One Robb Elementary instructor heard gunfire bursting across the hall She yelled at the children to move under the desks and sprinted to lock the glass door. “They’ve been practicing for this day for years,” the teacher said to NBC. “They knew that this wasn’t just a drill. We knew that we needed to be quiet or we would surrender ourselves.”
The lockdown drills (or “active shooting drills”)have become a common practice American in public education, being used in over 90 percent of schools, and required in over forty states. However, despite their widespread use, there is no guidance from the federal government regarding exactly how the drills should be run, creating insignificant variations and controversies — across the nation.
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For-profit firms with huge marketing budgets market their own programs for preparedness to schools, even though there isn’t much evidence to support the efficacy of their approach. A few students have complained of experiencing trauma after the exercises however, others claim they experience a feeling of self-confidence. Recently, reports have surfaced of overzealous strategies such as shooting teachers using plastic pellets and simulating gunfire and even using faux blood.
While the media continue to piece together the details of what happened at Robb Elementary It’s evident that the school was put on lockdown. Teachers locked the doors of their classrooms, switched off the lights, moved the class away from the hallway, and kept the classroom silent.
The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District In the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, all schools are using schools that use the Standard Response Protocol for lockdowns. This protocol is a set of specific instructions that are promoted in the name of the “I Love U Guys” Foundation which was founded by parents who started in 2006 following the tragic death of their daughter who had been murdered in an incident by a Colorado shooter at a school. The procedure instructs teachers to secure doors and make sure that students remain away from the school and remain still. A fourth-grader who escaped the shooting told CBS station KENS of San Antonio that when he saw the shooting, he advised the victim to conceal beneath something. “I was hiding hard,” the child claimed. “And I was telling my friend to not talk because [the shooter] is going to hear us.” These incidents suggest that the lockdown drills actually helped students and staff to respond quickly. There is evidence to suggest that the students and teachers in Uvalde were trained in lockdown drills effectively, and it was the local police that did not follow the guidelines. At present, the majority of experts suggest that if we’re living in a culture in which school shootings are a threat communities face schools must plan for drills, but be aware of how they’re conducted and take steps to limit the injury.
The need for lockdown drills
The number of schools that began practicing lockdown drills following the massacre at a high school in 1999 at Columbine, Colorado, but the numbers jumped dramatically after the massacre in the school of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012. While homicides committed by youth are more unlikely to happen in schools than in other settings teachers and school officials have to be able to react to these terrifying incidents.
Research suggests the importance of lockdown exercises as crucial tools, according to Jaclyn Schildkraut, Professor of Criminal Justice at the State University of New York at Oswego who examines lockdown drills in schools. One reason could be that the more often a school follows a particular procedure the more adept students and staff are at remembering every step.
“This is particularly important as [emergency] drills … are designed to build muscle memory, which allows a person to perform certain functions in chaotic situations, such as an active attacker when their mind is still trying to process what is taking place,” she stated in the 2020 report. Research has also found that emergency training programs can help students learn capabilities as well as it is the National Association of School Psychologists has also recommended locking down drills as a means to be prepared for emergency situations.
The findings of Schildkraut suggest that teachers as well as students who participate during lockdown exercises are better prepared and feel more confident in the event of an emergency.
However, what she found was that students felt less secure in their school, perhaps as a result of having to think about the dangers they may face in the future.
There are some who say it’s not necessary for youngsters to exercise when they can follow the instructions of their teachers in the case in the event of an emergency. An example of this is when you fly on an airplane. Passengers are given instructions by their pilots on the best place to go for information should there be an emergency, but they do not have to learn the emergency procedures prior to when the flight departs.
Schildkraut noted that teachers are usually the first that are shot dead in school shootings. “You can’t remove the only people with the information and then expect anyone else to do it,” she said to me. “Everyone has to have the tools to stay safe at the moment.”
The advocates of lockdown readiness have also pointed to the Parkland, Florida, shooting in the year 2018 in which students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School did not receive any training for active shooters and the school did not have a lockdown procedure in place.
This lack of instruction Experts says that this was the main reason why teachers and students on the 3rd first floor of Marjory Stoneman Douglas were forced to evacuate their classrooms after hearing the sound of a fire alarm. (The alarm was caused by a blast from the gun used by the shooter.) The shooter was on his third-floor home, he killed five students who were in the hallway as well as a teacher in the classroom, holding the door open.
However, there is no federal guidance regarding the best practices for lockdown drills, despite numerous requests for help. In 2013 federal agencies supported a controversial method called “Run, Hide, Fight,” encouraging school employees who are unable to hide or move in the event of an active shooter in order in an effort to “incapacitate” the perpetrator with “aggressive force” or nearby objects such as fire extinguishers. The training provided by the federal government did not provide any guidance on how or whether teachers are required to employ such strategies.
in the last Report from the Federal Commission on School Safety created following Parkland the report’s authors recommended that federal agencies develop guidelines for active shooter education however, to date, those haven’t been implemented. A spokesperson from the Department of Homeland Security did not respond to requests for comment A spokesperson from the Department of Education provided links to guidelines regarding the subject of active shooters as well as incidental incidents however, they did not provide any guidance on specific drills.
A variety of firms and consultants have entered the fray, offering “options-based” approaches they claim are superior to conventional exercises. They include training personnel using more techniques, such as blocking doors or even engaging armed shooters. One of the most well-known players in this field is Alice the biggest for-profit supplier of active-shooting training within the US. With a large marketing budget, Alice is able to travel across the nation to promote its products even having limited research to back the model.
“There’s no requirement on what model to use, and right now it’s everyone trying to figure it out,” Schildkraut explained.
What lockdown drills could be harmful?
In light of the steady reportage of news stories concerning active shooter drills that create fears in children and lawsuits involving injuries suffered by employees advocates have called for greater attention to the extent to which lockdown drills can cause trauma or are required. Psychologists have said that establishing standards for drills is crucial for children whose brains and strategies for coping are just beginning to develop. Others advocate for more emphasis on prevention-based safety strategies such as increasing mental health services and creating anonymous tip lines for children.
A lack of research that is high-quality exists regarding the mental health hazards of lockdown drills. However, in 2021 Georgia Tech researchers, in collaboration together with Everytown for Gun Safety, released a study analyzing social media posts in the days before and after drills at 33 states with 114 schools.
The research team found that drills are linked to an increase in stress, depression anxiety, stress, and physical health issues for children and teachers as well as parents. They also suggested that administrators reconsider their schools’ dependence on drills. “We provide the first empirical evidence that school shooter drills — in their current, unregulated state — negatively impact the psychological well-being of entire school communities,” the authors wrote.
Others say that the exercises might be detrimental due to the fact that most school shooters are usually either former or current students of these schools. The drills could trigger “socially contagious” behaviors, according to some critics, and could deter school officials from making other preventive safety decisions.
Alice’s techniques, which include alarming simulations, are attracting attention. However, in the month of December 2021, the time a shooter killed the lives of four pupils at Oxford High School in Michigan the school’s leaders acknowledged that they had been prepared for an attack with the Alice training session two years before. The head of the school, Alice said Oxford could have witnessed many more deaths without the instruction. A study one study that was published in the year 2020 under the direction of an instructor in criminal justice from Xavier University in Cincinnati, found that about one-tenth of students experienced psychological trauma after Alice’s training, however, over 85 percent of them said that they did not experience any changes in their mood or felt that they felt more confident, prepared or secure. The professor who supervised the study -Cheryl Lero Jonson — published 2018 a study that argued the idea that “options-based” approaches like Alice were “more effective civilian response[s]” to shooting incidents than lockdown drills that are typically taught in schools. Some critics point out that Lero Jonson is a certified Alice instructor, and claim her findings aren’t independent.
Schildkraut, who is a specialist in methods like the Standard Response Protocol method, said she doesn’t think it was appropriate to say if one method is superior or more effective, however, she believes that advocates of Alice-like strategies mislead the public when they claim that traditional lockdown drills do not require the use of.
“When we teach our students we never tell them that you have to choose this choice. In the event that you’re located in an open space or near an exit door the best choice is to exit this building” She said. “The reason why there’s a heavier focus on the lockdown as an option [and the ‘L’ in Alice stands for lockdown] is that kids remember things in a very linear fashion, and the best thing a student can do is shut the door and get out of the way.”
To lessen the chance of injuries, a rising group of specialists and activists have come forward to offer recommendations for lockdown drills. In August of 2020, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced its opposition to active shooter drills that are high-intensity drills. It issued recommendations, including avoiding deceit during the drills and incorporating input from students into the designs. The AAP advised making adjustments to students who might have experienced trauma in the past or are a greater likelihood of negative reactions. Then, a month after that The National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and Everytown for Gun Safety issued their own guidelines on school-based safety exercises, which included eliminating students from the drills altogether. If they do require students to participate, teachers’ unions and Everytown recommend giving parents notice to avoid simulations that simulate the actual shooting and using language that is age-appropriate, developed by working with schools’ mental health professionals. In May 2021 The National Association of School Psychologists as well as The National Association of School Resource Officers as well as Safe and Sound Schools issued their own guidance regarding school lockdown drills. The guidance recommends that, among other things, seeking parental consent and training teachers to identify signs of trauma. In the past year, driven by the latest Georgia Tech research, lawmakers in Washington state approved a law restricting school lockdown drills that involve realistic simulations or reenactments which do not meet the criteria of being “trauma-informed and age and developmentally appropriate.” The law will take effect in the month of June. Researchers have stated that more research studies of high quality are needed to determine the long-term effects of lockdown drills as well as to create standardized procedures that can lower the risk. The federal government could help.