More shootings push schools to reckon with backpack dilemma
New school rules requiring see-through backpacks are rising as students return to class this year.
Why it matters: More shootings on campus are making administrators choose between letting students express themselves and taking extra steps to keep schools safe.
The big picture: Some schools started giving out clear backpacks in the immediate aftermath of a shooting in the mid-2000s, said David Riedman, the founder of the K-12 School Shooting Database.
- Now an increasing number of districts are instituting it as an umbrella policy.
- "Schools are constantly in that reactionary mode, even if they haven't actually had a shooting," he said.
By the numbers: This calendar year has seen 221 school shootings so far, according to the K-12 School Shooting Database.
- In 2022, there were a total of 305.
- A decade ago, in 2013, there were 34.
Zoom in: The policies span the country and vary widely.
- The Covington County School District in Mississippi is mandating clear backpacks for the first time this fall, per superintendent Babette Duty.
- In Newport News, Virginia, where a 6-year-old shot his teacher last year, clear backpacks were part of several districtwide changes including weapons detection systems.
- Schools in Flint, Michigan, banned backpacks altogether.
Between the lines: Many Texas schools made changes after the Uvalde shooting, Axios Dallas co-author Naheed Rajwani-Dharsi reports.
- In Texas' Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District near Houston, all middle and high school students are required to use clear backpacks.
- Dallas' Independent School District, the second largest school district in Texas, tested the policy last year with middle and high school students and expanded it to all students this school year.
The other side: Opponents of these policies have said that backpack regulations are put in place in lieu of meaningful policy change.
- "When every student is forced to use a clear backpack, you're making every student feel like they're a potential school shooter or a potential threat," Riedman said.
- 'That undermines the trust that you need for students to tell school officials if there's a problem brewing."