by Judy Chaney

As some of our students head back to school at a very uncertain time, we have to remind ourselves of days past. Last year, we were busy with notebooks, markers and also the very daunting issue of school shootings. As we continue to keep our children safe and healthy, we need to be mindful of some of the tragic events that have happened at schools in recent years. At Sandy Hook elementary school, 28 students and teachers were murdered by an active shooter. The Columbine high school massacre where 15 students and faculty were killed and also Marjory Stoneman Douglas, where 17 people were killed, and another 17 were injured. These are just a few of the tragic results of active shooters in schools.

If you are sending your child back to school with a backpack that helps to protect them during an active shooter situation, you need to be educated. Once you have made the conscious decision to purchase one of these items, make sure you know what you are getting. There are several things that you need to consider.

Armor is rated by level. The higher the level, the more protection it provides. Soft armor is generally a level IIIA or below, and hard armor is a level III and above; the higher the number, the greater the level of protection. Armor is rated at level I, II, IIIA, III, IV and V.

Level IIIA WILL NOT STOP an AR 15 Rifle round. You have to have a Level III. Levels IV and V are only provided to the military.

All of the schools mentioned above shootings were conducted using high powered rifles.

Body armor can be made from several different materials. It can be made from steel, ceramic or synthetic/UHMWPE (Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene) plastic. When considering these materials, understand that steel is inexpensive but very heavy. Ceramic is the most costly and also can break. The other option is polyethylene. This is the most durable, lightweight, reasonably priced material and can go through a metal detector.

For an incredibly affordable and effective option, a good option for parents to look at is A Safe Pack. A Safe Pack was created by a “Mom” and her retired Veteran husband to keep their children safe. These are polyethylene, level III, lightweight inserts that can easily slide into any laptop compartment of a backpack. These inserts can be moved to a different backpack each year as your child’s taste changes. The children are taught to put their backpack on during an active shooter situation and act like a turtle, pulling arms legs and head in creating a “safe shell” on their back. A Safe Pack has also created a mascot turtle named “Tank America’s Super Turtle”. Tank helps talk to kids about this difficult subject matter and how his shell keeps him safe and your shell can keep you safe.

Gallup states, “(the) majority of parents think that a school shooting could occur in their community.” School violence continues to be tragically thrust into the news and parents pessimistically believe nothing can prevent the shootings. In the event of an active shooter attack, you may be looking for additional defense. A body armor backpack is just one more layer of security to keep our children safe.