Schools' Active Shooter Drills Face Criticism For Causing 'Trauma And Fear'

Friday, February 14th 2020, 6:09 am
By: CBS News

Two years after a gunman killed 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, active shooter drills at public schools around the country are being criticized for being too intense, and doing more harm than good for students.  Several education organizations released a report this week calling for an end to drills that surprise students and use real firearms and stage actors to play victims and shooters.

President of the National Education Association Lilly Eskelsen Garcia said that realistic drills "that can frighten, terrorize, traumatize the big people and the little people in that school" are not helpful.

"No one should ever support doing something just because you feel like, 'Well we have to do something so let's do this'," she said. "What you're doing can actually cause trauma and fear for those children."

The NEA wants to end drills where weapons are drawn and actors sometimes use fake blood to portray victims, and said students and parents should be notified ahead of time.

New Jersey high school freshman Charlize and her mother Beth Kepler disagree, arguing that unannounced drills are "necessary."

Monmouth County Academy of Allied Health and Science High School, where Charlize attends, conducts unannounced shooter drills at least twice a year. Charlize shrugged off the fear that the drills are causing traumatic effects, at least for herself.

"My generation has grown up with these kind of active shooter drills. I think that we don't see it as something that's so terrifying as some of the older generations, because it's just kind of how we've grown up and lived," she told CBS News' Vladimir Duthiers.

When asked if she as a parent would like advanced notice, Beth Kepler said she would not.

"I feel that in that moment they should be thinking it and treating it as if it were real, like a fire drill is treated like it's real, because it's going to save your life," she said.

Kepler explained that she felt "sad that they are necessary," but it made her feel comfortable as a parent "that there's something being done and a tool being given to the children who are sitting there vulnerable to feel like they can do something to empower themselves, to protect themselves."

They agreed, however, with teachers unions' call for school-based mental health assistance.

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