As you prepare to send your child off to school, you often find yourself running through a mental checklist: Lunch? Check. Assignment Folder? Check. Backpack? Check. Bulletproof backpack? Wait, what? Never would you think it'd be necessary for a ballistic panel to be considered an everyday school essential, and yet here we are, living in the scariest of times. Is this the new normal?
Florida Christian School in Miami is now selling ballistic panels that are specifically designed to be inserted into students' backpacks. For $120, parents can purchase these slim, bullet-resistant inserts via the school’s website, which can be easily slipped into their children's bags and used as shields in the event of a school shooting.
Although the private, non-denominational school hasn't been directly impacted by any gun-related incidences, the decision to sell these plates was made in hopes of adding an extra precautionary measure to prepare the school and its students for the worst-case scenario.
According to George Gulla, the school's head of security, this is only one "tool" the school uses to aid in providing the best protection possible. In addition to practicing regular active-shooter drills, the school is also equipped with sound-enabled surveillance cameras and security guards regularly patrolling the grounds.
"I'd rather be prepared for the worst than be stuck after saying, ‘Wow, I wish we would’ve done that,’” Gulla told the Miami Herald.
During these drills, students are taught to use their backpacks to shield their chest and, although not required, it's offering many parents comfort and relief.
Unfortunately, bullet-proofing accessories in schools are becoming customary, as shootings are on the rise.
“We thought, yeah, let’s offer it to anyone who wants it. It’s not required. But it gives you extra peace of mind.”
Weighing less than a pound, these bullet-resistant backpack inserts are produced by Applied Fiber Concepts and are just one of many bulletproof accessory businesses providing protective products to schools.
Joe Curran founded Bullet Blocker a few years after Columbine, as he was "nervous" about his children's safety. The company produces a wide-range of products, including: bulletproof backpacks, clothing, briefcases, various inserts and panels. As reported by Marketplace, Curran sold around 20 backpacks before the Sandy Hook shootings, but in the three weeks after, he sold closer to 10,000.
Hardwire is another similar company selling bulletproof accessories to educational institutions. In particular, their whiteboards are becoming a popular purchase for many schools, including The University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Rocori School District in Minnesota.
Unfortunately, bullet-proofing accessories in schools are becoming customary, as shootings are on the rise. With each violent incident, it becomes more apparent what a cruel world we live in. Not even our little ones are safe—whether it be at school or elsewhere.
When commenting on this newly implemented practice of using bulletproof backpacks in his school, Gulla added, “It’s out of the norm, but what is the norm?”
Sadly, he's not wrong.