In a new report in conjunction with the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and National Educators Association (NEA) unions have recommended that all schools stop active shooter drills for students and teachers.

When I first read this headline I asked myself why in the world would they not want these students, teachers, schools and police departments prepared?

Well according to the report the reason they give is:

Given growing concern among parents, students, educators and medical professionals about the impact that active shooter drills can have on student development, Everytown, AFT, and NEA do not recommend these drills for students and believe schools should carefully consider these impacts before conducting live drills that involve students and educators

These drills could have a negative impact on student development?  I am going to go out on a limb here and say so could an active mentally ill shooter entering their school and they start running around not knowing what to do.  When I say that I do not mean just the students, teacher and administrators I also mean the police.  The police would need to know where and how to enter among other details.

Melissa Reeves, the former president of the National Association of School Psychologists stated in the report:

What these drills can really do is potentially trigger either past trauma or trigger such a significant physiological reaction that it actually ends up scaring the individuals instead of better preparing them to respond in these kinds of situations

  1. If the schools do insist on triggering “such a significant physiological reaction” on their students the report suggest they should conduct the traumatic active shooter exercises following these rules:1. Drills should not include simulations that mimic an actual incident
    2. Parents should have advance notice of drills
    3. Drills should be announced to students and educators prior to the start
    4. Schools should create age and developmentally appropriate drill content with the involvement of school personnel, including school-based mental health professionals
    5. Schools should couple drills with trauma-informed approaches to address students’ well-being
    6. Track data about the efficacy and effects of drills.

According to the report drills or exercises that prepare students for an “intruder" and teach best practices to minimize fear can help students respond to a threat without creating too much anxiety for the student.  That said the AFT and NEA unions still do not recommend these drills or exercises.  They believe schools should focus their time and energy on school safety plans and early intervention to preempt violent behaviors.

Generally, you would practice safety plans so what would these plans include?  Also what if the active shooter is not from your school how would “early intervention to preempt violent behaviors” help.

What is next; calling for the end of tornado drills since they would also cause anxiety?

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