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Looking into the Clear Book Bags for School Policy

Ally Nelson |

It is not news anymore that the clear bags policy has taken plenty of U.S. school districts and venues by the storm. Depending on the angle from which you watch things unfold, you can see the advantages brought by the clear book bags for school (concerts, festivals, and events), or the disadvantages as presented by the people who have to wear them: the students. Today, we will try to take a 360-degree look at the policies in place and the clear book bags and try to understand them better.

Why Is There a Clear Book Bags for School Policy?

When it comes to clear bags, their original purpose was fashion, not safety. Some of the first clear bags date back to the 50s and 60s. Then, the Golden Age Hollywood stars adopted Lucite plastic tote bags and other accessories, perpetuating and establishing the trend. The decades of making all sorts of social and political statements ensued, culminating with the flamboyant festivals in the 80s and 90s, where clear bags became a statement for some and the norm at festivals for better drug control for others.

And yet, after the 1999 Columbine shootings, the clear bags lost some of their fashionable & rebellious edges, turning into a defense mechanism in the face of the rampaging school shootings that shook America to the core. The clear PVC bag was not “stadium gear” anymore but became the window through which school districts are now peering into their students’ lives, trying to keep them safe.

Starting with 2018 and the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, more and more school districts across the United States began to implementing clear book bags for school policy to offer protection to students, staff, visitors, parents, etc.

Unfortunately, there is still no official database listing all the school districts that enforce this clear bookbag rule. On the other hand, if you browse the news, you can quickly learn that school districts in Florida, Illinois, South Carolina, Texas, Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, and more embrace the clear bag policy to prevent another school shooting.

Looking at the big picture, carrying clear bags, tote bags, or clear fanny packs at events, at school, or in places where security is an issue makes sense. The transparent bags render security checks more fluid and more efficient. Bringing in guns, other weapons, alcohol, or drugs into a school or at a public event is now next to impossible.

As the school districts who enforced the policy say, if people have nothing to hide, they should not have an issue with carrying clear bags, see-through totes, and transparent backpacks.

The Clear Book Bags for School Policy Controversy

That is the thing, however, according to the students who have to wear clear book bags for school every day: people do have something to hide, and that is perfectly alright.

Besides intimacy-related products, many students have prescription medication on them. While everyone can expect a high-school girl to have a couple of tampons in her bag, carrying treatment for anxiety, depression, or other medical problems violates the sacred right to health privacy.

While some people accepted the clear bag policy mandated on stadiums – as they can now pass through security without breaking a sweat – others had strong words to say about the clear school book bags.

Students all over the country (with those in Florida carrying the flag) protested against the “violation of privacy” that, according to them, does not make them feel safer but more “uncomfortable.”

Moreover, we should all not forget that our generation of high school and college students carry around valuable gadgets and tech devices. It may not be like in the movies, where high school kids brandish the latest models of high-end headphones or smartphones, but they do have wallets, laptops, tablets, phones, and other items that put them at risk of assault and theft.

Parents, on the other hand, are not happy either about their kids having to wear see-through school bags, simply because many of such items are of poor quality and break easily.

As one can quickly figure out, the environmentalists are not thrilled either. After all, after so many efforts in banning plastic bags, welcoming plastic tote bags, tote backpacks, or handbags is counterintuitive.

The Disadvantages of Clear Book Bags for School

When it comes to safety, the clear book bag is not and should not be a “one size fits all” approach. According to experts, the policy should get adaptations and versatility, depending on each school.

Talking to all the parties involved, investigators learned that the clear book bags made students, teachers, parents, and school staff feel more bothered than safe. According to them, see-through school bags foster an environment of insecurity by inducing and enforcing the idea that students cannot trust anyone and that no one trusts them.

The fear is that the clear book bag policy might change schools into war zones, where the lack of privacy, theft risk, generalized suspicion, and distress could have a disastrous impact on the young generation.

The young generation, however, fights back with everything it can, including campaigning for actual, actionable, and reliable gun control policies and not just student control tactics.

This particular conflict, however, is just at the beginning.

Are There Advantages to the Clear Bags Policy?

Once you start to learn how to pack a clear bag for any purpose, things get more manageable when it comes to security checks at athletic events, festivals, concerts, and other public gatherings. Moreover, packing a clear book bag the right way does not draw attention upon yourself to potential thieves.

Clear book bags will soon become the norm in more than a few school districts in some states or stadiums. Terrorist attacks, drug distribution, mass killings, illegal carrying of weapons, etc., these are all crimes that could be prevented by the wearing of a simple, clear bag in certain circumstances.

Bottom Line

The question remains, however, if the clear school bags eliminate fear from an environment that should be safe above all, or they are turning students, teachers, and staff into enemies. What environment is the one that encourages people to always spy on each other, distrusting not only their peers but also all authority figures?

As good news goes, clear book bags for school are now available on the market in more than just poor-quality plastic. Most models coming from reputable brands (including Urban Outfitters or Vuitton) meet the size criteria mandated by stadiums and event organizers. They do not rip and tear so easily under the weight of schoolbooks and gadgets.

And, ultimately, if one clear school bag will save a life, no matter if on a stadium, in a public place, in a school, or on the street, then the struggle and controversy will be worth it.