Bulletproof backpacks are a sad reality

Published 12:46 pm Thursday, May 26, 2022

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Editor’s Note: In the wake of the tragedy in Texas, we at the Tryon Daily Bulletin send our thoughts and prayers to the community of Uvalde. The following is a reprint of a 2019 column on the topic of school shootings that, sadly, is fitting commentary today as it was then.


The saddest commentary I have ever witnessed occurred Tuesday evening while I watched a segment on a national newscast reporting that the sales of bulletproof backpacks for children have spiked. I didn’t even know there were bulletproof backpacks. However, need is the mother of invention.

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Where are we? What have we become? Was it that long ago that back-to-school shopping for our children consisted of new outfits, shoes, notebooks, crayons, pens, and paper? 


I wanted to investigate further and underwent an online search. Right near the top of the page, I found the website bulletproofzone.com. Simply reading the use and descriptions of their products made my stomach clench.


“While there are many advantages to having a bulletproof shield, it’s still wise not to believe they will render you invincible. Since it’s readily accessible, some may develop the Superman complex.”


We can all wring our hands in despair and point accusatory fingers at the breakdown of families, violent films and video games, not to mention the rise in mental health illnesses … but these issues are not exclusive to America. Every country has violent video games, broken families and those who suffer from mental health illnesses. Every country has desperate people who fall through the cracks of society. Yet only America has the wholesale slaughter in which we are now living, week after week — sometimes three mass shootings in one week. 255 this year, so far.


“However, while bulletproof plates and shields may absorb the bullet’s impact, they must not be your defense’s first line in active shooter situations. If you’re involved in active shooter situations, you must still follow the practice of hide, run, and fight.”


Mothers, how do you parent today? How do you explain to a 6-year-old child, already apprehensive as were we all upon departing for our first day of school, that not only do you understand their reluctance to let go of your hand as they enter this strange new building into this strange new world of teachers and classrooms but that their backpack can double as a shield in case a bad man comes in and begins shooting?


“With the products like bulletproof backpack shields, you must run with this on your back to take any possible bullet spray toward the crowd. If you’re hiding, you may use the shield when covering essential body areas that might be exposed like your head or chest.”


One thing I know for sure, if I had young children today, I’d be homeschooling. I was an abysmal student who daydreamed through school, doodling horses, so my kids would be as dumb as rocks, but they’d be safe. But only at home. Who knows what might happen should they, or we, go to the movies, the farmers’ market, Walmart, for God’s sake?


I know I’m writing with a bit of a knee-jerk reaction. I know that. My soul is sickened and while of course I would champion any parent’s purchase of one of these backpacks if it adds a modicum of safekeeping to a child’s body, how do we protect our children’s brains? Studies tell us that currently one in eight children suffer from mental illness. One in eight. Are we creating, as we seek to protect our children from bullets, panic disorder? Separation anxiety? Social anxiety disorder? Obsessive-compulsive disorder? The list goes on and on with the results being devastating as they attempt to navigate into adolescence.


“You may also use the entire bag to hide you once wedged under the chair or desk. If you need to fight, use the shield in protecting yourself once you work in disarming the assailant.”


They’re just little kids. God Almighty, they’re just little kids.