ATLANTA — The back-to-school rush looks very much the same as it has every other year.
Pens, pencils and notebooks are still on the shopping list. But there are signs of our nation's growing anxiety.
Gina Collini's 8-year-old niece is sporting a backpack that is pink… and bulletproof.
“I'm very sad that we have come to a point in our lives that our children need to have a ballistic shield of some sort,” Collini said. “But that's reality.”
Across the country, stores have stocked their shelves with bulletproof backpacks and inserts.
In recent days, TuffyPacks has seen sales of their inserts increase 200 percent. Sales of BulletBlocker backpacks have doubled.
The average price for the bulletproof backpacks range from $100 up to $200.
Guard Dog Security and others advertise backpacks that will stop a bullet fired by a handgun, but manufacturers do not claim their products can stop a bullet fired from a rifle like the ones used in the recent mass shootings that have sent a ripple of worry across the country.
While the backpacks may bring some peace of mind, psychologists worry that they're sending the wrong message.
“In some way you’re conveying to them implicitly that you want them to feel safe,” said one. “A downside is that we're reminding children of the dangers of the world that they wouldn't otherwise come into contact with.”
There are other limitations.
Some school districts don't allow backpacks in classrooms. And one manufacturer warns that any product loses its bulletproof powers over time -- there's typically a five-year expiration date.
Still, the rise in popularity of these back-to-school body protectors reveals the heart-breaking reality of our time.
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