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Special Report: Body armor for kids

Is there a price too steep to pay to keep your kids safe at school?

For one dad named Alex, that answer is no.

Alex said a few years ago, he started putting armor panels he had lying around in his bags and eventually thought, why not do it for his son?

"If something did happen, and he was injured in a way that could've been prevented by something that I could've done, how could I live with myself?" Alex said.

It's why southern California-based company DFNDR Armor said more parents are ordering from it. The company's CEO, David Fernandez, said it launched its products to civilians last year.

"It was first being purchased by individuals and we didn't find out until months later that they were actually putting it into their kids' backpacks," Fernandez said.

Fernandez said while DFNDR Armor's main clients are law enforcement, month-to-month sales for purchases by regular people in California are continuing to climb.

"It is unfortunate that in light of some of the active shooter situations that are occurring, that that's happening," Fernandez said. "However, now we have a technology that's available, that's lightweight, that's easy to wear, that people can purchase that is available to them," he said.

So, how does it work? Fernandez gives us a tour of the testing lab in southern California.

"This is our room where we make the projectiles or the bullets," Fernandez said, citing the company does that to better control the testing.

And Fernandez said there is a thorough amount of testing before the product is made.

"That box is conditioned in an oven to a certain temperature and consistency to ensure that it reflects the human body," Fernandez said as he shows us some of the testing materials.

Fernandez said the quality of products that come out of all this testing is the same as for the company's military clients. He said the material being used is supposed to defeat the bullets and have the lowest trauma to the body as possible.

The end result is armor panels that can provide protection against rifles or handguns that you can stick in a purse or any backpack.

Fernandez even said in some cases the panels are lighter than a textbook.

DFNDR Armor's 9.5 X 12.5 panel weighs just more than a pound. Its rifle panels can weigh about 3.5 pounds.

Fernandez said depending on the type and size, they can run parents anywhere from $150 to $600 or more.

It's a cost Corina Lopez thinks parents should avoid altogether.

"How can you explain to a child why they have to wear it, number one," Lopez said. "Number two, what would be the thing that would run through a child's mind? A child would freeze," she said.

Lopez is the president of Blush and Bullets Gun Club, where she helps educate and teach women how to use a firearm. She also teaches kids' classes.

Lopez said she believes the kids won't freeze in that kind of situation if they know what to do. Lopez said her alternative to having kids pack armor is to familiarize them with guns and then have a plan of action.

"They would be able to have a better comprehension of the situation, I am in a dangerous situation, so now what do I know and I'm going to do what I was told," Lopez said.

But for Alex, he said that panel is going in his son's backpack whenever he goes to school.

"The best defense we can have is just stacking as many good options," Alex said.

Some tactical gear, gun, and gun range businesses in the central valley said they have not heard of parents doing this for their kids in the valley. But some law enforcement experts said perhaps some parents either don't know these armor panels are available or they don't want to broadcast they're doing it.

DFNDR Armor's CEO did tell Fox 26 News it is always looking at ways to make its products more affordable. For more information about the company, visit: http://www.dfndrarmor.com/.

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