Home > Uncategorized > Medium Blogger Suggests Alternatives to Fear-mongering “Active Shooter Drills”

Medium Blogger Suggests Alternatives to Fear-mongering “Active Shooter Drills”

The typical response to the horrific school shootings has been to fight fear with fear. Instead taking steps to identify ways to prevent shootings, politicians, parents, and voters have the same response: we need to accept the fact that shootings will persist and prepare our children to deal with shootings and harden our schools to make sure they don’t happen again.

In “Active Shooter Drills Aren’t the Answer“, Medium blogger BrennaDemands looks more deeply at the source of the mindset that leads to the shootings, identifies some of the factors in the day-to-day lives of children that contribute to that mindset, and offers some ideas about how we might deal differently with shootings.

She opens her article by describing the impact of “duck and cover” drills on my generation, emphasizing the traumatic effect it had on many children. BrennaDemands then offers an insight from a fifth grade child she read in an Unworthy article that resonated with me:

When we were sitting under the desks, I had a slight bit of doubt in the idea. To my fifth-grade self, it didn’t seem like the best idea to just be hiding if someone were to come in and try and hurt us. It would only take a few seconds of searching to find 25-plus kids and a teacher all cramped under those tables. … At the time, I automatically assumed that the adults knew more than we did. I figured that we were much safer than I realize we actually were, in retrospect.

this resonated because it reflected how my fifth-grade self came to two realizations: that hiding under a desk would not save us from the effects of a nuclear explosion and that the chances of a nuclear attack on Tulsa, Oklahoma where I lived at the time were extraordinarily remote.

The fifth grade child’s quote addresses the preposterousness of hiding under a desk as a safety measure, and later in the essay she addresses the statistical realities of school shootings:

the likelihood a child will be killed at school is less than one in a million according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The chances of dying in a car or traffic accident are one in 5,000. And I feel comfortable on the road with my children knowing that I have taken steps to purchase a vehicle with safety features, installed the recommended car seats for their age and weight, and acquired training on how to drive a car at the appropriate speed limit.

But BrennaDemands is especially outraged at the fact that there is no evidence whatsoever that the active shooter drills save lives, reports by the mainstream media notwithstanding. And she questions the value of reinforcing the idea that shootings are inevitable by holding these drills. Drawing on the statics cited above, she writes:

I do not need to simulate car crashes — with swerving and screaming and fire — for my children to understand what to do in the event of an emergency. There is no benefit to enacting a realistic car crash scenario that would outweigh the associated anxiety and trauma. Though I may not be able to prevent a car accident from occurring one hundred percent of the time, I have peace of mind that I’ve done enough to increase our odds of survival if it ever does happen.

She does acknowledge that there is one precaution that every teacher should take in the highly unlikely event of an active shooter stalking the school, and it is a precaution that only involves the adults in the school:

I understand that some administrators, teachers, and even parents believe we must do everything possible — and rehearse every scenario — to get an A+ at active shooter preparedness. But if the number one safety recommendation is a classroom door that can be locked from the inside, and if all adults in the building are knowledgeable of the lockdown protocols, then to what degree do children young and old need to be involved in the process?

In response to the inevitable question of what schools should do, BrennaDemands offers some ideas:

we need to listen to what kids are asking for and what makes them feel safe. We need to flood schools with more mental health professionals, not more armed guards. We need to know the signs to spot future school shooters. We need to break down the social isolation that causes loneliness and anger, which is much more likely to end in teen suicide.

BrennaDemands senses that parents and students are ahead of politicians and voters on this issue. They are tired of pointless and frightening drills that cause students to believe that school shootings are inevitable in the same way duck and cover drills led my generation to believe that nuclear war was imminent. They are tired of yielding to those who insist that everyone must be able to buy any kind of weapon and ammunition they desire. They are beginning to become a force to be reckoned with… albeit a gentle but persistent force. She concludes her essay with this:

It is time for the next generation to stop huddling in darkened classrooms and step out into the light. It’s time to show our country a better way to live.

I hope the parents and children will show us the way forward.

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