Do bulletproof backpack inserts work? What parents need to know

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When the kids head back to the classroom, bulletproof backpack inserts for kids are an item on the back-to-school checklist for some concerned parents. The stakes are designed to shield a student in the event that a person opens fire on school property.

The United States has faced an alarming number of mass shootings this year — nearly 500 so far — and there were 113 school shootings in 2022, resulting in 41 deaths and 82 injuries. In late May, Uvalde, Texas, made national headlines when a gunman opened fire at an elementary school, killing 19 children and two teachers.

Parents want to be sure that their children are safe. Buying a bulletproof backpack is a way for parents to take matters into their own hands. But are they effective? Here’s what you should know if you’re considering buying one for your child in the upcoming school year.

Bulletproof backpack panels are made of flexible ballistic fiber material that is marketed as providing similar protection to someone wearing body armor or a bulletproof vest. Most brands of bulletproof backpacks are categorized as Type IIIA by the National Institute of Justice, meaning they can withstand bullets from any handgun, including a .44 Magnum.

Glen Bhimani, CEO and founder of BPS Security, says a bulletproof backpack insert doesn’t fully absorb the impact and the child is likely to bruise where the bullet would have hit them. Despite this, they are designed to prevent bullets from injuring skin or penetrating a child’s body, thus saving his life. “You’re meant to be [a] Protection for vital organs and will either deflect or stop a bullet,” he explains. “All in all, I think they’re a solid investment for parents and schools.”

Related: How to talk to children about active target practice at school

A bulletproof backpack usually consists of two parts: the book bag and the insert. The insert inserts into the back of the pack where it stays in place with a zipper, Velcro, or other closure method. The liner should fit snugly to the pocket with little room to maneuver. The insert can be easily removed if necessary.

You can also buy the insert separately if you already have a book bag. However, do not forget to check whether the dimensions of the insert will fit in your child’s backpack.

Bhimani explains that one appealing feature for parents is that it’s small and a minimally invasive tool that kids can carry around school.

Deployment is intended as a defense, not a weapon. Mom Cassie Walton went viral on TikTok after posting a video of her 5-year-old son showing how to use the bulletproof backpack insert in a home target practice session.

As seen in the video, you would hold the backpack against your chest with your arms through the backpack straps. For maximum safety, children should keep their heads in the space between their body and the backpack.

It’s important to note that bulletproof backpacks only serve as a defense when a child is carrying one – and ideally on the front of their body. As backpacks are often placed in compartments, you may want to explain to your child that they should try to grab their backpack – but only if they are sure.

Related: Teacher’s hockey puck plan to deter an active shooter goes viral

You can buy bulletproof backpacks online through Amazon, a bulletproof backpack brand’s website, or shop in person at these major retailers:

  • Walmart
  • Dick’s sporting goods
  • bed bath beyond
  • staples
  • home depot
  • office depot

While there is no price for a child’s life, be prepared to pay some. A liner alone can cost around $100, and bulletproof backpacks with liners included can cost up to $500. Some popular brands are more expensive but are highly rated for their effectiveness in absorbing the impact of a bullet.

“They work as long as you don’t skimp and buy the cheapest product on the market,” says Bhimani. “Unfortunately there are many inferior products that are not as useful as the higher quality insoles/backpacks. So if you are planning to buy this for your child, make sure you are buying from a reputable company.”

Here is a list of recommended brands for a bulletproof backpack insert

Related: 20 Best Backpacks For Kids – From Preschool And Beyond

Boaz Munnerlyn, the CEO of Simpler Life Emergency Provisions, says that “bulletproof backpack inserts absolutely work,” which is why they’re in such demand this coming school season.

Despite its apparent prevalence, the chances of a school shooting occurring are less than a school illness or a life-threatening sports injury. In addition, according to NBC Newsmilitary-style rifles have been used in place of handguns in recent school shootings, making backpacking operations less effective.

Despite this, no parent ever wants their child to be killed by gun violence. Purchasing just one backpack insert alone can be enough to allay your fears and fears that your child will be caught in the crossfire.

“Everyone thinks that a disaster like an active shooter can’t happen to them until it happens. It’s sad that we have to worry at all about such an event, but it is today’s grim reality,” Munnerlyn said. “And while there’s no way parents can prevent tragedy and disaster, at least they can prepare their children for the worst, just in case.”

Beyond a school shooting, the bulletproof backpack inserts can also protect against other forms of violence, according to both experts. The backpack insert can protect a child when someone brings a knife to school or tries to fight it.

Bottom Line: It doesn’t hurt to be prepared for even a rare occurrence like a school shooting, but of course the kid has to wear the backpack for it to be effective. According to Munnerlyn, “People who are prepared suffer less when bad things happen.”

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