The Boston Globe recently ran a list of the “Top 10 Myths About Mass Shootings” and I agreed with all of them except this one:
Myth: Students need to be prepared for the worst by participating in lockdown drills.
Reality: Lockdown drills can be very traumatizing, especially for young children. Also, it is questionable whether they would recall those lessons amid the hysteria associated with an actual shooting. The faculty and staff need to be adequately trained, and the kids just advised to listen to instructions. Schools should take the same low-key approach to the unlikely event of a shooting as the airlines do to the unlikely event of a crash. Passengers aren’t drilled in evacuation procedures but can assume the crew is sufficiently trained.
Having two kids in public schools that have participated in numerous “lockdown drills,” I’ve never once felt they were traumatized by the experience. Nor have I ever heard a parent whose expressed this opinion.
And yes, the kids do recall the lessons. My son, when he was in the fourth grade, had a substitute teacher on the day of a lockdown drill. The substitute had no idea what to do while the students were shouting at her to lock the door.
More importantly, lockdown drills are not only to prepare for unlikely events like what happened in Newtown. Schools around the country go on lockdown every day for numerous reasons, especially in situations where the police are chasing a criminal near a school. For example:
HIALEAH, Fla. (WSVN) — Authorities have lifted a school lockdown after police captured all four burglary suspects who fled into a neighborhood.
Hialeah Police were forced to lockdown Hialeah Elementary, located at 550 East 8th Street, at around 12 p.m. Friday, due to the police situation in the area. The children were never in danger, and the lockdown was ordered as a safety precaution.
Police had responded to a burglary in progress nearby when the suspects fled.
Police set up a perimeter at East Seven Avenue and Seven Street in Hialeah. When units arrived, officials said, they saw three people flee the area on foot and a female flee in a getaway car. Police captured all four suspects.
If anything, school lockdowns and making it as tough as possible for strangers to get into the school are the best ways to keep kids safe.