Since 2013, there have been over 200 shootings in American schools, with the most recent occurring last Thursday at an Atlanta high school.
One Florida school is responding to the disturbing trend by giving their students the option to line their backpacks with extra protection. The Miami Herald reported that Florida Christian School (FCS) in Miami is selling “bulletproof panels” for children to insert in their backpacks in case of a lockdown or a mass shooting.
FCS told CNN that the ballistic panels give children “another level of protection … in the event of an active shooter.”
The armor costs $120 and could potentially save someone’s life.
George Gulla, the school’s head of security, began working at Florida Christian School post-Sandy Hook shooting in 2012. He began his work using his 27 years of law enforcement experience to install “new security measures to soothe anxious parents,” as he told The Miami Herald. Gulla jumpstarted drills that attempted to help prepare students for how to react in the case of an active shooter.
The Miami Herald reported that students were taught to “wear their backpacks on their chests and hold them close,” a tactic that will be even more effective with installed bulletproof panels. Gulla said:
“It’s just a tool. I’d rather be prepared for the worst than be stuck after saying ‘Wow, I wish we would’ve done that.'”
Weighing at just under a pound, the panels provide a bit more peace of mind for concerned parents. Books and binders may stop a bullet; however, that isn’t their intended design, so why take that added risk?
Florida Christian School isn’t the first school with its students utilizing bulletproof materials. However, expert on school security Kenneth Trump calls this particular arrangement “highly unusual.”
The Miami Herald reported that a school in Minnesota purchased bulletproof whiteboards for their classrooms. However, in the case of this particular Florida school, parents can purchase the backpacks directly from the school’s website and send their kids to school with them.
The Herald added that:
[Trump] worries that schools that focus on active shooter training have “tunnel vision” and don’t train as well for the more mundane security risks at schools, like a stranger picking up a student without permission.
“You’re bypassing grade school and jumping straight to grad school before you mastered the basics.”
Gulla, however, rebutted that statement, saying that all precautions should be taken and are crucial in creating an overall safe environment. As he told the Herald:
“It’s out of the norm, but what is the norm?”