Even though schools face a 1 in 614,000,000 chance on any given day to experience an active shooter situation, 96% of America’s schools conduct lockdown drills meant to protect students from shooters. Required by state laws and local ordinances, these lockdown drills are meant to keep students, teachers, and staff prepared for the worst. However, some experts say that these drills are doing more to harm the emotional and mental states of these individuals in the process.
While teens are right to feel worried about the potential for an active shooter scenario, undergoing these drills, which include simulated gunfire, are potentially doing more harm than good.
School shootings with multiple victims are still rare, even with recent shootings that have occurred. The overall number of students killed in shootings at schools is actually down from the 1990s. What’s more, the likelihood of a public school student being killed by a gun in school still hovers around one in 614 million as mentioned above.
Now, experts in education and school safety are starting to see a shift. Schools are simulating an actual scenario taking place with gunfire and hostages, dressing someone up as an active shooter and pretending to take over the school. Blanks are being fired or rubber bullets are being used in some of the training, which is causing major concern.
In creating a sensorial experience, heightening the senses of those involved, the potential for emotional and psychological duress rises. What the drills may actually be doing is creating potential triggers in students and staff, hitting on past traumas such as a physiological reaction that ends up scaring them instead of preparing them.
An option that researchers are touting in preparing students and staff members of schools is to limit the number of lockdowns as well as their severity. Talking through what it means to go into lockdown and where they should be positioned can still be effective and limit the overall hands-on experience.
When teaching these drills, administrators and staff can utilize education and teachable moments instead of actual gunfire and loud noises that could end up backfiring and causing distress and fear. There are still ways to teach these things without having to put students through trauma and unneeded stress while still allowing them to respond accordingly.
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