Blowback from Banning Backpacks

A high school bans backpacks as a security measure. This also includes purses, which inconveniences girls who need to carry menstrual supplies. So now, girls who are carrying purses get asked by police: “Are you on your period?” The predictable uproar follows.

Maybe they should try transparent backpacks or bulletproof backpacks. (If only someone would invent a transparent bulletproof backpack. Then our children would finally be safe!)

Posted on October 3, 2007 at 12:55 PM60 Comments


Woo October 4, 2007 5:57 AM

hmm.. you could make a semi-transparent semi-bulletproof backpack from a mesh of carbon fibres. Might be a tradeoff worth considering.

Woo October 4, 2007 5:57 AM

hmm.. you could make a semi-transparent semi-bulletproof backpack from a mesh of carbon fibres. Might be a tradeoff worth considering.

Paul Renault October 4, 2007 6:01 AM

Or you could make backpacks out of 3/8 clear polycarbonate…

But you’d have to make the backpack tall enough so that they shield the student’s head. And ask all the student to present only their backs to everyone. And….

csrster October 4, 2007 6:06 AM

You make REALLY BIG bulletproof backpacks and require the students to come to school inside one.

Adrian October 4, 2007 6:06 AM

The terrorists won, America went stupid five years ago and none of you noticed. Ban clothes too, who knows what you can conceal under them!

wm October 4, 2007 6:30 AM

So… (from the first article) this girl was “pulled out of class” to be told she wasn’t allowed her purse — and this is supposed to be a security measure against concealed weapons?

You can bring your concealed weapon into class, but it’s OK, a security guard will be round in a couple of hours to take it off you. Phew, I thought for a moment there you might be able to just walk in and shoot everyone.

I guess it protects against attackers who arrive in the morning, but only go postal in the afternoon, though.

Dom De Vitto October 4, 2007 6:32 AM

Yes! What a great idea!

Eco-bubbles make from hundreds of polycarbonate hexagons, protection from smog, pollen, police 9mm and other allergens!

Right, whats the number of the patent office….

(Hmmm, maybe small microspeakers could repeated announce “Yes, my paint is a bit runny this week so Don’t Shoot!”…they laughed at Edison too ya know..)

T October 4, 2007 7:17 AM

I agree with Adrian. Americans have become scared and stupid. We should let students carry backpacks, but we should let them know, in no uncertain terms, that if they are caught with contraband in the backpacks, there will be severe consequences.

Ian October 4, 2007 7:23 AM

My proposed solution: Require all students, male or female, to carry menstrual supplies with them at all times.

tom October 4, 2007 8:09 AM

I started carrying a small 2 blade pen knife in my pocket, all the time, when I was in 6th grade. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. Now, we’d be arrested.

fwiw, I graduated high school in 1984. Maybe it’s time to read that book again

Eve October 4, 2007 8:16 AM

You think they are “menstrual supplies” but they could be cleverly designed remote triggering devices! The right combination of movements and KaBlam! It’s all to protect the children.

Josh O October 4, 2007 8:48 AM

@T Not just Americans I’m afraid. The British did shoot an electrician because he had wires.

shaterchick October 4, 2007 9:28 AM

i need helllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllp!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i dont undersand will they come after me? im scared!!!!!!

Joe Patterson October 4, 2007 10:39 AM

I think the solution here is for everyone to start wearing tampon necklaces until the administrators get offended enough that the let backpacks back.

I’m kind of amused… I remember my dad telling me how guns in schools isn’t a recent phenomenon. Only panic about them is. When he was a kid, people brought guns to school. Carried them in on their shoulder, kept them in their locker, because they were going hunting after class.

Jim Ramsey October 4, 2007 10:45 AM

The “war on terror” mind set is much like that of a lynch mob.

In a lynch mob it’s important to be angry and afraid. Whatever you do, you must NOT think.

That’s where we are now.

At this rate, we will destroy our country in order to save it.

European guy October 4, 2007 11:46 AM

Thats just crazy. USA has the most dumbest people on the earth. I’m not sayng that every USA citizen is an idiot but there’s more idiots for one smart (wo)man than anywhere else in the world.

I’m glad I live in a country that is really free, has real freedom of speech and not pseudo-free like USA. If I we’re in USA I’d move to Canada.

Hieronymous Coward October 4, 2007 12:45 PM

‘Then our children would finally be safe!”

I think you means “Then the childrunz is finaly be safe!” That grammar & spelling more closely matches the thought process you are mocking.

CGomez October 4, 2007 1:30 PM

So this is A high school? A single high school with some moron administrators?

It’s stupid and should be brought to the forefront, but it’s a little drastic to blame this on all the dumbest USA people.

alice October 4, 2007 1:54 PM

When does TSA start to do this? It could be suspicious to have someone fly with a tampon on a wrong day… 🙂

Anonymous October 4, 2007 1:55 PM

To those who are saying Americans are stupid or scared, I remind you: it’s the American citizens who object to this crap when it crosses the line. So it’s not the American PEOPLE who are scared and stupid, it’s the LEADERSHIP who have all gone apeshit gaga over security and rules and enforcing rules and punishing those who say the rules and leadership are stupid.

Now I’ll admit that many Americans have a high tolerance level for the kind of stupid security theatrics that are being put in place. In other words, it takes a lot before most think it has crossed the line. So you can call us complacent, with some degree of truth, but not stupid or scared. Yeah, there are some who ARE stupid or scared, and they light fires under the butts of administrators and leadership, who then feel obligated to react in kind. That’s just normal “squeaky-wheel” politics.

Guest person October 4, 2007 2:20 PM

Hey woo, something can’t be semi-bulletproof. It either is and you’re protected or it isn’t, and you get shot.

David B. October 4, 2007 2:20 PM

Good thing high school kids aren’t clever enough to cut & glue a book to conceal their contraband. …Oh wait, I did that in 7th grade.

FNORD October 4, 2007 2:38 PM

I notice the school threatened to expel the students protesting with “creative” wearing of tampons and pads with suspension.

Under Tinker, that would almost certainly be illegal.

Guest person: They might be proof against some bullets, but not others. Or you might be partly protected, better than nothing.

Filias Cupio October 4, 2007 3:04 PM

Obviously semi-bulletproof means it is proof against bullets from a semi(automatic). Or perhaps it is proof against half bullets.

Kadin2048 October 4, 2007 3:26 PM

Calling something “bulletproof” is a misnomer. (Unless you are talking about inches upon inches of plate steel or something.)

If you actually read what Kevlar vests describe themselves as, they are “bullet resistant“. Not “-proof” or even “semi-bulletproof” (which is a dumb contradiction in terms).

Ann Totusek October 4, 2007 3:54 PM

I’ve seen suggestions that girls paint the crotches of their pants red. They probably have a school policy against writing on shirts, but if they didn’t I’d print up shirts saying “Why yes, I do have my period. Why do you ask, asshole?” Sadly, I’m sure that wouldn’t fly. Some of the boys have apparently been attending school with pads stuck to their clothing in solidarity. If even a teenage boy can see that this is a stupid policy when the average teenage boy thinks farts and multiple other bodily functions are funny, that should tell the administrators something. Oh- I guess the teenage boys are smarter. Personally, I think a “red shirt” (or pants, or both) protest day/week/until policy is changed would be a great idea.

paige October 4, 2007 4:02 PM

oh good god. students have been bringing weapons and drugs to school since their existance. now we’re going to take away a right to privacy because of it? how are children transporting their homework? where are they keeping their lunch? what about the girls who have menstrual supplies or children that have to transport diabetic or other types of medication back in forth? TAKING AWAY something useful will never do anyone a benefit, it will only outrage them. This is where adaptation becomes more important.

C. Apple October 4, 2007 4:37 PM

Yeah, security nowadays is indeed overboard. But there are two courses for politicians to take: Go overboard about privacy. Everyone’s miffed, but nobody dies. So you’re scoffed at, but never considered an indirect murderer. OR: Don’t do jack about security. More people die, for reasons that YOU could have prevented!! People revolt, you get impeached.

Which route would you take were you any sort of self-respecting politician? The one thing we don’t want in our politicians to be is naïve–we want dudes that are smart and protect us, and that’s the clear-cut path to staying in office. Politicians only need all the naggers to shut up. If naggers didn’t exist, they could cut through the crap and do real stuff. So blame it on the naggers or something… but not on “idiots,” because “idiots” just wouldn’t care either way!!

Josh October 4, 2007 5:44 PM

Hey I have an idea. People could try NOT being scared little pussies and just let the damn kids wear their backpacks. Hows that?

bler October 4, 2007 6:05 PM

“Politicians only need all the naggers to shut up. If naggers didn’t exist, they could cut through the crap and do real stuff.”
– C. Apple

“A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there’s no question about it.”
– George W. Bush

Anton October 4, 2007 10:03 PM

What I would like to know is, do American students not carry books and perhaps need a bag of some sorts to carry them?

LMAO October 4, 2007 11:02 PM

The funny thing to me is that this was all so predictable. So I’d have to guess that these school administrators (used to) have way too much free time on their hands.

Kristine October 5, 2007 2:12 AM

How about this: The “security measure” is not only for “security”, but to show the students how powerful the school is to be able to ask them such personal questions, and that they should better obey to avoid trouble.

Don’t underestimate the hidden curriculum.


sylvie October 5, 2007 3:29 AM

Clearly kids don’t need backpacks because schools aren’t allowed to teach anything any more anyway.
And puberty isn’t a stressful or complicated enough time for young women, so it makes sense to have adult men in positions of power humiliate and intimidate them while invading their most personal privacy, and then treat them like criminals for daring to be upset. That way they can be good, obedient, depressed little housewives when they grow up, who don’t question their ‘betters’.

sylvie October 5, 2007 4:03 AM

Responding to FNORD:
“I notice the school threatened to expel the students protesting with “creative” wearing of tampons and pads with suspension.
Under Tinker, that would almost certainly be illegal.”

Protesting administrative decisions in any way is probably against the rules.

Even when I started HS, in a large, affluent well-respected school district in the DC suburbs, before Columbine and well before 9/11, students were required to sign something called “Student Rights and Responsibilities.” We never did figure out where the section on ‘rights’ was, because the whole document was about giving them up (basically everything but the 3rd amendment, because the school didn’t have troops to quarter in our houses). Apparently if you’re under 18, or if you’re 18 but still in HS, you’re not human yet.

Theoretically, signing was voluntary, but you had to sign it to be allowed to attend school, and if you don’t attend school, you’re arrested as a truant.

averros October 5, 2007 6:28 AM

Nekkid! They should all be nekkid! And just to make sure the guards should perform all-cavity searches on all students. After all, schools are a public property where everyone must be absolutely safe from everything.

The government is moronic. So is the belief into benevolence of the government and the government’s public brainwashing, er, education.

ThePresentOccupier October 5, 2007 9:30 AM

Re the red shirts idea – not wise.

Everyone knows the redshirts are expendable.

Rich Wilson October 5, 2007 11:24 AM

I wonder if anyone has considered that adults go to their places of work and shoot people. Hence the term “going postal”. Obviously, teachers should not be allowed to carry briefcases to school.

For the security of the children, of course.

FNORD October 5, 2007 12:33 PM

Given the essential coercion implicit in the contract, it probably isn’t valid. It would work for a private school, obviously, but probably not a public one. After 18 (or whenever truancy ceases to be a crime in your jurisdiction), the school might have a case.

Even there is a policy that must be agreed to, it generally requires at least a rational basis to be valid.
cf. Morse v. Frederick and Broussard v. School Board; the fact that the speech violated school policy was not sufficient cause for punishment, the school had to show why the school should be allowed to regulate the speech (compelling interest in curbing drug or preventing vulgarity).

Things like that depend, in large part, on the fact that no one goes to the trouble to challenge them. And the fact that many people (including school administrators) don’t know they’re not valid.

Obligatory Disclaimer: Don’t take legal advice from a random blog poster. Consult an actual lawyer in real life before entering litigation.

DavidTC October 5, 2007 2:16 PM

Forget ‘coercion’…people under 18 cannot agree to contracts, period.

This obviously renders every single one of those ‘contracts’ completely unenforceable, as they are signed at the start of the school year, and the number of people who are over 18 when starting a school year, out of all high-schoolers, are in the tenths of a percent, usually only people who are taking an extra year to graduate.

The question then needs to be asked: Why are schools training children to sign away their rights when they can’t actually do that?

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has explicitly literally ruled on exactly this issue: Students wearing something attached to their clothing indicating their objection to a government policy.

I mean, it’s not even vaguely debatable. They can get away with some of their crap, like banning ‘satanic’ t-shirts, because the courts haven’t ruled on it. But replace ‘tampons’ with ‘armbands’ and we already had this exact case!

kdiis October 5, 2007 6:38 PM

@ Josh O

The Brits didnt shoot a electrician because he had wires hanging out of his jacket or because he ran through a station wearing a heavy jacket and jumped a turnstile.

all claims made shortly after his death but all incorrect.
he got shot due to pisspoor surveillance and management.

FNORD October 5, 2007 11:50 PM

@DavidTC: Well, if the parents sign too, it might be enforceable in some circumstances. Another strike against it, though.

Basically, if the school can ban something, it doesn’t need a contract to do it, and if they can’t, a contract won’t help.

The main thing the contracts help with is preventing students from pleading ignorance. And, of course, intimidating people who don’t know the case law, which is almost everyone.

anonymous October 6, 2007 12:37 PM

No, the real solution — already being attempted in some US high schools — is to make sure that all the girls are constantly pregnant, thus eliminating the need for menstrual supplies.

diesel October 6, 2007 6:19 PM

Forget friggin’ tampons. Everyone would have seen my AD&D DM Guide, Player’s Handbook and the MM if I hadn’t been able to pack a backpack when I was in school. Can you imagine the teasing that I would have… ummm… nevermind.

Anonymous October 8, 2007 3:33 AM

That is madness!? How are the kids supposed to carry all their stuff. There cannot possibly be a good security argument that supports this. Are they trying to soften the kids up to an impending police state?

Parent at the School October 17, 2007 8:59 AM

Well, not exactly. Purses were never banned. Police were not involved (it was a former police officer who was hired as a school securty guard — the former police officer was forced to resign for running a side business on official time). The uproar was not over what the idiot security guard was asking girls, but that the school administration did not respond to the complaints about it. The guard is now on paid administrative leave. Parents are not thrilled. The newspaper you cite is a rag, always sinking to the lowest forms of tabloid journalism. Not surprising that TV crews from NYC jumped on this.

Parent at the School October 17, 2007 9:17 AM

Sorry to add on, but after posting this, I realized that the ban on backpacks has little to do with security. The primary reason for banning backpacks was to relieve congestion in hallways and classrooms and to mitigate the effects on the human body of carrying a backpack all day. Backpacks are permitted at the beginning and end of the school day. They are not searched or otherwise considered a security threat. Nonetheless, the ban was construed by students to be a heavy-handed intrusion, so, naturally, they tested its limits. The school administration, with the security guard, knee-jerked by doing random checks during the day. Parents would have appreciated better communication about the backpack ban (the security guard obviously did not know that purses were not banned) and a more thoughtful effort in enlisting student cooperation rather than coercing it.

Steve October 18, 2007 1:19 PM

Every adolescent boy has experienced an untimely erection, including in school. If one were “caught” today, presumably the guards would assume you were smuggling a stick of dynamite. (‘Course, I always liked to think that it was!)

NEW terror plot: Secret cell of 14-year-old girls smuggles terror weapons into school in their body cavities, pretending to have their period.

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