Sale of bulletproof items for children shows how dangerous society has become
Many of us are old enough to remember a time when being a kid was a pretty safe occupation. On non-school days, kids could leave the house in the morning and spend the day engaged in care-free play, sometimes beyond Mom's shouting distance, returning home only for meals or bedtime.
At school, the only threats to their physical health came in relatively mundane forms such as a fall from the playground equipment, an errant ball or, perhaps occasionally, a run in with a schoolyard bully. Parents had few reasons to worry about their children, especially when the kids were at school.
But that was a long time ago. Today the world is a different place . . . a more violent place.
It's a sad commentary on the state of modern society that a company in Colombia has begun to manufacture armoured clothing for kids in response to requests that have come in the wake of last month's deadly shooting attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
As an Associated Press story in Saturday's Herald indicated, the Colombian firm that makes bulletproof vests has received emails from customers asking for protective clothing for their children "because they were afraid to take their kids to school," said factory owner Miguel Caballero.
The company's marketing director noted the firm has received requests from throughout the United States. The requested products include child-sized armoured vests, protective undershirts and backpacks with ballistic protection that can also be used as shields.
The story also indicated that three U.S. companies which make backpacks designed to shield children have reported a spike in sales since the Newtown shooting in which 20 first-graders were killed. A Massachusetts-based firm called Bullet Blocker said it was selling 50 to 100 bulletproof backpacks a day since the shooting, a sharp increase from the previous average of 10 to 15 per week.
It's disheartening to think parents feel they need to resort to such measures, but at the same time, it's a perfectly understandable reaction. The harsh reality is that mass shootings, particularly at schools, have become all-too-commonplace in North America in the past 15 or 20 years, and parents can't be blamed for taking these extreme steps in an effort to safeguard their kids.
For those who remember a more innocent time when kids only had to worry about scraped knees instead of flying bullets, the evolution to armed guards in schools and bulletproof vests on children suggests a serious regression in our society. That's not to say life was perfect in other eras. Violence existed then, too, and sometimes children became victims of violence.
But no one worried about the possibility that someone would march into a school and start shooting. No one was manufacturing bulletproof vests and backpacks for kids.
It's sad that things have come to this.
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