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(Op-Ed) Do clear backpacks actually protect students?

It is now July which means that schools and families are preparing for students to return to classrooms. Unfortunately, some students are currently being restricted from using the backpacks of their choosing. School districts across the country are choosing to enforce clear backpack policies for all students as a way to combat the risk of school safety across America. Today we will take a look at why school districts are implementing transparent backpack policies and parts of the policy that the school district I attend has implemented for this school year in order to see if clear backpacks are a good alternative or if they’re just another tactic to deal with belief that only students can be a danger to their peers as opposed to anyone else. However, we must first see why schools are beginning to require clear backpacks and if there are downsides to using clear backpacks constantly.

Why are schools requiring clear backpacks?

In order to know why schools are requiring clear backpacks, we must first understand how it is that we got here. In the United States of America, educational facilities are not safe. Weapons are brought to schools with the intent to harm others which is why schools that require transparent backpacks do so for safety reasons. By allowing administrators and security personnel to see the contents of the backpacks, the possibility of students introducing dangerous or illegal objects into the school is reduced. In addition, transparent backpacks also allow teachers to make sure that students bring the proper supplies to class. While transparent backpacks can be an inconvenience for some students who prefer privacy, they are seen as another step towards making schools a safer place.

Are there downsides to using clear backpacks?

According to, there are 4 cons to using clear backpacks in school. We will be listing them down below in a summarized format.

  • Because clear backpacks are see through, anyone with malicious intent can know if you have something of high value and steal it.
  • Transparent backpacks generally don’t have as much storage space when compared to a normal backpack.
  • When clear backpacks get dirty, they change color depending on how you keep it clean.
  • Clear backpacks cost more money than other alternatives due to the innovative technology that create this type of backpack.

What does my school district require for their clear backpack policy?

Only clear backpacks are allowed. Mesh backpacks and backpacks of other materials that are not see through are prohibited. Non-clear backpacks are only for extra curriculars such as sports and band. Clear lunch bags are also required even though there aren’t insulated lunch bags that are clear. A small non-clear bag the length of half a letter sized paper is permitted to store personal items privately though.

Are there consequences for choosing to not use a clear backpack?

This is what my school district said to answer the question.

What will happen if a student brings a nonclear backpack or bag to school?

“Students who bring a nonclear bag/backpack to school will receive a clear backpack for their belongings. Students may retrieve their nonclear bags at the end of the school day. [Insert Random School District Here] is not responsible for bags/backpacks reported lost, stolen or damaged. Students who repeatedly bring a nonclear bag/backpack to school may face disciplinary consequences.”

Are there alternatives to clear backpacks?

Some alternatives of clear backpacks are the following:

  • Metal Detectors
  • Bag Checks
  • More School Resource Officers (SROs or School Police Officers)

What are my thoughts on this situation?

Schools can require any rules that they deem necessary but not when it forces you to give up personal individuality. It started with school uniforms and now we’re headed towards the path of clear backpacks. I was looking at some comments on Facebook about the new requirements and I saw a heartbreaking comment from the mom of a third grader who had to explain to her daughter that she wouldn’t be able to wear her backpack with a pretty design. The daughter doesn’t understand the new rules and is very upset because of it. Here is the comment in question. 

“I get it but at the same time my daughter is in third grade and I had to explain to her why she couldn't take a design backpack to school this year and she's upset by it. Like I kind of get it for the middle school and high school kids but why the elementary” - ABG

I also believe that this is excessive. Schools are just appealing to the fear mongering of parents who refuse to do more to help the cause. Clear backpacks are simply a bandaid solution to a bigger issue. We need to do more in order to reduce the effects of prior causes such as bullying and mental health issues. We need to normalize receiving proper care so that the society of tomorrow can live in a happier and more united world. That is why I cannot support instating a clear backpack requirement.

Can we do anything about it?

Protesting is a good way to combat the new policies. Once schools realize that adopting clear backpack policies won’t do much in stopping other students from wearing prohibited bags or bringing in prohibited items, they will take a step back and change their perspective on the issue as a way to keep both sides of the argument peaceful.


Schools are not safe. However, that shouldn’t be a reason for students to be punished for the actions of others. This is especially true when you consider that most people who cause school tragedies are former students and haven’t been at school for a while. In the end, school should be a place in which students can learn in a safe environment and the necessary safety actions should be put in place to keep them safe without risking their privacy.

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Sparrow!'s profile picture

I hate clear backpacks because I think children have the right to privacy. Also it wouldn't stop shootings at all, people would find a way around it.

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Exactly. At my school district, they wasted millions of dollars at all of the high schools with sports for training centers and they want to make a pool. Those centers aren’t necessary and that money could be better used for installing metal detectors so that they wouldn’t need to force us to use clear backpacks

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