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January 16, 2013

Armed teachers and bulletproof backpacks

Connie Matthiessen, Associate Editor

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You’re heading out the door to take your kids to school and you do a last minute double check: Lunch? Homework? Bulletproof backpack?

That’s right: now you can send your child to school with a bulletproof backpack to protect her “in case of the unthinkable,” as the website for Amendment II, the company that sells the backpack, so delicately puts it. You can purchase these satchels-turned-shields with the Avengers, Disney Princesses, and other designs.

After the Newtown tragedy, sales of the backpacks skyrocketed. Amendment II’s president told Mother Jones magazine: "I can't go into exact sales numbers, but basically we tripled our sales volume of backpacks that we typically do in a month — in one week.”

A “good guy with a gun” in every school?

Call me crazy, but the idea of sending my child off to school sporting a bulletproof backpack doesn’t increase my sense of security — quite the opposite.

Nor would it reassure me to know that my children’s teachers were carrying concealed weapons — but  such measures are being considered in at least 10 states around the country.  (Teachers in one tiny Texas town already pack guns.)

As Rebecca Peters, former director of the International Action Network on Small Arms, told the New York Times, “A society that is relying on guys with guns to stop violence is a sign of a society where institutions have broken down.”

Nonetheless, many school districts around the country have put armed security guards in schools since the Newtown shootings. Some juvenile justice groups don’t think that’s the answer, either, and warn the measures will result in more expulsions and “a declining sense of safety in schools,” according to The Center for Public Integrity's Susan Ferriss. 

No silver bullet

So what is the solution to school violence?

First, it’s important to keep the issue in perspective. As horrifying as incidents like the massacre in Newtown are, school violence is still relatively rare.

Today President Obama introduced his plan to curb gun violence, including specific steps to increase access to mental health services, which is essential if we're going to curb school violence.

There's no silver bullet that will solve the problem over night, but I’m certain of one thing: more guns is not the answer, no matter what the National Rifle Association (NRA) wants us to believe. Far more people in the U.S. die of violent deaths than in other country in the world — and most of these deaths involve guns.

I don’t think increasing the prevalence of guns at schools — and relying on more bulletproof gear for kids — is the answer, either.

What would you do if your school district was considering arming teachers and parents started buying bulletproof backpacks as a precaution? Would you go along with it or try to stop the madness?

Comments

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Call me crazy, but the idea of sending my child off to school sporting a bulletproof backpack doesn’t increase my sense of security — quite the opposite.

Thanks, ShootingTargets7 -- I completely agree with you!

Parents could not be blamed for these actions that they take after the Newtown tragedy.All they want is the security of their children.On the contrary, it is agreeable that it is not the solution because such incident is rare case.

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