New report asks schools to reconsider active shooter drills

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UNITED STATES (WSYR-TV) — An alarming report came out this week from two of the largest labor and teachers unions in America. The National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers Working with Everytown for Gun Safety, an organization researching gun violence in our country, to see if active shooter drills are effective. 

These organizations say they do support trauma-informed training for schools, but they do not recommend active shooter drills, saying schools should carefully consider the impacts of the training before conducting live drills involving students and educators. 

But for those districts that will continue on doing those drills, the report has a list of recommendations based on research. It says drills should not include simulations mimicking a scenario happening in real life. There should be an advanced notification before the drills going out to parents, students, and educators. It says schools should have age and developmentally appropriate drill content involving the school’s personnel and mental health professionals. It also says schools should couple that training with trauma-informed approaches. Finally, schools should collect data and see if the drills are effective.  

NewsChannel 9 asked a local researcher who focuses on mass shootings about this topic before, and while she agrees those realistic scenarios can be traumatizing, she does believe in lockdown drills, using something called standard response protocol. 

“That’s what we’ve been able to do using SRP training, is to show you can conduct them in a healthy and productive and learning manner,” said Dr. Jaclyn Schildkraut.

Now the president of NEA said in a statement, “Traumatizing students as we work to keep students safe from gun violence is not the answer. Everywhere I travel, I hear from parents and educators about active shooter drills terrifying students, leaving them unable to concentrate in the classroom and unable to sleep at night.”

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