Dallas Schools Requiring Clear Backpacks Following Uvalde Shooting

For students returning to Dallas Public School's this fall, a clear backpack is now a necessity, as an added safety measure.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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clear backpack

The end of the 2021-2022 school year was marred by the horrific school massacre at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas. With school shootings and violence, in general, hitting a new record, districts across the nation have responded by increasing security measures in one form or another. For some, this means taking even the little efforts into account, including mandates for either no bookbags or the use of only clear backpacks. Beginning this fall, Dallas public school students will be required to use clear bags during a time when Texas families are still reeling from the deadly Uvalde incident. 

NPR is reporting that the Dallas Public School District recently announced that starting this fall, students will no longer be able to pick out their backpack of choice, and will be required to use a clear backpack out of safety concerns. The hope is that this added measure will allow staff and security to quickly scan personal belonging for any types of threats and illegal items that may be attempted to be smuggled into school property. Likewise, this new measure will speed up the process of screening students at the beginning of the school day, leaving more time for academic learning. 

This added measure of security is intended to keep students and staff safe and further deter school violence. But many remain skeptical that this measure will work. To this, a local Texas News outlet, WFAA, investigated the matter to weigh in on whether or not clear backpacks can mitigate violence in schools. Turning to multiple experts in the fields of criminal justice, school security officers, and school safety directors, the consensus was that these measures are overall ineffective at deterring violence from occurring. 

Mac Hardy, the director of operations at the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) made note that even with a clear backpack, it is easy for students to sneak weapons into school completely undetectable. He pointed out that small weapons like knives and even handguns can be concealed inside baggy clothing or a cutout textbook. Likewise, pointing to shooters like the 18-year-old gunmen this past May in Uvalde, this safety measure doesn’t stop a criminal that isn’t a student, as has been the case in plenty of previous school shootings. 

Thaddeus Johnson, a criminology assistant professor at Georgia State University said that in general, when schools implement policies mandating the use of a clear backpack, it is done so to appease students and families urging districts to take action and make schools safer places. But while instilling a sense of safety, Johnson urges that it doesn’t really make schools any more safe than those without the policy. Because of all this, these safety experts all tended to agree that stricter infrastructure security measures would make for better security.

clear backpack

To this, the district made note that they are well aware that a clear backpack isn’t the complete solution to end school violence. Proving Johnson’s theory about appeasing families correct, the district noted that it chose to enact this policy based on parents’ and students’ responses to a recent survey. Furthermore, they asserted that this won’t be the only added increase in security the district will impose this coming school year.