TODAY

TODAY   |  September 11, 2013

Bulletproof school supplies aim to keep kids safe

Companies like Hardwire LLC. are introducing a new trend to the back-to-school marketplace: Armored backpacks, clipboards and more products that are meant to keep children safe.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> now a surprising new trend when it comes to your child's school supplies. these are products designed to help kids learn and also keep them safe. they could raise eyebrows. mara has more on this. good morning.

>> good morning, matt. well, backpacks and white boards are all pretty basic school supplies, right? not always. these are some that are now bullet proof . a number of manufactures are bringing protective gear normally reserved for military and law enforcement into the classroom.

>> very light weight.

>> they're the newest trend in back to school gear. armored accessories. in the wake of recent school shootings from the tragedy in newtown to a gunman opening fire in georgia, a number of bullet proof school products are hitting the market. from $109 clipboards to entire classroom door protectors from $1,500 to 200 $9 protective white boards.

>> armor manufacturer hardwire llc makes gear for the military but the ceo a parent himself, said he had to sknchts it was an emoti emotional switch for me.

>> reporter: one of the top sellers , the bullet proof white board . don't let the size or the colors fool you. this unassuming classroom accessory can stop major fire power .

>> if you find yourself in fight mode as a last line of defense this is the fire extinguisher for gunfire.

>> for many parents it's a welcomed trend.

>> the delaware mom wants to make sure her daughter's school bag does more than just carry books. buying her a bullet proof backpack insert.

>> i feel more confident. she has one more tool that can ensure her safety.

>> even when you know the likelihood of something terrible is very low. but you know if something were to happen you'll be extra protected.

>> while most of these products are relatively new, companies like hard wire say they're telling well among families and schools. the university of maryland eastern shore spent almost $60,000 for 200 armored white boards. one for every classroom.

>> i feel safe and other students feel safe as well.

>> but school safety experts say just because students feel safer doesn't necessarily mean they are.

>> they meet the emotional security needs of some parents and some educators but it really sets parents and kids up with a false sense of security and dis distracks from the more practical things we should be doing.

>> they encourage schools to focus on controlling access to the building and having frequent crisis drills but advocates for the products say if all the things should fail, teachers and students need a way to protect themselves. so they're saying this is a last line of defense. critics say why