7 On Your Side

Parents arm kids with bulletproof backpacks

Friday, April 26, 2013

Since the Sandy Hook tragedy, keeping children safe from gun violence is top of mind for many communities. Now there is a controversial new option for parents to consider -- bulletproof backpacks for their kids.

Binders, pencils and rulers are on most back-to-school shopping lists. Now, some parents are adding bulletproof backpacks, but is pint-sized armor going too far?

On an ordinary school day for Demetric Boykin who gets his 4-year-old daughter, Jaliyah, ready for school. It's ordinary... except for Jaliyah's brand new backpack, which is bulletproof.

"This is superwoman's cape," said Demetric to Jaliyah.

Despite the girly, pink fabric and pretty patterns adorning it, the backpack offers military grade protection against bullets and costs about $300. It is made in Colombia.

"So if they were to come into your classroom with guns, you put this on and this would stop the bullets," said Demetric to Jaliyah.

The Boykins live in Aurora, Colorado, the site of last July's movie theater shooting. Demetric says is the best choice for his family.

"This was the easiest thing that I could do to keep my arm around her," said Demetric.

However, even some parents in the Bay Area are considering buying similar gear for their kids.

Ludette Storozinski's son attended Hillsdale High School in San Mateo where four years ago a student brought weapons and pipe bombs to campus. She likes the idea of arming her kids with a ballistic backpack.

"You don't want something to happen for you to take action. You have to take the action, be proactive," said Storozinski.

Kris Jacob owns the San Rafael gun range and gun store, Bull's Eye. There, families are taught how to safely handling guns and stay safe in an emergency.

"Since Sandy Hook in the first quarter of 2013, we've seen a 20-percent increase in the number of folks that have come into the training program. And those folks, I would say, at least 25 percent of them have had some questions about how to better protect their young ones in school," said Jacob. He says parents are asking about bulletproof backpacks. "We have to sort of work with the parents and educate ourselves about what their specific situation is and then try to provide options and solutions for that specific situation."

Bulletproof backpacks are not sold widely in stories. In fact, to get one, you have to look online. Prices range between $200-$300 and they weigh around three pounds.

Dan Larsen of San Francisco thinks anything to help keep his son and daughter safe is a good idea.

"A backpack would be easy to explain to him to say, 'Go grab your backpack, put it in front of you,'" said Larsen.

But other parents we talked to feel like bulletproof backpacks for kids is an extreme reaction.

Maureen Tecson from Newark is a parent and teacher.

"You want to create a positive atmosphere, not really predicting something bad is always going to be happening," said Tecson.

Gloria Lee of San Francisco has triplets in preschool.

"Hopefully, I would select a school in an area where they are safe enough where I would not need to worry about it. Because if I do need to worry about it, I'd really need to reconsider what school they were attending," said Lee.

"It's something that I hate that I even have to imagine, but it's something that I realize is reality with today," said Demetric.

There are just a few armor companies that are starting to market these bulletproof backpacks for kids.

Here is one company: MC Kids Ballistic Backpack

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Tags:
school shooting, guns, connecticut school shooting, 7 on your side, michael finney
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