Another school shooting occurred earlier this week, this time in Pennsylvania.
On Monday, a student fired inside Erie High School, wounding a classmate who The Associated Press said is hospitalized in stable condition.
That no one died and only one person was seriously injured is good news. These types of events tend to end much worse.
But in the process, well-meaning people will propose solutions hoping to prevent such an event from happening again elsewhere.
One such suggestion, which has already been adopted in some districts, requires students to carry see-through backpacks with exceptions granted for bags containing medically necessary supplies.
The person leading this effort in the state legislature is Rep. Angel Cruz, D-Philadelphia, who says such policies are already in place in places like Altoona, Harrisburg and Philadelphia after being passed by school districts. of these localities. Cruz compares this transparent bag policy to those used in many sports stadiums, arenas and other large event venues. If Cruz’s proposal were to become law — which seems like an uphill battle with a Republican-dominated General Assembly — it would apply to high school students, or those in middle school, middle school, and high school.
But we’re skeptical of the effectiveness, especially when weighed against concerns about invading student privacy and the cost associated with getting those see-through bags.
The problem with transparent bags is clear. This makes it easier for teachers and staff to know what a child is carrying in their backpack, but it also makes it easier for everyone else to know what a child is carrying in their backpack – something that would give bullies more ammunition. to tease their victims and potentially cause another kind of harm.
Districts should also decide whether to spend the money to issue clear bags to every student or pass the cost on to families, some of whom may not have the means to afford or obtain a compliant bag.
The use of see-through backpacks is also not mentioned in the state’s 2018 School Safety Report. The 66-page document offered several recommendations to strengthen school security, including spending more money on cameras, locked doors, metal detectors and school hallways that promote security and increase the use of school resource officers. The task force also recommended devoting more time and attention to improving student mental health, but not a word about transparent bags.
We think almost everyone — from the most outspoken gun rights advocate to the far left of the left — can agree that gun violence in our schools needs to be prevented. We just need to make sure that what we choose to do will actually make a difference and not just be a placebo.
We believe that targeting the myriad of mental health issues facing children today can make the most difference. Transparent backpacks are more like a placebo than a difference maker.
We hope our local school districts and the majority of the Legislature feel the same.