Schools weigh pros and cons of clear backpacks

Hayley Smith, staff writer

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Douglas High School, about 120 miles south of Tucson, has recently banned their students from carrying backpacks on campus. Instead, students are allowed to carry a small clear tote with their belongings visible inside. The Douglas County School District’s new policy went into effect on October 21.
“I think it’s a great idea. We can see everything in the backpack and notice anything that shouldn’t be in there very quickly,” said Jill Colombo, a security guard.
Backpacks hide
Schools throughout the country are currently dealing with multiple possession problems. According to the Arizona Republic, problems with teenagers vaping and smoking has only increased. Students who choose to bring these devices on campus will usually store them in their backpacks.
Taking away regular backpacks eliminates a common place where students hide items they shouldn’t bring on campus.
“The policy helps get rid of the worry that something dangerous could be inside. It’s easy to hide anything in a regular backpack, so the clear bags would get rid of a lot of fear,” said Ashley Durso, a senior.
The clear backpack policy was put in place after the rate of school shootings increased. The first high school that used this policy was Majority Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida, the same school that suffered from a terrible mass shooting on February 14, 2018. Now, a few schools across the country are taking notice of the policy and putting it into effect.
See-through backpacks
While clear backpack eliminate fear and danger among schools nationwide, there are oppositions to the policy. Backpacks are one of the ways students express their individuality. They come in many different styles and colors for this reason. Also, clear backpacks have stronger possibility of being less-durable than regular backpacks. Brands like Jansport, Herschel, Fjallraven Kanken, Vera Bradley, and Kipling are popular for both being trendy and long-lasting.
“You can’t express yourself with a clear backpack, I have a New York backpack that nobody else has. It’s kind of similar to the dress code in that way,” said Kate O’Neil, a junior.
Bringing backpacks to school not only creates a storage option for school supplies, but also acts as a purse for students’ personal belongings.
“There are some things that students wouldn’t want other students to see. For example, some students carry feminine products or credit cards and they should be able to keep those things hidden,” said Durso.
Take students who use feminine products, for example. Hygiene is a very personal topic for most people, and keeping feminime products in a clear backpack could create unnecessary embarrassment. In addition, if a student carries a clear backpack around, anyone can see their ID or credit card. Students could be at risk for identity theft because their personal belongings are in plain sight.
The new policy has created heaps of conflict in the Douglas County School District. For example, after the district posted about the new expectations for students backpacks, comments started to roll in in disfavor of the new rule.
“If Cactus Shadows banned backpacks, I think everyone would be upset at first, but they’d get used to it. We wouldn’t lose a lot of kids,” said Colombo.
Although the action of making kids bring a clear backpack has not yet proven to prevent violence or vaping rates, administrators are optimistic.