our children, not to mention the lapse of following a rule (especially traffic rules) can sometimes result in as grave a consequence as the loss of a life.

-Dr. Soumyashree S., Co-Founder, President-Research & Development  BRAINSTARS

Image courtesy


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