Are Active Shooter Drills Traumatic for School Students?

November 11, 2019

Nearly all U.S. schools have conducted some type of "active shooter" drill since 2016, but experts say that the drills themselves can be psychologically traumatic for students.

Experts take issue with the type of drill that features someone dressed as a shooter, firing off blanks inside the school. These intense drills can carry such a sensory experience that it can lead to "a significant psychological reaction in students." Experts aren't pleased that some companies in the U.S. use fear to convince administrators to let them conduct the drills for a fee.

Experts say the best way to prepare kids for an active shooter is to use lockdown drills where kids get behind a locked door and out of sight, talking to the kids about the procedure and practicing it calmly.

Melissa Reeves, the former president of the National Association of School Psychologists makes a pretty good analogy with drills, saying "We don't start a fire in the hallway during fire drills. When teaching "stranger danger" we don't put a child on a street corner and have someone grab them and scare them."

Photo: Getty Images

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