In a tragic case of a sign of the times, parents nationwide have added bulletproof backpacks to their back-to-school shopping lists.
As USA Today reported, parents, teachers, students and school officials have kept bulletproof protection and gun safety at the top of their lists alongside normal back-to-school worries, like having enough books, computers and lessons for youngsters.
In fact, searches for "bulletproof backpacks" have spiked recently. They jumped after the Stoneman Douglas High School shootings last February and have since climbed again with a new school year on the way.
Two main bulletproof backpacks exist in national U.S. store chains.
Guard Dog Security has created the bulletproof ProShield II backpack that can protect students from shooters. It includes tech features like a charging bank and an auxiliary port.
The backpacks cost $189.99.
Office Depot sells them online and in selected stores. Recently, they've sold at those stores for $131.24.
Meanwhile, Home Depot sells the bags for $147.74 online.
The company BulletSafe produces bulletproof backpack panels that keep kids safe, too. BulletSafe told USA Today that sales for the Guard Dog bag have jumped 40 percent since 2017.
"They seem to sell very well to parents of students who are going to college in the big city, is how I like to describe it," said president Tom Nardone. "All their fears kind of combine in that their kids are leaving, plus the kids are going away to someplace that's certainly more dangerous than Smallville, USA."
Bulletproof backpacks aren't completely bulletproof, though, according to AZFamily.com. The products can stop a bullet fired from a handgun, but likely won't stop any rifle shots.
The Kevlar material included in the backpacks is a softer material. Any material used to stop rifle shots would be too heavy for a kid's backpack.
"Also, keep in mind some schools have their students keep their backpacks in their lockers. If your child doesn't take their backpack with them from class to class, a bulletproof backpack may not be an appropriate safety measure," according to AZFamily.com.
The backpacks won't last forever, either.
"The Kevlar-like material expires after about five years, or sooner — if they're exposed to the elements. It's definitely something to be aware of, especially if you're considering buying a used backpack," the report said.