Bulletproof Backpacks Are Now a School Supply Item, But Are Schools Safer?
It’s August and for millions of young Americans, the first day of the new school year is just around the corner. Time for parents to stock up on all those school supplies. Time for new clothes, pens, pencils, notebooks, highlighters, and bulletproof backpacks. Wait, what?
Yes, bulletproof backpacks have become a very real thing. Over the past year, many major news outlets have been reporting on these safety devices, and testing whether these specialized backpacks can really stop a bullet. We live in the internet age and sure, you can order basically anything you can think of online. From eBay to Etsy to Amazon, the internet is full of obscure and unique items. But how common are so-called bulletproof backpacks?
Surely this is a fringe item that has to be custom made. Actually, they’ve become popular enough that major retailers such as Walmart and Home Depot are now making them available to customers. There’s a lot of conversation on the topic and certainly no shortage of opinions. Honestly, I’m not sure what to think about this new trend.
It’s certainly understandable that parents want to do everything they possibly can to protect their children. If you can give your son or daughter a chance to protect themselves in the event that the unthinkable happens, many see this as a no-brainer.
On the other hand, many parents don’t want to traumatize their children by making them think that they need to carry what essentially amounts to a piece of body armor. In particular, with young children this could be an incredibly difficult conversation to have. In perusing articles on this topic, I came across one parent who broached the subject by making an analogy to a comic book hero. Rather than talking about gun violence specifically, she told her son who is entering the third grade that the armored backpack was like Captain America’s shield.
School shootings have become far too common in this country. In recent years, there have been a staggering number of these heartbreaking tragedies. Earlier this year, tragedy struck in our own backyard with the Santa Fe high school shooting. Many school districts are taking measures to make their schools safer for students. Schools are installing security doors, redesigning entrances, performing lockdown drills, staffing more police officers, and there’s even been a national discussion about arming teachers.
There’s not an easy solution to the problem of gun violence, particularly in schools. Parents are looking for new ways to protect their kids such as bulletproof backpacks. These backpacks have clearly entered the mainstream. Companies are reporting sales increases of as much as 300% over the past year. While I don’t know what to think about these new armored backpacks, there obviously remains a deeper underlying problem to address.
Violence and mental health issues seem to be at the root of the problem, and preventative measures like bulletproof backpacks are more of a Band-Aid than a solution. That’s not to say that they’re a bad idea. Anything that could potentially keep kids safe is worth exploring. However, these products are not something that’s going to eradicate the underlying issue of senseless violence. Until we as a society find a way to eliminate this problem, people will continue to search for new ways to keep students safe.
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