Where Do You Fall In the Controversy Over Clear Plastic or Bullet Proof School Backpacks For Our Grandchildren or Neither At All

It is easy to want to put school shootings out of your mind.  Then school starts and the issue is again in front of you or put in front of you on the front page of the New York Times, “Make Sure You Duck Behind Your Backpack: Back-to-School Season Pains a Mother Who Saw a Massacre,” by Eli Saslow, September 28, 2023.

I do not know how you react, but the New York Times article and this issue gives this grandma of six grandchildren heart palpitations. Maybe it is because of the shootings in our South Florida backyard, when 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, a former student at Stoneman Douglas High School, in the otherwise quiet bedroom community of Parkland, opened fire on students and staff at the school, killing 17, and injuring 17, adults and students.  All over our local news were and are the deaths and the aftermaths on the families of the dead, the survivors and their families, and the highly emotional trial.  Now the newspaper coverage continues locally of finally knocking down the 1200 Building where the shootings occurred and remained a grim and horrific reminder of that day, to preserve evidence for the trial for years after the murders.  This Grandma even knows the name of the building and cannot wait until it is finally gone.

Everyone says we don’t want our loved ones in danger when they go to school, but danger is the reality. I researched school shootings data. 

“Will school shootings in 2023 outpace last year’s record high? There have been more shootings with more victims in the first three months of 2023 than the same period last year,” according to senior reporter, Naaz Modan, K-12 Dive, April 4, 2023.

He writes, “[i]f trends from the past five decades continue for the remainder of the year, there would be about 400 shootings in 2023, outpacing last year’s record high of 273.”

In Broward County Florida, the recent debate was whether to mandate clear backpacks, as a protective measure, which policy was supposed to go into effect August 21, 2023, for the current school year, and apply to all students, grades pre-K through 12.  After many organizations and parents prepared to comply, the Broward County School Board reversed the clear backpack requirement.  There is an interesting, if you can call ideas to address school shootings interesting, article in the South Florida Sun Sentinel article, “A clear mess: How Broward schools’ failed backpack plan cost parents and taxpayers,” by Scott Travis, September 28, 2023.

This quote from the article is significant:

“Regardless of how serious the district’s weapons problem is, there was little research to suggest that clear backpacks were an effective solution. National safety experts, including one the district hired in the wake of Parkland, referred to them in media reports as ineffective and “security theater.” One 2016 study suggested they may actually make schools less safe because it signals to students they can’t be trusted.”

This grandma found a huge number of links to buy clear plastic backpacks, and one grandchild goes to a school that requires them, but this Grandma is not looking for “security theater” just real security, if that even exists.

In New York Times article, the mother researched and bought backpacks with bullet proof shields in the rear compartment of the backpacks that seem to protect against a single bullet from a handgun fired at 857 mph, from a rifle from 15 feet away, and for rounds from an A.R. 15. “Not Penetrated,” she read from a manual for each.  Bulletproof backpacks are legal to own in all 50 states. This grandma was interested in knowing more.

For all you want to know about bullet proof shields, their supposed effectiveness, their weights, separate from or in backpacks, and more protective gear, check out the website, Atomic Defense, skip the items for sale first, and scroll down to the charts and information about any and all of them. 

A website called Body Armour News reports:

“According to a Morning Consult Poll for NBC News, nearly 40% of adults in the U.S. say they’re very worried about a shooting occurring at their child’s school. And nearly half of American adults say they would definitely buy their child a bulletproof backpack.”

One expert quoted does not recommend against using them, despite the fact that the backpacks cannot protect against rifle rounds, and, if had a child attending school, and the ballistic panels weren’t too heavy, would be in favor of providing the extra protection of his child.  This is on a website promoting such gear.

Scary Mommy, Arielle Tschinkel, on her blog of August 23, 2022, gives a scary (pun intended) opposite viewpoint and sets forth good points against effectiveness of such backpacks in her post, “Bulletproof Backpacks Probably Wouldn’t Keep Kids Safe In A School Shooting, Say Experts: What parents should know about the ballistic protection levels of these pricey and increasingly popular back-to-school items.”

Her end point is that it is the responsibility of the legislators and schools to protect the children.

My sister-in-law, when I spoke to her of my research, mentioned putting air tags in back packs to keep track of the children, to protect against theft as well, which this Grandma had not thought of.

This blog post is just to provide research and links for information about the issue, to pass along or not.  In the meantime, it is the parents who will have to decide the pros and cons of purchasing items for protection for school age grandchildren themselves.  It is the hard responsibility part of parenting, that we grandparents already did. That will not prevent grandparent worrying. . . ..

With little joy,


Please follow and like us:
Pin Share

Speak Your Mind


Follow by Email