Why do Schools Need Lockers?

A school girl holding a folder and leaning against her locker.
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Schools are ditching the classic metal storage space and going lockerless, according Peter Lippman, an American Institute of Architects’ educational committee member, who spoke to "USA Today." With iPads loaded with electronic textbooks and other digital media, lockers might not seem necessary, but there are several reasons why schools should consider retaining them.

1 Backbreaking Books

Lockers help lighten the load caused by heavy backpacks. According to a 2012 study published in the "Archives of Diseases in Childhood," more than 60 percent of kids studied carried packs that weighed over 10 percent of their entire body weight and 1 in 5 had backpacks weighing over 15 percent of their body weight. A quarter of these students had lower back pain. According to CNN, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission found injuries caused by students lugging heavy backpacks, such as tripping, falling and chronic pain, reached 13,766 in 2011. The escalating number of child injuries from heavy backpacks caused the American Occupational Therapy Association to designate a National School Backpack Awareness Day to try to encourage schools to lighten their students' load. Allowing kids to store their books in lockers is one way to do that.

2 Storage Safety Issues

Mike Nelson, co-founder of Keys to Safer Schools, an Arkansas-based safety training and advocacy group, recommended in the "USA Today" article, “Hall Lockers? Some Schools Say No,” that school districts prevent gun violence and other crimes by removing lockers from schools. However, you can hide weapons in backpacks and schoolbags. Since ockers are school property, officials and teachers can easily subject them to random searches.

3 A Matter of Tween Style

Locker decorations, including locker wallpaper, fitted shag carpet and even mini chandeliers, are popular with middle school girls who see their lockers as forms of expression. While some experts worry that blinged-up lockers may be another way to make less popular students feel inferior, tweens and young teens are snapping up the chance to express themselves through locker décor. Having a locker that they can fill with what they want is a rite of passage, says Dr. Ann Edwards, principal of Rye Middle School, in "The New York Times" article "Middle School Girls Unlock a Room of Their Own, in Miniature."

4 Cost and Affordability

As expensive as it is to put lockers in new schools, the majority of buildings already have lockers available and need to use them, says Ronald Stephens, executive director of the National School Safety Center in California in an article for the "Sun Sentinel." In that same article, Principal Ira Margulies of Eagles Landing Middle School in Florida concedes it would be ideal if all schools could afford an extra set of books for the classroom and one for home, so lockers wouldn’t become unnecessary. However, budget constraints make that unrealistic.

Bonnie Crowe is a mother of two teenagers; a teacher and author of children's books, curriculum and articles on English grammar, literature, technology, art, parenting and career guides for high schoolers. She's a former director of AOL Parenting, a member of SCBWI, and a graduate from the University of California,Berkeley.