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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

States limit ‘active shooter’ drills

“Active shooter drills” terrify students, but do they make them any safer? Photo: Education Week

When schools do fire drills, they don’t set off smoke bombs.

The fad for “active shooter drills” with simulated gunfire has produced pushback, writes Evie Blad in Education Week. Some states are limiting lockdown drills to avoid traumatizing children.

“You can prepare your kids for a house fire by telling them where to meet and how to climb out of their windows,” Washington state Rep. Amy Walen, a Democrat, said in a January committee meeting. “But you don’t have to burn the house down to show them how to escape a house fire safely.”

A new Washington law bans “live simulations of or reenactments of active shooter scenarios that are not trauma-informed and age and developmentally appropriate.”

New Jersey also requires school drills to be age-appropriate, and it prohibits role-playing “the use of fake blood, real or prop firearms, or the simulations of gunshots, explosions, or other sounds or visuals that may induce panic or a traumatic response from a student or school district employee,” reports Blad.

Some safety experts oppose teaching students to barricade their classrooms and fight back by throwing things at intruders, she writes.

I think it’s psychologically healthier for students to imagine themselves doing something other than hiding.

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