“Are active shooter drills effective?”
In the United States of America, school shootings are happening more frequently since in April 1999, the shooting at Columbine High School. That’s why schools conduct active shooter drills in schools. The active-shooter drills are actually when school teachers, students, and other school faculty are needed by the local or national government to practice how to protect themselves when there are shootings on the school premises. However, active shooter drills have proven to be ineffective at preventing deaths in school shooting scenarios. In addition, many mental health professionals have begun campaigns that are warning people against active shooter drills. The campaigns are due to the possible short-term and long-term effects on students’ physical and mental health that comes with drills. The National Association of School Psychologists issued a statement claiming that the drills can trigger past trauma that has a negative physiological reaction that causes terror to an individual instead of positively preparing them to respond to school shootings (Moore et al. n.p).
The American Federation of Teachers, school educators, parents, the National Education Association, and mental medical professionals have recently condemned active shooter drills claiming that schools should stop using active shooter drills unannounced. The groups argue that we should be careful not to traumatize the school the students and be careful to prepare our students for school shootings.
Even though there is limited research available that shows the effectiveness of the active shooter drills, studies suggest that the active shooter drill can be constructive if proactive measures are undertaken to reduce student from panicking and if they are announced in advance. Besides the critics based on unannounced active shooter drills, studies also talk about ALICE drills. The ALICE drill, which stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter, and evacuate, carries out actual imitation of shooter scenarios with intruders who pretend to be the shooters as they fire rubber bullets. Many psychologists have come to dislike this act, saying that young children have a hard time distinguishing the difference between real and not real, especially when they are under a lot of pressure (Zullig, 465). Therefore, leading to many young students to suffer from fear and anxiety.
For the schools that wish to continue with active shooter drills, there are important steps that experts have found to be quite helpful in protecting the student’s psychological and emotional well-being. Before the start of a drill, both students and teachers should be alert. Schools should apply trauma-informed methods. Also, parents should be informed about drill before it is conducted. On the other hand, drills should not be depicting real shootings that happened. The drills should be age-appropriate and involve the school officials, especially psychologists and other mental health personnel. Lastly, the schools should collect and keep track of data on the active shooter drills’ effectiveness.
Active shooter drills should not be the only way to address the issue of school shootings. Schools need to find other means that are quite effective. Those schools that are willing to continue with these drills must find an efficient safety plan to prevent school shooting scenarios from occurring. The measures include working hand in hand with the local law enforcement agency, threat assessment programs, and working with the community and government to ensure that the guns are not easily acquired (Waselewski et al., 513). And hopefully, in the near future, research will provide better practices for active shooter drills that will increase student safety and eliminate trauma risks.
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