As students head back to school, many parents have stocked up on the usual pens and notebooks for their children. Hundreds of others, though, have bought their children something different for the classroom: a made-in-Israel bulletproof backpack.
With at least 28 school shootings in the United States in 2018 alone, a recent poll by PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools found that 34% of parents fear for their children’s physical safety at school.
While it is not a significantly high number, it is almost triple the number of parents from 2013, when only 12% of parents said they were fearful.
Schools across the United States have introduced new safety protocols, new preventive technology, and have even floated the idea of arming teachers in classrooms.
The violence has also led to a surge in the number of companies selling products designed to help protect students against active shooters, with more than half a dozen manufacturers producing them and selling them at major retailers, such as Walmart and Office Depot, which are carrying them at prices ranging from $130 to $400.
One Israeli company has already sold hundreds of its Switchblade backpack during its first two weeks on the market.
“As soon as it hit the market it started selling like crazy. We already have so many orders for adults and by parents who buy for their kids,” he said of the bag which sells for $497 USD by The Self Defense Company and Israel Catalogue.
Designed like an ordinary backpack, the Switchblade provides the wearer with protection for the back, and a rip cord releases a protective bulletproof vest to slide over the wearer’s head for frontal protection.
The bag, which is made of Twaron ballistic material, weighs between 5.7 pounds (2.6 kg.) without hard plates (level 3A protection, to stop traditional pistol rounds and a .357 Magnum) and 11.2 pounds (5.1 kg.) with the ballistic plates (level 3, to stop six .308 rifle bullets).
According to Geva, the level 3A protective plates protect against all types of small arms, including 9 mm. and .44 Magnum. The backpack can also carry additional plates which would allow the wearer to be protected from rifles and other arms up to AK-47 protection, he told the Post.
“It’s a very unique product in its quality and has an easy-to-use interface,” Geva said of the bag, which can be used both by teenagers and adults. Though the product is not yet designed for elementary school-aged children, the next version will probably be more child-friendly, Geva said.
“It’s more challenging, but we already have bulletproof vests for children, so we have the experience,” he said.