School shootings are some of the scariest things to think about for youth in schools. School lockdown drills can help alleviate fears. But some go too far. Some schools have allowed “realistic” drills to take place. These include staff members with air-soft guns shooting at students and teachers. Some incorporate fake wounds painted on by top-quality makeup artists. In some schools, these drills happen unannounced. Some students suffer panic attacks during these drills. They are simply too much. And school psychologists agree.
From an NPR interview, Melissa Reeves, a school psychologist, states, “Well, what you're doing is you are creating a sensorial experience, which really heightens all of our senses. And 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. And there's actually examples of where these drills have been done very irresponsibly and they have traumatized individuals or have actually led to bodily harm.” In short, she says that these realistic drills can both trigger students’ fear and not help them learn, or hurt a student if they are reckless. Another point made says that you don’t light a fire in a hallway during a fire drill. You don’t get a person to grab your kid while teaching them about stranger danger. So why would something like this need to be done?
Information from Fox 8 News also says that the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, two major teacher’s unions, say that these sorts of drills need to be stopped. Kara Wernar, child psychologist, says, “These drills, what we’re seeing is it inhibits the child’s ability to learn, to feel safe, and it affects physical and mental health.” In fact, during the writing of this article, I felt worried when looking back at the lockdowns from 2019. Having to sit at the wall for hours. Putting kids in the same situation will be scary for them, no matter if it is or not a drill.
Realistic lockdown drills can take a huge mental toll out of students. Being stressed that the place you thought was safe for years could be shot up can make it very hard to concentrate. Melissa Reeves, Kara Wernar, and two major teacher unions cannot be wrong. These realistic drills actively harm student’s wellbeing. These drills need to be stopped. If you are in a school that uses this type of drill, tell them to stop. They are helping nobody.
Story by Nash Klein