Do shoot­ing drills trau­ma­tize kids?

The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT) - - NATION/WORLD -

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, in­clud­ing whether 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 that 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 in Vir­ginia 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.

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