NEW JERSEY — A Middlesex County school district will require all K-12 students to use clear plastic backpacks as a measure to increase safety at area schools.
In a July 27 letter to families in the district, South River Schools Superintendent Sylvia Zircher noted the mandatory use of free school-provided clear bags beginning next school year at all four schools in the district. . The high school adopted the measure in the 2019-2020 school year and has continued the protocol ever since, Zircher said.
Those who wish to purchase their own clear bag can do so, Zircher said.
“It’s something many districts have embraced over the past few years,” Zircher said. our schools.”
In 2018, Lakewood Schools introduced a similar requirement across all districts in response to an incident where a fourth grader brought a handgun onto a school bus and into school. Read more: Lakewood Schools to Require Clear Backpacks After Gun Incident
Small purses the size of half a sheet of paper or less for “personal items” are still permitted in South River schools. Lunch boxes are also permitted but must be left in a trash can or locker before and after lunchtime, Zircher added.
The transparent satchel trend dates back to the April 20, 1999, shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, which left 12 students and a teacher dead. They were a hot item in back-to-school shopping after major drugstores and retailers stocked shelves with them at the behest of school administrators nationwide, The Wall Street Journal reported.
“See-through backpacks do nothing but make us look stupid,” Stoneman Douglas senior Carly Novell wrote in a tweet at the time. “We want to be safe, not uncomfortable. The only thing that can really impact our safety is gun control.”
“Optically good” Thaddee Johnsonsenior fellow for the Council for Criminal Justice at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University in Atlanta and assistant professor of criminal justice and criminology, Patch told.
“It’s kind of like surveillance cameras,” Johnson said. “It makes you feel safe, but you’re not safer.”
Michael Dorn, who runs the non-profit school safety group Safe Havens International, called the nationwide increase in clear backpacking policies a “safety facade” that makes adults feel safer, but kids see through. In a juvenile challenge, they’re not above punking their elders by sneaking in weapons, realistic toy guns and other contraband, Dorn said.
In a test, his organization was able to hide 26 weapons in a backpack small enough to be carried by an elementary school student, including a broken shotgun, a number of knives and grenades, Dorn said. .
With reporting by Beth Dalbey.