It's a sign of the times.
Not only is there a need to heighten security at schools with guards, cameras and visitor background checks. Now, some parents are arming their children with bulletproof backpacks.
News outlets are reporting an increase in the purchase of so-called "tactical backpacks" before the 2019-2020 school year.
"It's a sad sign of the fear that exists,'' said Dr. Joseph L. Ricca, superintendent at White Plains Central School District.
"There is no such thing as a bulletproof backpack,'' Ricca said. "Bullet-resistant, sure. I understand it gives (parents) a sense of security. But I'm concerned they think their children will somehow be impervious to gunfire."
Indeed, when a sheriff’s department recently tested Guard Dog Security’s $174 backpack’s ability to withstand gunshots, they found it was able to stop bullets from several handguns and pistols as advertised. But a rifle bullet went clean through it. Guard Dog backpacks are available at Office Depot and OfficeMax stores and online. One ad says the backpack "offers soft-armored construction that has been independently tested to be impervious to certain gunfire."
Other bulletproof backpacks on the market are equally ineffective against rifle shots — and given that mass shooters are increasingly favoring assault rifles such as the AR-15, students with bulletproof backpacks might end up no safer in a shooting scenario than those attending school with a standard, inexpensive brand.
"Kids shouldn't have to worry about things like that,'' Ricca added. "Come on. When we're talking about putting armor on children in school, we're going in the wrong direction. Can we talk about policy? We would much rather focus on the things kids need."