Par­ents con­sid­er­ing whether shoot­ing drills can harm kids

Las Vegas Review-Journal - - NATION - By Carolyn Thomp­son The As­so­ci­ated Press

BUF­FALO, N.Y. — Long be­fore an ex-stu­dent opened fire on his for­mer class­mates in Park­land, Florida, many school dis­tricts con­ducted reg­u­lar shoot­ing drills — ex­er­cises that some­times in­cluded sim­u­lated gun­fire and blood and of­ten hap­pened with no warn­ing that the at­tack wasn’t real.

The drills be­gan tak­ing shape af­ter the Columbine High School shoot­ing in 1999. But 20 years later, par­ents are in­creas­ingly ques­tion­ing el­e­ments of the prac­tice and won­der­ing if the drills trau­ma­tize kids.

April Sul­li­van was pleas­antly sur­prised by an “I love you, Mom” text from her daugh­ter last May, even though she knew the eighth-grader wasn’t sup­posed to be us­ing her cell­phone dur­ing school in Short Pump, Vir­ginia. But she did not know her child sent it while sup­pos­edly hid­ing from an in­truder. The girl didn’t know the “code blue” alert was a drill.

“To find out later she sent that text be­cause she was in fear for her life did not sit well with me,” Sul­li­van said.

Hen­rico County Pub­lic Schools have since changed the way they con­duct drills, mak­ing clear at the start that the events are not real and no­ti­fy­ing par­ents as the drill be­gins or right af­ter, dis­trict spokesman Andy Jenks said.

The back­lash un­der­lines the chal­lenges ad­min­is­tra­tors face in de­cid­ing how far to go in the name of pre­pared­ness.

Thirty-nine states re­quire lock­down, ac­tive-shooter or sim­i­lar safety drills. Other states have less ex­plicit re­quire­ments or leave it to dis­tricts, ac­cord­ing to the Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mis­sion of the States. A Mis­sis­sippi task force has pro­posed twice-yearly ac­tive-shooter drills.

But even as the drills be­come rou­tine for many of the 51 mil­lion U.S. el­e­men­tary and sec­ondary pub­lic school stu­dents, there is no con­sen­sus on how they should be con­ducted, ex­perts said.

In 2014, the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of School Psy­chol­o­gists and the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of School Re­source Of­fi­cers is­sued joint guid­ance that cau­tioned that while drills have the po­ten­tial to save lives, those “not con­ducted ap­pro­pri­ately” can cause “phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal harm to stu­dents, staff and the over­all learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment.”

Rachel Denny Clow The As­so­ci­ated Press file

A stu­dent helps block the class­room door with fur­ni­ture dur­ing a mock lock­down drill in 2013 at Moody High School in Cor­pus Christi, Texas.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.