It’s back-to-school time so load up with those pencils, notebooks, rulers and, of course, a bullet-deflecting backpack, if you buy the pitch of the security accessory’s Danvers inventors. Dads Mike Pelonzi, 43, and Joe Curran, 42, dreamed up the bullet-proof backpack, which also blunts knife attacks, to protect their own children after witnessing the Columbine massacre in 1999.
“It was after seeing what happened in Columbine that we started thinking about this. I’m a parent and so is Joe and we wanted a way of keeping kids safe at school and this is what we came up with,” said Pelonzi, co-owner of MJ Safety Solutions which produces ‘My Child’s Pack’.
The backpacks, which will cost $175, have a super-lightweight bullet-proof plate sewn into the back which weighs no more than a bottle of water. Pelonzi said the material used is a secret.
The plate material meets National Institute of Justice safety standards, said Pelonzi, and during a three-year testing phase, stood up to bullets as well as machete, hatchet and Ka-bar knife attacks.
“We have tested and tested this product and we are very excited about it. We researched every school shooting since 1900 and found that our product is resistant to 97 percent of all bullets used,” added the father of two.
The backpacks weren’t due to go on sale until the start of the school year but Pelonzi brought the release date forward to Friday, days after a Herald review revealed how more than 500 weapons were recovered from Boston’s public schools in the past year.
Boston Public Schools said school chiefs would need to see the product before making a decision on whether kids could use them or not.
“It seems to me that it would not serve our district-wide dress code which says that students cannot wear anything which is threatening or offensive,” said Jonathan Palumbo, Boston Public Schools spokesman.
An MIT associate professor who has researched bulletproof materials said the plate would help, but so too could a school book.
“A large text book could stop a bullet or a knife but it would depend on the energy of the projectile,” said David Roylance, associate professor of materials science and engineering at MIT.