Students, Not Prisoners

Students+are+faced+with+more+freedom-limiting+rules+in+the+face+of+increasing+violence+in+America%27s+schools.+Bella+Staples+Image.
Students are faced with more freedom-limiting rules in the face of increasing violence in America's schools. Bella Staples Image.

Students are faced with more freedom-limiting rules in the face of increasing violence in America's schools. Bella Staples Image.

Students are faced with more freedom-limiting rules in the face of increasing violence in America's schools. Bella Staples Image.

Brooke Richmond and Bella Staples

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With the staggering amount of gun violence in American schools, students are being subjected to all kinds of new policies and precautions. One of the most controversial changes in school policy is the addition of clear backpacks. They are exactly what they sound like — transparent bags that allow everyone to view the contents of a student’s bag. Clear backpacks will soon be apart of Beckley Stratton’s school policy, according to Beckley-Stratton Middle School Vice Principal, Tammy Mills. “I think that it will be a positive experience as far as safety is concerned,” she claimed in an interview for BEST Times. As of next school year, students will no longer be permitted to use their traditional cloth backpacks. This policy is intended to prevent students from bringing weapons or other harmful objects to school.
Students, on the other hand, are appalled. “I think it won’t help prevent school shootings, it’s unrealistic,” says 8th grader Payton Hall. His classmate Isaiah Lawerence, a BEST Times Editor, also had something to say about the upcoming policy. “Beckley Stratton is one step closer to becoming a prison. Clear backpacks are a complete invasion of privacy!” Additionally, students are doubtful that the new practice will act as a successful method of security. “If someone really wanted to bring [a weapon], all they have to do is hide it in their binder or find somewhere else to hide it,” explained student Jovey McFarland. “It’ll eliminate one way to bring them, but there would have to be a lot of other changes to completely take away that possibility.”
Similar views on the new policy are common among students at Beckley Stratton Middle School. Privacy is the biggest concern when it comes to the transparent bags, or lack there of. Students fear that their belongings would be at a higher risk of theft, and female students would have to deal with the embarrassment of carrying around feminine hygiene products. On top of that, clear backpacks have a reputation of being quite small and easily ripped, which completely contradicts the purpose of a backpack. It is highly unlikely that the clear backpack policy will truly prevent a determined student from bringing something they aren’t supposed to. Most student at Beckley-Stratton carry around trapper keepers, which have many pockets capable of hiding objects of small enough size.
Despite the negative commentary, there are those who believe clear backpacks are worth the
inconvenience.  “As stupid as it may seem, [clear backpacks] could prevent drug abuse and gun violence in schools,” says Maddy Smith, a student at Beckley-Stratton.
Although transparent bags are not the solution for gun violence in schools, they make it more difficult for students to create an unsafe environment for their peers. Clear backpacks would make any sizable threat immediately visible, allowing the student to be apprehended before causing any harm. Furthermore, students and parents wouldn’t feel the need to spend an excessive amount of money on a bag that is highly decorated. The policy could benefit the student as well, in that students would able to locate materials with one glance rather than taking time to rummage around in an opaque cloth backpack.
If we truly want to make schools safer for students, we need to make plenty of other changes to school policy. Clear backpacks, however, can be considered the start of a safer education for the students of Beckley Stratton Middle School and many other schools. If we can expand polices such as clear backpacks, then it could perhaps save lives nationwide.

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Students, Not Prisoners