Back-to-school season is finally here!
The aisles are full of familiar sights, like character lunch boxes and binders. However, in the midst of all the familiarity is an item we never would have imagined needing when we were growing up: bulletproof backpacks.
Since Sandy Hook in 2012, more than 180 shootings have taken place on school campuses across the United States. Along with learning tornado and fire drills, students now engage in active shooter or school intruder drills. As a result of the seemingly constant shootings, children are nervous and parents are worried. In fact, a CNN study shows that school shootings will continue without any noticeable decrease, so people are right to feel concerned.
This is America though, and if we see a need, we create a product.
In this instance, manufacturers have released bulletproof backpacks and bullet-resistant bag inserts. These items hit shelves years ago, but they see spikes in sales after mass shootings and during back-to-school season. Companies such as Bullet Blocker, TuffyPacks, and Guard Dog Security design and sell these now-crucial items.
Sadly, back-to-school aisles prominently featuring bulletproof backpacks is the reality these days. If the shootings continue (and statistics show that they aren’t slowing down anytime soon), the day may come when utilitarian black bags are a child’s only backpack option.
The number of rounds these backpacks protect children from vary, but none protect against assault rifle-type weapons. The backpacks are also expensive, with price points beginning at around $99 and only increasing from there. With that said, these packs ask us to put a price on children’s safety. Should we force parents to pay exorbitant amounts to keep their children safe?
The most disturbing part of the bulletproof backpack phenomenon is how unsurprising it is.
School shootings have become a part of everyday life for Americans. We live in a world where children hide in bathrooms to save their life not from tornadoes, but guns. Kids now bring bulletproof backpacks to class to save themselves from the seemingly inevitable: that someone will try to take their life.
We’re past sugarcoating school shootings.
They put real, innocent lives at stake, so we must take action now. We must create change to minimize lives lost and reduce the need for bulletproof products. At the end of the day, kids should be kids, not tiny soldiers hiding from their worst enemies.
This article was written in collaboration with Laura Herndon.