Clear backpacks, a flawed solution you can see right through (Opinion)
I know they mean well. I know teachers and administration at our public schools have the same vested interest in preventing gun violence as parents and the kids themselves. After all, teachers have been among those killed too.
But what some districts in New Jersey are doing isn’t going to solve anything. South River is the latest school district to tell their students they need to start carrying their things in clear, transparent backpacks. So that things like handguns will be visible.
Except, they won’t be visible.
You can read the whole letter here.
Notice in this letter sent to parents where it says
“Small handbags for personal items are still allowed but should not exceed the size of a half sheet of paper.”
Also where it says
“Lunch boxes are allowed but should be left in locker/lunch bin until lunch time and returned at the end of lunch.”
So if you think you can’t fit a small handgun into either of those carriers you’d be wrong. And if you think someone who doesn’t care about the rule against shooting up a school will suddenly care about the rule on leaving lunch boxes in lockers you’d be delusional.
Or a gun could be rolled up inside a shirt and put in that clear backpack. Or tucked inside a 3-inch binder and put inside that same clear backpack.
Clear backpacks will stop nothing. Clear backpacks only accomplish making administrators feel like they’ve done something. In reality, a school is no safer.
They may even be worse off.
In 2016 a study was published in the Journal of School Violence that showed clear backpacks correlated to a school’s increase in violence. Some believe such policies send a message to students that they are untrustworthy and are expected to break serious safety rules. A self-fulfilling prophecy if you will.
One also has to remember many school shootings happen not after a gun is sneaked into a school and strategically drawn hours later, but rather the moment an attacker arrives with guns blazing. This was the case in Uvalde, Texas. The gunman made no effort to conceal his weapon.
If society wants to get serious about school shootings, the answer is not a quick fix. Nor is it outlawing all guns and doing house-to-house sweeps to melt them all down. As draconian as that is, it’s what many want. There are more guns in the United States than there are people. It’s the only nation on Earth where that is true.
So that genie isn’t going back in the bottle. You’ll never get even half the guns out of people’s homes. Don’t waste time on it.
Generally speaking the common denominator among school shooters is that they are loners who were bullied. Often horribly bullied. Backing up this theory is a correlation between increasing school violence and the timeline of the popularity of social media.
If you haven’t figured out by now that social media is allowing more ugliness in the world then you just haven’t been paying attention. Getting society to start being decent to each other and teach kids to stop being so damn cruel to each other is no quick fix.
At this point you wonder if it’s possible or if the horrible way we treat each other is another genie not going back into a bottle.
But persistent, years-long heartless bullying can affect one’s mental health. It would probably take more than a generation of change to stop driving kids over the edge. Yet I think it could be the only real thing that could change any of this.
But clear backpacks? Come on New Jersey, you’re smarter than that.
Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.
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