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Entries in Parents (4)

Wednesday
Mar272013

Colombian Company Selling Bulletproof Backpacks

ABC News(AURORA, Colo.) -- It was an ordinary school day for Demitric Boykin and his 4-year-old daughter, Jaliyah.

Ordinary, except for her brand-new backpack.

Despite the girly pink fabric and pretty fairies that adorned it, Jaliyah's backpack offered military-grade protection. It could literally stop bullets.

"It protects me," she said.

On the morning before Jaliyah took her bulletproof backpack to school for the first time, her father, over a bowl of Fruit Loops, had some grown-up explaining to do.

"So if any bad guy was to come in to your classroom, remember we don't use guns, right, but bad guys do, right? So if they were to come in to your classroom with any guns, you put this on and this would stop the bullets," Boykin told his daughter.

While outfitting a kindergartener with body armor may seem way over the top, Boykin said it just reflects "the world we live in."

"[It's] sad in a lot of ways," he said. "We shouldn't have to do these things. But in today's society, if we don't, who knows what tomorrow will look like."

Boykin is among a wave of parents willing to try the extreme and controversial measure of making his children wear bulletproof materials to protect them at school in the wake of the shooting in Newtown, Conn., and other school shootings.

However, gun control advocates see this as a disturbing sign of how willing we have become to accept gun violence as the norm.

"We can accept that when our children go to school, they should be under the same type of threat of active combat as law enforcement and soldiers, or we can make sure that the shooting never starts in the first place by making sure that our gun laws are so strong that people who are homicidal maniacs cannot gain easy access to firearms," said Ladd Everitt, the director of communications for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

Boykin said it is the reality his family is facing firsthand. They live in Aurora, Colo., the site of the movie theater shooting last July that left 12 people dead and 58 injured. He said he used to bring his daughter to that theater regularly and knew people who were inside on the night of the shooting.

"It was the worst day of my life," he said. "I didn't know who was alive and who was dead. I haven't let Jaliyah out of my sight since."

It is that anxiety that has led to an emerging market for something most Americans would have never thought necessary: bulletproof clothing -- from jackets to shirts to backpacks -- made for children.

"I think that there are other ways to protect your child. I just felt like this was the best thing for mine," Boykin said. "It felt like this was the easiest thing that I could do to keep my arm around her when I couldn't keep my arm around her."

Tapping into that urge -- and some critics would say exploiting it -- is a man named Miguel Caballero. His company, based in Bogota, Colombia, designed and manufactured the 3-pound bulletproof backpack Jaliyah now carries to school.

"We are the last resort," Caballero said. "In the moment when all the rest, they are not working, we have the best way to guarantee the life of the child."

Caballero has been making bulletproof products for 20 years. An industry leader in a country plagued by decades of violence, Caballero says he ships to 23 countries around the world and counts 11 sitting presidents, and even actor Steven Seagal, among his clientele.

Caballero is so convinced his product works, he has a longstanding, if not bizarre, tradition at the factory for new employees: Fire bullets at them while they wear his products.

Today, his 260 employees are hard at work making bulletproof gear for the American Red Cross, the Paraguayan police and, now, American children -- the company's newest clients.

Caballero said the idea came to him on the fateful day three months ago when 20 first graders were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Within days of the shooting, Caballero said he started receiving requests from anxious American parents.

"All the emails from parents say, 'I am afraid to send my child to the school,'" he said.

He bristled at the suggestion that he is exploiting parents' fear.

"I am in the business of personal defense," Caballero said. "I am not the aggressor. I am not the attack people. I only want to supply any solution in the United States."

But gun control advocates say that is ridiculous and companies like Caballero's are taking advantage of parents' panic over their children's safety to turn a profit.

Everitt said companies like Caballero's are part of the problem, not the solution.

"They have a profit motive," he said. "They're businessmen. The goal of a businessman is not to enact laws to ensure public safety."

Everitt, who is also a parent, was skeptical of how effective the backpack would be.

"Are they going to be wearing a bulletproof helmet, as well? Are they going to be covered from head to toe?" he asked. "If a guy walks in there and unloads more than 150 rounds in less than five minutes, how many kids are going to be saved by bulletproof clothing in that instance?"

Caballero insisted his products speak for themselves. To demonstrate, he fired eight shots from a 9mm handgun straight into one of his backpacks.

"So, you can see, no penetration," he said.

Caballero would not reveal the secrets of the backpack's technology, but he said the key is a special gel that absorbs the impact of the bullet and disperses the energy.

The National Institute of Justice, the American government agency that certifies bulletproof clothing, said Caballero's material passed bulletproof testing. His first shipment of 150 units was on its way to the U.S. just last month. Last week, the line officially launched here.

But Everitt said these products show we are losing sight of the real issue of gun control in America, and any parents considering putting their kids in body armor to go to school should ask themselves if they want their children to live in a country full of fear of being attacked.

"Does that sound like a vision of America, or does that sound like a third-world country?" Everitt said. "This is insane."

But for Boykin, that threat already exist,s and he wants to take action against it. The early reviews from Jaliyah on her new bulletproof backpack were mixed.

"It's tight, it's heavy and slow," she said, but she noted that she liked "the hearts, stars and fairies" that adorned it.

Now that Jalyiah can potentially protect herself with the backpack, her father said they might start going to the movies again.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct262012

Malala Yousufzai Has Tearful Family Reunion in British Hospital

University Hospital Birmingham(BIRMINGHAM, England) -- Malala Yousufzai had a tearful reunion with her family Friday in a British hospital where she is recuperating from her attempted assassination by the Taliban.

"My daughter is my companion," her father Ziauddin Yousufzai said Friday in Birmingham, England. "I love her. ...There were tears in our eyes when we first saw her. It was tears of happiness."

Ziauddin Yousufzai got choked up as he acknowledged that the family had drawn up funeral plans for Malala Yousufzai, an outspoken advocate for girls education shot point blank by a gunman in northern Pakistan's Swat Valley as she rode a school bus home Oct. 9. Two other girls were injured in the shooting.

Ziauddin Yousufzai, who traveled from Pakistan to England with Malala Yousufzai's mother and two brothers to visit the teen for the first time since the shooting, called his daughter's survival a "miracle."

Malala Yousufza, 15, is reportedly speaking and making remarkable progress at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where she was taken after the shooting.

Although she will need her skull reconstructed, a process that will take months, Malala Yousufzai has no signs of brain damage and is expected to make a full recovery, doctors have said.

One of the bullets that hit her grazed her skull, chipping the bone but not penetrating her brain.

Friday Ziauddin Yousufzai thanked the world for "supporting the cause for which she stands: peace and education." He called her shooter "an agent of Satan -- but I found angels on my side."

"When she fell, Pakistan stood. And this is a turning point," he said. "She will rise again, she will stand again. She can stand now."

Ziauddin Yousufzai runs the school that his daughter attended and has vowed to return to Pakistan with her, even though the Taliban has said it would continue to target her.

Malala Yousufzai first spoke out for girls' education in 2009, when she was 11 years old.

The Taliban had taken over most of the Swat Valley, blowing up schools and preventing girls from getting an education. Thousands of girls' schools were destroyed and girls who attempted to study feared getting kidnapped or attacked with acid.

 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb152011

Amanda Knox's Parents to Face Trial in Italy for Libel

Photo Courtesy - Tiziana Fabi/AFP/ Getty Images(ROME) -- The parents of Amanda Knox were ordered by an Italian judge Tuesday to stand trial for libel for saying in a newspaper interview their daughter had been mistreated by homicide police during a night-long interrogation.

Knox is appealing her murder conviction for the 2007 stabbing death of roommate Meredith Kercher.  Part of her defense is that she was abused by police who grilled her for hours without an attorney present.  She also claims the police cuffed her on the back of the head, denied her food and water, and yelled at her.

During that overnight interrogation, Knox told police she had a "vision" that she was in the cottage when Kercher was killed and heard her scream, placing herself at the scene of the crime.  Although Knox tried to retract the statement the next morning, it was used as evidence against her in her trial which resulted in a 26-year prison term.

Knox, who is from Seattle, has since been charged with slander for saying the police were abusive.

Her parents, who repeated their daughter's explanation in an interview with Sunday Times of London in 2009, have now also been ordered tried for libel.

The trial date for the parents, Edda Mellas and Curt Knox, was set for July 4 in Perugia, Italy.

The preliminary hearing judge charged that "in particular, they said, contrary to the truth, that Amanda had not been assisted by an interpreter, that she hadn't been given food or water, that she had been abused both physically and verbally," and finally "that she had been slapped on the back of the head and threatened," according to the Italian news agency ANSA.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan212011

Bahrain to Ban Parents from Choosing 'Improper' Names for Newborns

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(DUBAI) -- Members of the Shura Council in Bahrain have voted to amend its child protection law to state that parents could be banned from giving their newborns names found to be "unacceptable" by the government, according to Gulf Daily.  Officials say the law is meant to protect the rights of children who would be ridiculed for having an "improper" name and claim that children would also suffer psychological strain from such names.

Under the new law, Bahraini parents would be required to register their newborn's name with the government.  When the government finds that the child's name is not contradictory to religions or will not cause psychological problems for the child, it will issue a birth certificate stating that the name has been accepted.

The council has not yet discussed whether parents would be sanctioned for choosing names deemed unacceptable or if Bahraini children can make claims against their parents if they are unhappy with their given name, Gulf Daily said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio