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Here's what back-to-school shopping looks like when we refuse to act on gun violence.

Back-to-school shopping has always been an annual rite of passage for most families — but it's starting look a little different.

In the past, back-to-school time meant buying some pencils, crayons, and notebooks. But now, bulletproof backpacks are an item appearing on many people's lists.

In summer 2018, back-to-school shopping shelves and ads have included bulletproof backpacks, inserts, and clipboards. Bulletproof backpacks are also increasingly showing up in kiosks at shopping malls.


Just earlier in 2018, bulletproof shields were given to eighth-graders at a Pennsylvania middle school. The shields were meant to be inserted into the students' backpacks — to better prepare them for high school.

The trend of bulletproof backpacks shouldn't be that surprising.

According to a national poll by Phi Delta Kappa International released in July, 1 in 3 parents in the United States express fears and concerns about their children's safety in schools, mainly stemming from repeated occurrences of school shootings.

The Washington Post reported that, since the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, more than 215,000 students have experienced some form of gun violence at their school. So far, in 2018, there have been 23 reported school shootings.

Sales of bulletproof backpacks had a striking surge following the February 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida that killed 17 people. One manufacturer — Bullet Blocker — said orders of bulletproof backpacks had a 30% increase the day after the shooting. Another manufacturer, Guard Dog Security, reported a 150% increase in items shipped.

But here's the daunting reality: Bulletproof backpacks are not the answer.

While a lot of these bulletproof backpacks and inserts are marketed to provide security and convenience, the truth is far from it.

Bulletproof shields don't necessarily offer protection from assault weapons and rifles like that used in the Florida high school shooting. Safety consultants also have gone on the record to say that bulletproof products aren't very effective and are a real distraction from the actual solution: gun control reform.

School is meant to be a safe learning environment for children. It shouldn't be a war zone. Parents should not feel the need to send their children in bulletproof gear to school before some even learn how to read.

It's time for us to act. On Election Day November 2018, vote for candidates that fervently advocate for gun control. Until then, you can donate to gun control organizations, call your congressional representatives, and educate yourselves on state and federal gun laws.

Come on, America. We can do better.

"Freddie Mercury" by kentarotakizawa is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Fans are thrilled to hear Freddie Mercury's iconic voice once again.

Freddie Mercury had a voice and a stage presence unlike any other in rock music history. His unique talents helped propel the band Queen to the top of music charts and created a loyal fan base around the world.

Sadly, the world lost that voice when Mercury died of AIDS at age 45. For decades, most of us have assumed we'd heard all the music we were going to hear from him.

However, according to Yahoo! Entertainment, remaining Queen members Roger Taylor and Brian May announced this summer that they had found a never-released song they'd recorded with Mercury in 1988 as they were working on the album "The Miracle."

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Community

Hotel is giving away 10 all-expense-paid trips to help rebuild Patagonia hiking trail

Post your video entry by March 15 for a chance to do some good while exploring one of the world's most stunning ecosystems.

Las Torres Patagonia

Torres del Paine National Park

In the far southern reaches of South America, Patagonia beckons adventurers with its striking landscape. Rugged mountain peaks, deep valley vistas, pristine lakes, virgin forests, coastal cliffs and more combine to make this semi-arid land a paradise for nature lovers and photographers alike.

If you've ever seen a photo like this…

hiking trail next to a lake in patagoniaHiking trail at Torres del Paine National Park in PatagoniaLas Torres Patagonia

…and thought, "I have to go see that turquoise water for myself," now's your chance. Las Torres Patagonia is offering an all-expense-paid trip (including airfare) for 10 lucky winners to travel to Torres del Paine National Park in Chile and stay at the all-inclusive Las Torres Patagonia hotel for five days.

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We all know that Americans pay more for healthcare than every other country in the world. But how much more?

According an American expatriate who shared the story of his ER visit in a Taiwanese hospital, Americans are being taken to the cleaners when we go to the doctor. We live in a country that claims to be the greatest in the world, but where an emergency trip to the hospital can easily bankrupt someone.

Kevin Bozeat had that fact in mind when he fell ill while living in Taiwan and needed to go to the hospital. He didn't have insurance and he had no idea how much it was going to cost him. He shared the experience in a now-viral Facebook post he called "The Horrors of Socialized Medicine: A first hand experience."

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Lamb Chop and Mallory Lewis are creating nostalgia in Mellennials

"Lamb Chop's Play Along" taught a whole generation so many meaning for things. The little sock puppet taught kids things like manners, kindness and a really annoying song that doesn't have an ending. It'll probably be difficult to find a Millennial that doesn't know "The Song that Doesn't End" by Shari Lewis who voiced Lamb Chop.

The kids show aired from 1992 to 1997 on PBS, with Shari passing away just a year later. But turns out everyone's favorite squeaky voiced lamb wasn't done bringing people joy. Shari's daughter Mallory Lewis has taken up her mom's throne as Lamb Chops handler and the internet couldn't be more thrilled to see the duo.

Mallory has the same fiery red curly hair that her mom did and has brought Lamb Chop, Charley Horse and Hush Puppy back out to play. To the delight of Millennials, the sassy lamb is still just six years old and gets Mallory into some tricky situations when trying to explain things to the puppet.

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via Sitwithit / Instagram

Validation and Hope vs. Toxic Positivity

A Helpful Chart to Explain the Difference Between Support and 'Toxic Positivity" was originally published on The Mighty.

There's no denying that positivity can be powerful. I know when I'm struggling with anxiety and negative thoughts, if I can hold onto an ounce of hope — that I'll make it through, that I'm not defined by my thoughts, that I'm not as bad as my brain is making me out to be — I can cope a little better.

The positivity we hold within ourselves, when we can manage it, makes it a little easier to get by.

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Family

How 5 diabolical parents called their kids' bluff in hilarious ways

The next generation is in great, if diabolical, hands.

Photo by Phuong Tran on Unsplash



Recently, blogger Jen Hatmaker had a funny conversation with a friend about parenting:

"My girlfriend told me the greatest story. Apparently her 11-year-old also wanted to be a grown up this week and, in fact, not only did he treat his siblings like despised underlings, but when asked what he wanted, he said: 'I want the authority to be in charge of them and tell them what to do, because they deserve it!'


Well. My girlfriend and her husband are NOT AT ALL MESSING AROUND with parenting. Calmly, evenly, they granted his request to be a grown-up for a week by pulling him out of camp (the underlings still got to go, because they are 'such children') and sending him to work ALL DAY EVERY DAY with his dad. He has to get up early and shower and make breakfast for everyone. He has to kiss the underlings before he goes to work and tell them to have a great day and that he loves them. He has to work on a typing project during his office hours. He only gets to eat what his dad eats, because eating like a grown-up is not nearly as fun as eating like a kid.


Want to be an adult? Fine."

Photo via iStock.

Hatmaker's post went viral, with thousands of parents chiming in with their own stories of tough love, both giving and receiving.

The responses were hilarious, poignant, and a sign that the next generation is being parented by extremely capable, if not a little bit diabolical, hands.

Here are five of my favorite stories from the comments about parenting-gone-absolutely-right:

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