After a gunman entered Oxford High School in Michigan last December, students who had been trained how to respond in such an event hid and sheltered in place. Though four students were killed and seven were wounded, some school safety experts said the active shooter drills appeared to have saved lives and that students are better off feeling prepared.
After the killings last week of 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Tex., new questions are being raised about whether the training — which is done in nearly all U.S. public schools — is useful and whether for many students, especially young ones, they can do more harm than good.
Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit organization that advocates for gun control, says on its website that questions have been raised about the drills in regard to an “overreliance on preparing for rare events; the feasibility of children retaining the information; increased risk of harm associated with fighting back; risk of counterproductive information-sharing given that many mass school shooters are current or former students of that school; and risk of inducing trauma.” Other issues include an inconsistency in drills — “with some schools providing advanced parental notification and developmentally appropriate exercises, and others employing “masked gunmen” actors, simulated gunfire, and failing to inform participants when the drills are over.”
“With for-profit companies charging school districts thousands of dollars for trainings, the active shooter drill industry is part of a school safety industry worth an estimated $2.7 billion — all in pursuit of a practice that, to date, is not evidence-based,” it says.
With all of that in mind, here are some tweets about the usefulness of these drills that raise their own questions about whether they are useful and why this country needs them:
I just told my 3rd grader about the shooting. She replied:— Erin Alberty (@erinalberty) May 24, 2022
"Yeah. We had a lockdown drill today. There aren't very many hiding places in our room. The good ones all get taken in like 3 seconds."
Then she left.
This level of gun violence is a choice.— Zach W. Lambert (@ZachWLambert) May 24, 2022
Last year, my kindergartner had to participate in an active shooter drill called Escape The School.
I'll never forget holding him while he cried that night because he was so scared someone was going to bring a gun to his school.
My daughter was in the bathroom during a drill when she was 9. They tell the kids to stay put but she panicked and ran back to class and couldn't get in. There were physical effects from the stress she experienced that day. I hate how our country treats kid's and teachers safety.— (@lkrodgers17) May 25, 2022
Talked to a friend last nite. She was volunteering in her 8 yr old's school when they had a "active shooter drill". The teacher pulled down blinds, locked the door & kids huddled in a back corner of the room, without talking. My friend said it was all she could do not to cry.😥— LeahMcGrath (@LeahMcGrathRD) May 29, 2022
I keep thinking about the kid who told their parents they hate active shooter drills because, “The good hiding places are always taken first.” Every drill, some kids are thinking, “There’s nothing to hide behind. He’ll be able to see me.” Lord, have mercy.— Mary Spradlin 🌻 (@minimar7) May 29, 2022
My son’s friend was in the hallway when they had a lockdown drill, and was locked out. My son still has nightmares about him screaming and banging on the door, and that was just a drill. 4th grade. My son stopped going to the bathroom at school, afraid he would be locked out.— Katie Belliel (@KatieBelliel) May 25, 2022
Political cartoon depicting 3 masked children under school desks on class, chairs behind desks. Green chalkboard in background announces "Active Shooter Drill Today."— Freedom2B (@Freedom22BB) May 29, 2022
Middle child says to child on our left, "My parents worry about the psychological implications of our masks." pic.twitter.com/bT2YcoAoGM
When I taught elementary school, I taught moderate to severe spec ed. My young students were not able to learn school shooter drill protocols. Every single drill terrorized my students and stressed the classroom staff, setting the entire week back.— MEND Family Court (@MENDFamilyCourt) May 29, 2022
No student benefits from this.
During every school shooter drill for the past 20 years, I've promised my students that I would do whatever it takes to try and keep them safe if we were ever in that horrible position together.— Bill Ferriter (@plugusin) May 25, 2022
It is America's greatest shame that those words even need to come out of my mouth.
Okay so I’m not an American, I’ve never attended an American school, and never participated in a shooter drill so I have a question— Hoeja Cat (@T_llulah) May 25, 2022
If the shooter is a student or was recently- wouldn’t they be familiar with all your safety drills and tactics and find a way around it?
As a teacher in Australia, the idea of having to do an active shooter drill is horrifying. I can’t believe how normalised gun violence is in the USA— KelBun (@Calbunn) May 25, 2022
Here in the UK, my kids have never had an Active Shooter Drill. They don't need bulletproof backpacks. They go to school every day and zero percent of my brain is worrying that this might be the day there are killed in class.— Ben Stephens 🌻 (@stephens_ben) May 27, 2022
Freedom comes in more than one flavour, America. #2A
I instructed our kids’ school to give me advance notice of their “intruder” drills so I can keep them home. I will not have my boys rehearse their possible murders or those of their friends and teachers. They’ve endured enough trauma. So much needs changing.— Kaye (@KayeSteinsapir) May 27, 2022
My 9 year old could not check out The Hunger Games from the elementary library at her school, because violence. But she also gets to use her 9 year old wit and cunning in ALICE drills to practice not becoming an actual Tribute. School shootings are the real Hunger Games. pic.twitter.com/1MYBh6W4eH— CronFest: Democracy forever (@CronFest) May 26, 2022