Fearmongering For Your Kids

Via BoingBoing, I found this: 

Ballistic Backpack
Ballistic Bookbag.  Just in case your kids aren’t terrified enough about returning to school, you can now buy them a backpack that can help prepare them for shooting incidents.  According to the website, "[A ballistic panel] is integrated into the high quality and stylish backpack in production. A ballistic panel is similar to the traditional bullet resistant vest worn by military and police weighing a minimum of ten pounds."  The panel weighs about 20 oz, just over a pound.  These things cost about US$175.00.

My boss and I were chatting about this, and we agreed that sure, there are schools where this sort of accessory could be important, such as areas of the inner cities where rates of crime and violence are high and weapons checks are a necessity.  It seemed to us, though, that the kids who would be going to these schools wouldn’t be able to shell out the $175 for this extra protection.  My guess is that the Ballistic Bookbag is being targeted to higher income parents who are easily duped into believing that the odds of a shooting incident happening at their kids’ school is rising at the rate of about 1,000 percent per incident nationwide.  This, despite FBI studies suggesting that the number of violent incidents happening in American schools has actually gone down over the past fifty years (though media coverage has certainly gone up, as has the deadliness of the weapons involved).

I’ve never care for this sort of fearmongering.  It can turn a profit every now and then, and it’s been a time-honored tool of capitalists since Hypocriticles sold Volcano Preparedness Kits to every Roman household after the "incident" at Pompeii in AD 79.  But it bugs me, because it plays on peoples’ gullibility and actually discourages good preparation and knowledge.  Like that commercial from the Department of Homeland Security’s "Be Ready" campaign that shows a montage of children questioning what they should do if something bad happens, and a voiceover that says, "It’s always good to have a plan in case of a terrorist attack!".  I think it would be good to have something in case of a far more likely disaster: like, it’s good to have a plan in case an airplane drops on your house, or you’re struck by lightning three times in a day and then get run over by a pack of donkeys.  Family emergency plans are good to have, and I’m glad that the DHS is running ads that also educate about hurricane and earthquake preparedness, but terrorist attacks?  Fearmongering.  Fearmongering which leads to horrific decisions, and panicked support of terrible policy decisions.

Me, I think this is much more sensible:

Think about it.

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