Identification must be worn at all times. Bags are subject to be checked at any given moment. Police officers are posted at all entrances. All backpacks must be transparent in order to ensure that they do not contain firearms or other weapons.
This isn’t prison or a TSA check at the airport. This is high school.
Less than two months ago, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students’ right to feel safe in their own school was violated and their lives were permanently altered. Now, the Broward County district has decided to take away their right to privacy, too.
On the first day back from Spring Break, the school administration issued new clear backpacks to all students. In a letter to Parkland families, Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie explained that clear backpacks would be the only backpacks allowed on the MSD campus.
This measure is one of many ineffective Band-Aids placed over the bullet wounds inflicted on February 14.
Though acts of gun violence are certainly not limited to the shooting at MSD, the recent tragedy impelled Americans to address the trend of gun-related deaths in the nation. Disturbingly, the immediate aftermath of the shooting was marked by a lack of shock from the country’s people. Shootings have become commonplace in America, yet little reform has followed in their destructive wakes.
Students not only from Parkland, but from all around the country, are demanding new policies and legislation for gun safety so that they can feel safe and secure at school. But what they receive are thoughts, prayers and see-through bags.
The district may have the best of intentions by implementing these new policies. But clear backpacks and metal barricades will not assuage the worries of students that regularly see the word “shooting” in news headlines. Hoping that they will is ridiculous and, frankly, a slap in the face to those seeking change.
The clear backpack policy is also an invasion of privacy. Many MSD students have taken to social media to express their thoughts about the issue.
“You know, I feel super safe now that the whole school can see my collection of tampons and pens,” MSD senior Delaney Tarr said.
But students made the most of the unreasonable school rule and took the opportunity to customize their bags. An Instagram page featuring the creative backpacks quickly racked up thousands of followers this week.
District officials are considering implementing the clear backpack policy in schools other than MSD. This has other Broward students debating the topic and whether it will truly make students safer.
“I think the clear backpacks disturb a person’s right [to] privacy, especially for female students who carry feminine products in their backpacks because they [may] feel exposed and embarrassed,” CCHS sophomore Abby Ozrovitz said. “I don’t think it does anything to make students safer.”
After this horrific tragedy, MSD students need to heal. The district should be working to help them to do so. But requiring students to use clear backpacks is a step in the wrong direction; it is only providing the school with a false sense of security. And that is easy to see through.
Photo by Lariat photography