06/06/2018 10:59 BST

Children Given Bulletproof Shields As Graduation Gift From St Cornelius School In Pennsylvania

'This puts the protection in your hands, as opposed to hiding and curling in a corner.'

Unequal Technologies
Students at  St. Cornelius School pose with the ballistic shields they were gifted by their school

A school in the US has given teenagers a thoughtful but somewhat horrifying graduation gift – bullet-proof shields for their backpacks. 

Students at Pennsylvania’s St Cornelius School were given the 10-by-12 inch inserts on Monday.

Robert Vito, director of the company that gave out the freebies, told Sky News he was approached by the school’s principal, who wanted to improve the safety of staff and students.

Vito’s daughter attends the school, which is just outside Philadelphia. ”(Shootings) have become the norm for schoolchildren,” he said. “The principal of my daughter’s school asked me; ‘Is there something you can do to protect the faculty and the kids?’

“This puts the protection in your hands, as opposed to hiding and curling in a corner. You have the ability to protect yourself.”

The company, called Unequal Technologies, says the shields resist many types of bullets, shotgun blasts, shrapnel and knives but do not protect against high-powered rifles, like the one used to kill 17 people at a Florida high school in February.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz who is accused of the Valentine’s day shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

He is facing 17 counts of first-degree premeditated murder and 17 counts of first-degree attempted murder.

The company’s senior vice president, Jim Caldwell, told the Associated Press that as students go through their high school years, the shields are “a gift that hopefully they’ll never have to use.”

According to figures compiled by CNN, up to May 25, there had so far been 23 school shootings where someone had been hurt or killed in the US in 2018. 

Figures compiled by Everytown for Gun Safety, up to May 21, put the figure at 42 – though not all of the incidents it compiled involved students. It said there had been 20 victims.