Are Bulletproof Backpacks the Next School Security Trend?
- By Ginger Hill
- Jun 19, 2014
Remember when school supply shopping was so awesome because you got new Crayola Crayons and if you were really good, a box of markers? What a pretty picture you could color when you outlined each image with marker and then filled it in with the corresponding color of crayon. The nostalgic days of school supply shopping have now been taken over with fear of bullets flying across school campuses and what can be bought to protect students from these little pieces of metal.
Companies like Mighty Mojo, ProTecht, BulletBlocker and BodyGuard are attempting to balance keeping school children safe while making a profit by retailing items such as bulletproof backpacks, backpack inserts, blankets and whiteboards. But, with price points from the hundreds into the thousands, this tags a huge burden on parents when fulfilling school supply list requirements. Besides that, schools typically don’t have a huge budget for security-related items, opting for video surveillance camera systems, door locks, etc. to give them the most bang for their buck.
Critics of these bullet-proof items don’t believe these companies understand a typical school day. Most schools require students to keep their backpacks in their lockers or cubbies, so in case of a violent gun-related incident, students are not likely to have their backpacks with them, basically rendering them useless for their intended purpose.
Michael Dorn, executive director of Safe Havens International, a non-profit organization that conducts school safety assessments, has been approached with these product pitches, but he supports the fact that they’re not cost-effective security tools. Instead, Dorn encourages better drill processes and student supervision, complete with practicing evacuation drills by putting students in double rows and walking briskly out of the building. This allows students to get to safety quicker.
School staff should also be trained to identify early warning signs of troubled students and given the proper resources to connect children and their families to mental health services.
Cost of Items
- Bulletproof backpacks = over $200;
- Bulletproof backpack inserts from Mighty Mojo = $149.95;
- Bulletproof blankets = $1,000; and
- Bulletproof whiteboards = $300.
Disadvantages of Items
- Backpacks are heavy and only provide protection from behind;
- Bulletproof blankets are to be distributed to students during an emergency to use as a shield, but the sides of the students are exposed; and
- Bulletproof whiteboards are intended to be placed near the classroom door for the teacher to grab and fend off an intruder, meaning that the teacher must maneuver into a defensive position in time to protect students.
I guess anything that will help is better than nothing, but are these products really practical and serve a purpose in our schools?
Ginger Hill is Group Social Media Manager.