I’m a mother of four, and the recent uptick in school shootings left me terrified.
Sure, I know that the odds of one of my kids being hurt in a school shooting are incredibly low. So low in fact that my kids would be far more likely to be killed in an attack from a neighborhood dog (which doesn’t keep me up at night).
But knowing the odds still doesn’t help very much when I receive a message from my child’s school informing me that they are in lockdown.
After getting three such messages this year, my husband and I decided that we needed to do something about it.
Now, I have always taught my kids to be independent and to take care of themselves.
This includes everything from my sons knowing how to cook their own food to my daughters knowing how to handle themselves if a boy gets too close for comfort at a high school party. I’m a certified firearms instructor, and all of my kids know how to both use a gun and respect one. I’m confident that my children will be able to hold their own in most situations.
But if an armed and angry shooter walks into one of their schools, that’s a different matter altogether.
I think that it’s the school’s ultimate responsibility to keep my children safe while they attend their classes. And I am trying to work with my children’s school district to advocate additional precautions being added to their schools--whether that’s a high-strength security film installed on the windows and doors or school police officers located at each school building.
But, I know how long it can take for a large organization to get anywhere, and I don’t want my kids to stay vulnerable while the higher-ups try to come to a unanimous decision.
I needed to do something myself.
I started looking at what options I had as a mother to protect my children while they were away at school, and I had to admit, it was hard to find much at first.
I had specific criteria for the solution I was looking for:
- I needed something that wouldn’t scare my child or other students,
- It couldn’t attract undue attention,
- It needed to be very easy for my child to use and carry with them every day,
- It had to provide real protection to my kids in the event of an active shooter, and
- It had to fit within my budget.
Fortunately, after spending several hours online, I found exactly what I was looking for:
The official title of this product is “Rockwell Backpack w/ Bulletproof Insert." It's essentially a cool backpack with a special pocket for a Vertrad Bulletproof Backpack Insert and two grab handles on the rear (that allow you to hold the backpack like a shield).
Frankly, they're awesome.
First, my two boys love how cool these backpacks look (but they don't scream "tactical" or "bulletproof"). And my kids think it’s really fun to be secretly bulletproof each day when they go to school.
Second, the bulletproof backpack inserts that Vertrad uses for these bags are super lightweight and flexible. I could honestly give these backpacks to my kids, and they wouldn’t ever know that they were bulletproof unless I told them.
Third, even though a bulletproof backpack can seem sort of gimmicky, the inserts they use are rated to stop pretty much all handgun rounds up to a .44 magnum (an NIJ Level IIIA for those of you who are familiar with that terminology). While these won’t stop a rifle round, handguns are by far the most common weapon in a school shooting (and it would be absurd to expect a child to carry one of those heavy steel rifle plates in their backpack).
On a side note, Vertrad does sell bulletproof backpack inserts separately in case you wanted to add protection to a different bag (like the trendy shoulder bag that one of my teenage daughters used to prefer over a standard backpack).
Now, my kids use these as their normal school backpacks, and I can feel a lot more comfortable sending them out each morning. The next time I get a message about one of their schools being in lockdown, I’ll still worry, but I’ll know that I’ve done what I can to protect them.