For many young American kids, a return to school after the long summer break will involve participation in stimulated shooting drills that might see the use of fake bullets and fake blood being used in the school corridors. Whether by legislative directive or voluntarily, innumerable schools have made these simulations a part of the school routine with the hope that the teaching staff and students will be fully prepared in case of a shootout in school by a crazy stranger or a depressed student.
Started as a result of the Columbine massacre in 1999, active shooting simulations have become more prevalent following the 2012 shooting incident at the Sandy Hook school. Even though the intention behind such drills is well meant, such simulations in reality could do no good but might do more harm. It remains to be seen whether students end up being fully prepared by taking part in such simulations but one cannot ignore the negative aspect of such drills, which are leaving many young children in perpetual fear as well as reinforce the idea that they are not safe.
While emergency drills such as fire drills or simulations related to natural disasters are everyday routines that do not cause much fear and terror, shooting drills are more violent by nature. It is because of this violent quality that such drills tend to be more traumatizing to kids, and the psychological harm associated with such simulations is more probable than the occurrence of a shooting spree in real life. According to available data and statistics, parents should be least worried about school shootings because the estimated number of young kids related to shooting incidents is an average of twenty-four per annum, which is much less in comparison to the hundreds who gets kill in bicycle and drowning accidents.
With regards to children’s safety, the focus of the parents should be on other forms of safety training rather than making young children go through scary shooting drills in school that involve the scenarios of being chased by a gun wielding individual pretending to be a bad person or having the entire school in lockdown during a search by the SWAT team. Although it is important to prepare staff and teachers for violent incidents, it should not entail compromising the innocence of young children.
At the same time, students fail to remember what they have learned and end up only remembering the fear that arises from such an episode. By stressing too much on such drills, the risk of escalating the anxiety and fears of youngsters could increase. Along with over-preparation, obsession over the occurrence of such rare but scary episodes would only lead to copycat situations.
The best strategy is therefore to prepare the teaching staff instead of the students. Students can be equipped with simple instructions on how to escape the scene of a shooting. Even if schools are required by the law of their respective states to conduct shooting drills, as far as possible, the concerned authorities should make them as unrealistic and unassuming in nature as they can.