The outgoing 8th grade class of St. Cornelius Catholic School, Pennsylvania, received ballistic shields for their backpacks as their graduation gift Monday. The unusual gift was given to each student by Unequal Technologies, a sportswear company, as they were ready to head to high school next academic year. Commenting about the shields, Unequal CEO Robert Vito said, "It's sad the times have called for such a product to be invented, but we have answered the call." The company said the backpack plates, which are quarter-inch thick and weigh 20 ounces, have shown to resist ammunition, including a 9 mm full metal jacket round, a .44 Magnum round, and birdshot fired from a 12-gauge shotgun.
While much of the recent national conversation on campus violence has focused on mass shootings, schools also are dealing with other physical and psychological harms that thousands of students experience directly or indirectly near campuses. The impact of that violence can be devastating and costly. Campuses have begun incorporating the inevitability of trauma into their curricula, addressing stress reduction and how to settle differences without resorting to violence. Students suffer symptoms resembling post-traumatic stress disorder and psychiatric social workers are now a staple at many campuses. Because there is too little mental health funding to meet the need, teachers and staff are often on the front lines in identifying the warning signs of emotionally needy students.
The parents of a 13-year-old boy who opened fire in an Indiana middle school last year said their son's actions were "unforeseeable" and deny any responsibility for them. The boy's parents responded Monday to a lawsuit brought by the parents of Ella Whistler seeking damages for her injuries suffered in the May 25 shooting at Noblesville West Middle School. The girl was shot seven times and suffered injuries to her face, neck, hand and upper chest. One gunshot severely damaged an artery in her right arm and had to be replaced. Whistler was honored recently at an Indianapolis Colts game.