Active Shooters: Walking the Fine Line
Updated: Feb 25, 2019
How To Address Active Shooters with Kids
Active shooter situations have become a hot-button issue recently, and, while most people’s go-to argument after a tragic active shooting event is about gun control and Second Amendment rights, there is another argument that has taken the stage. Should our children be receiving active shooter training in schools? As a disclaimer, this blog is merely meant to present the argument and weigh the evidence on both sides. While we at TBG Solutions believe that the more prepared a person is, the better, we can also agree that there are appropriate and inappropriate ways to go about achieving this preparedness. This blog is meant to present the two sides of the argument in a way that allows the reader to make his or her own informed decision concerning the matter.
Should our children be receiving active shooter training in schools?
In short, it depends. To truly decide the answer to this question for yourself, we must consider both sides of the argument. While students still participate in fire-drills at school, fires have not truly been a threat for schools in over fifty years. Yet, active shooter situations present a significant danger to our nation’s schools, and hardly any schools hold active shooter drills for their students. According to John Iannerelli, a retired FBI special agent executive who writes for the Wall Street Journal, “In the event of a fire, most kids know to get out of the school building quickly and in an orderly fashion. In an active-shooter situation they need to be prepared to do more, including barricading themselves in a classroom until help arrives. In a worst-case scenario, they need to be prepared to fight back.” In addition, LearningLiftoff.com states that, “Educators overwhelmingly agree that it’s crucial for students and teachers to be prepared with as many safety/escape strategies as possible.”
According to the opposing argument, the idea that “kindergarteners are learning to stack chairs and desks up against doors to keep ‘bad guys’ out and make the classroom ‘like a fort’” is traumatizing, not only for the child but also for the parents and teachers. No parent or teacher likes to face the idea that an active shooter situation could happen at their school with their students and children. The concern is that the act of putting a child through active shooter training makes them fearful that they will become a victim and increases their anxiety on a day-to-day basis.
Potential Solution: While children may face an amount of stress or fear at the thought of an active shooter, so do adults. There is a fine line we must walk to empower our students and children without instilling in them fears and paranoia. The solution may lie simply within the duties of the caregivers. According to an article in Stanford Alumni Magazine, “The challenge is that you want to prepare the kids for something to happen, but you don’t want to add anxiety through preparation. It’s not so much about having a drill or not having a drill, but about how you are going to talk about it…It should be ‘This is a safe environment and we will take care of you. This drill is part of that process.’” For children to be relieved of the trauma and anxiety associated with the idea of an active shooter, there needs to be a clear trust of the adults in his or her life. Parents, teachers, and others entrusted with their care should make them feel safe and comfortable while still preparing them in case a tragedy does occur. There are ways to present the topic in a fun and relaxed environment, and there are ways to talk about it with your students and children that will give them the empowerment they need without the side effects of the anxiety and fear.
At TBG Solutions, we believe that both students and teachers should be prepared in an active shooter event. We must go no further than to look at the example of Jesse Lewis at Sandy Hook, a 6-year-old who saved 11 children by being prepared. However, we also believe that the right environment is crucial to walking the fine line of empowerment without fear. The training we offer is “fun,” for lack of a better word, and relaxed rather than tense and serious. We truly believe that in the proper training environment, students and teachers can leave feeling prepared and empowered rather than fearful and anxious.
What do you think? Should students go through active shooter drills in school? How would you approach the topic with your child or student? We would love to hear your comments and suggestions. Contact Us
*Photos used from public domain