Realistic School Shooting Drills Are Seriously Going Overboard

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shutterstock_8563339Shooting sprees and mass gun violence in schools have prompted some schools to implement shooting drills, preparing kids for what to do if that type of violent scenario ever took place. I don’t have a problem with that. I have a problem with the way in which some schools going about it.

Some of these drills are implementing measures that can only be described as extreme scare tactics; police officers bursting into schools with guns, students covered in fake blood wounds, actors firing blanks at school officials. What the hell is going on here? Is this necessary? From the Associated Press:

Brandee Davidson‘s 10-year-old said she and her classmates were startled when two police officers burst through the door with guns at the October exercise at Howe Hall, even though they were told about the lockdown drill in advance.

The Howe Hall exercise ended in a flurry of fake gunfire created by officers yelling “bang-bang-bang” and a “suspect’s down” radio dispatch.

I grew up in California. A regular part of our school year consisted of “duck and cover” drills that taught you to take cover under your desk or in a doorway in the event that an earthquake struck. We had regular fire drills, of course, showing us our path of exit and how to drop low to the ground to avoid smoke in the event that we needed to escape a fire. It never occurred to anyone to ever actually set off a smoke bomb, or simulate the violent shaking of a building by having books fall off their shelves. Because it’s not necessary. I can’t get behind mock drills that feign realism and cause unneccessary anxiety. What’s the point?

Lockdowns and evacuations can be explained in a manner that does not create fear and panic, said consultant Kenneth Trump, president of the National School Safety and Security Services.

“We don’t need to teach kids to attack armed intruders by throwing pencils and books at a gunman or to have a SWAT team at the kindergarten doors, but it’s not unreasonable for school leaders to make sure that students, teachers and support staff know what to do in an emergency,” he said.

I think it’s a sad sign of the times that emergency drills may include kids hiding quietly in closets to evade gunmen. But I think going through the motions of that is scary enough. I don’t want my child subjected to fake gunfire or “bloodied” students. There is a big difference between fostering an environment of preparedness and fostering one of anxiety and fear.

(photo: Daniel Gale/


  1. Lastango

    February 10, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    This is not about school safety. It is about expanding government, and the SWAT-ification of America. Conducting exercises like this helps justify the existence of militarized police departments. Viewed that way, the events at the school are only the latest manifestation of a well-established trend. Many federal agencies have SWAT teams — the Department of Education, for instance:
    And no, they don’t use it for school safety. Like RICO, it’s a weapon for terrorizing ordinary citizens into compliance – or else.

  2. BDHA

    February 11, 2013 at 1:18 am

    I agree that adding such dramatization to school shooting drills can and probably does cause extra anxiety among the students, especially with elementary aged kids. My 9 year old’s school has these drills, which they call code red drills. They don’t do anything but come over the loud speaker, and then the teachers lock the doors, cover the windows, and huddle the kids away in a corner. BUT even with that simple of a drill, she comes home and has nightmares after the drills. And it’s only on the days that they have code red drills. I can’t imagine how much worse it would be for her if they made the drills more realistic.

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