Bulletproof blankets now available to American schools

By Drum Digital
09 July 2014

School shootings are rife in America and although such incidents are not as common in South Africa, there are also areas in our country where gun violence leaves learners feeling extremely vulnerable.

America’s history of gun violence, particularly in schools, is shocking. There have been 74 school shootings in the United States since the awful Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012. During that particular shooting, 20 children and six adults were gunned down.

School shootings are a tragic reality and while a lot of discussion has centred on prevention, protective and safety products company ProTecht has created a product it hopes kids will use in case such a tragedy strikes their schools. The Bodyguard blanket is designed to offer a temporary shelter during dangerous situations, particularly school shootings.

While the Bodyguard blanket is also built to help protect children from falling debris during natural disasters such as tornadoes, much of the marketing around the product concerns the potential for school shootings. It's the reason the blanket was created in the first place.

Technically, the Bodyguard is bullet-resistant. It's made from the same materials used in military and law enforcement body armour. Instead of having kids put on a flak vest, though, it houses the material in a form that can be folded up and then unfolded to create a body shelter. It has straps that help hold it in place like a backpack.

The creators of the blanket state that it will provide bullet resistance against 90 per cent of all weapons that have been used in school shootings in the US.

Bullet-resistant materials aren't cheap. The Bodyguard comes with a price tag just shy of $1 000 (R11 000), and comes in three sizes (S, M and L). ProTecht hopes to partner with schools and nonprofit organisations to make the Bodyguard more affordable to buy in bulk. But even with a substantial discount, it will likely be out of reach for local schools.

-Megan Bursey

Sources: bodyguardblanket.com, mashable.com, businessinsider.com

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