The little tykes are heading back to school. Time to bullet-proof the kids.
Bullet-proof the kids? That's the advice from a pair of
Boston-area dads who've developed a line of bullet-proof backpacks.
"They (kids) have them (backpacks) with them on the floor, on their laps, on the bus," says Joe Curran, one of the dads selling the
bulletproof packs. "They always have a backpack."
Bull's-Eye Model Not a Big Seller
Inspired by Columbine and other school shootings, Curran and partner Mike Pelonzi spent three years developing their line of $175 "ballistic bookbags."
"If the kid has a backpack next to them, or under the desk, they can pick it up, the straps act as a handle and it becomes a shield," Curran
Wow. I'm glad I don't have to get kids ready for school any more. Back-to-school stuff has gotten more complicated. And more serious.
A lot more serious, in fact. Cops from several police departments in Western Michigan staged "multiple shootings" with
plastic bullets inside Muskegon High School this month to practice for the real thing. Sadly, the exercise makes perfect sense. Any cop who had
suggested that when I was in school or even when my kids were in school would have been booted off the force and sent to the psycho ward. Times change,
At first glance, bullet-proof backpacks seem to be a bit of overkill, no pun intended. I can't imagine a kid (or anyone else) actually having the
presence of mind to use a backpack to block incoming bullets. But bullet-proofing is big news, it turns out. Bullet-proof vests got a lot of news
coverage during the past month, more than 15 million impressions.1 I've heard of bullet-proof vests. I've even seen them. But who knew they
made so much news?
I've never heard of bullet-proofing a school. But it must be happening. Stories about bullet-proofing schools generated more than five million
impressions on Yahoo!News in a single month. Holy cow. If we bullet-proof our schools, do we also need to bullet-proof our kids? Seems so. Even Fido
is getting bullet-proofed. Bullet-proof dog armor ranked ahead of bullet-proof backpacks on the news pages. There are even bullet-proof laptops. I bet
they still lose important files, though, bullet-proof or not.
I see an excuse for missing homework assignments here. "The bullet that bounced off my dog hit my laptop and killed it." Busted, kid.
That laptop is bullet-proof!
In fact, school security is a surprisingly big deal, drawing three times as much news coverage as the presidential campaign.1
Actually, that's worth taking note of. I frequently advise clients to pay attention to the calendar to look for seasonal opportunities to make
news. The back-to-school season is a classic example. But it's traditionally been about using it to place stories about things like clothes,
backpacks and the like. What all that news about school security tells me is that the back-to-school season is also a good time to be placing stories
about things parents can do to keep their kids safe.
I'm a little miffed, though, by all this news about bullet-proof schools, dogs and kids. It's going to be harder to get much respect for
those "back in my day we walked uphill both ways in blinding snow" stories we old timers like to use to tell today's kids how easy they
have it. But we didn't have to worry about dodging bullets at school. Today's kids are tougher than we give them credit for.
Angling For an iPhone And a Laptop
Actually, I don't think the kids pay much attention to those stories anyway. They're not nearly as gullible as we like to think. And
they're too busy figuring out how to manipulate their parents to pay attention to the Old Timer stuff.
Heading back to school was a big deal even when I was a little tyke. But there wasn't any talk of security. And there was less shopping
involved. A couple new shirts and a pair or two of jeans maybe. The big shopping event for me was the trip to buy school supplies -- pencils, erasers,
rulers, etc. I always liked getting that stuff. Protractors and compasses were especially cool once I was old enough for geometry. The protractors
could measure angles. How cool was that? And the compasses had a sharp point. The danger was titillating.
Book covers were always a mystery, though. How to put those things together baffled me. But it didn't matter. My mom took care of that. She
didn't need directions. She just knew how to do it. And she didn't even have to buy them. She used the brown paper bags from the grocery
store. Moms are so smart when you're little.
Pee-Chees are the things I remember from my kids' back-to-school days. The schools insisted each kid have a certain number of Pee-Chees, those
yellow folders that held their homework assignments. We had Pee-Chees when I was a kid, but we didn't call them Pee-Chees. We called them
Backpacks became a big deal on the back-to-school shopping circuit sometime after my kids were too old to need them. I'm grateful for that.
Those things are expensive.
And I see back-to-school ads these days for laptops, mobile phones, iPods and all kinds of other fancy stuff we didn't have back in the Old Days.
It didn't matter. We were too busy with our 18 hours of homework every night to worry about such stuff even if it had been invented by then.
1Yahoo!News, 7/15/2007 - 8/15/2007.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jerry Brown committed journalism for 20 years, but received a full pardon. He's been practicing
public relations for more than 20 years and plans to keep practicing until he gets it right -- which he hopes takes a long time because he likes what he
does. He specializes in strategy and message development, media relations and media training and writing (news releases, annual reporters, collateral,
etc.). He also writes the Monday Morning Media Minute, a free weekly media tip distributed by e-mail.
You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org / 303-781-8787.
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