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School Backpack Shields~ The New Norm?
While watching the evening news, trying to decompress (yes I know irony) a story came on that caught my attention. This particular story was about an eighth-grade school principal buying her 8th-grade students, tactical bulletproof backpack shields. I almost spit out my drink, so much for decompressing as my blood pressure hit the roof. As I watched the news story I couldn’t help but be bothered by it.
Let me start by saying I am not naive to the safety concerns of school administrators. While volunteering as PTA president at my daughter’s elementary school, one of our campus projects was funding a campus surveillance system. The project was requested by our principal and backed by our board. Unfortunately, I am also aware of the threats made to our schools on a personal level. My children had school absences this year because of threats made to their schools. So by no means am I underestimating the safety concerns of our schools or children.
The New Norm? So Many Questions…
What struck me first about the news story, was the children’s faces when they were initially handed the vests, confusion and sadness are the best words to describe their faces. I’m not sure of the circumstances but, were they allowed to refuse them? Did the parents receive an education about the backpacks first?
I have so many questions regarding these backpack shields. One being, the distribution of these backpacks and the parental involvement, Were the parents notified beforehand? Were the parent given a right of refusal? Did the teachers have a vote in the issue of shields? Where did the funds come from? Were they allocated? Was there PTA/SA involvement? Was a climate survey taken?
As a society Are we accepting the new norm of fear and understanding that this is the future of educational environments? Why are we not getting to the bottom of the problem of what incites these shooters and shootings?
Again, I understand the principal is trying to keep her students safe but does that backpack ensure their safety? Will the students and educators have the wear with all to actually know how to use them in a crisis? We’ve all seen the videos, most of the time the students are running out of the buildings. Are the students, teachers, staff etc receiving an education as to how to utilize these shields in an emergency? More questions!
Are we just perpetuating more anxiety in students and increasing mental instability which I personally believe is the root issue of all of this. What message does this send the students? Does the distribution of shields tell the students “We know this will probably happen, so here you go…good luck!” And we send them out the door with their lunchboxes for the day? Are these backpack shields just instilling a false sense of security in our children?
The most disturbing to me about all of this is the availability of these types of shields. Maybe I was ignorant about this, but in looking for an image for this article I came across dozens of websites that sell these including Amazon. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking the great corporate smiling box, I’m merely asking once again…Is this the new norm? My Amazon cart containing Paper Towels, Doritos, and Bulletproof Backpack Shield?
In researching facts for this article I also found out that more and more school districts are allocating funds for tactical items. Our lawmakers are also following suit For example on May 23 Louisiana lawmakers signed a bill (SB178 you can check it out HERE) allowing students to wear bulletproof backpacks.
Why are we tolerating this as a society? Why are we accepting of this behavior, It’s almost as if we have given up to the violence. As parents, administrators, students, and society as a whole, we cannot be accepting of this new reality.