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Teacher groups come out against active shooter drills in new report

The Houston Federation of Teachers agrees that some drills could end up traumatizing students.

HOUSTON, Texas — Reading and writing aren’t the only things kids are learning in 2020.

Texas law also requires at least one lockdown drill every semester.

It's a measure in response to the looming threat, no matter how small, of an active shooter on campus.

"You know, sometimes, less is more,” said Houston Federation of Teachers President Zeph Capo.

In a joint report with Everytown For Gun Safety Support Fund, the American Federation of Teachers and National Educators Association just recently recommended against active shooter drills for students.

They encouraged comprehensive school safety plans instead.

Capo believes some schools have gone overboard with the type of drills they conduct because they could traumatize students during the process.

"Where you have people simulating being shot and what have you," Capo said. "I think that is maybe not in line and developmentally appropriate for a lot of our kids.”

One recent drill in another state used blanks fired from a gun to simulate an active shooter.

"It’s better to be safe than sorry," Houston parent Luisa Harry said. "But I don’t know if that’s the way to do that.”

Parents and grandparents said they believe drills are an unfortunate necessity these days. However, they should be tailored to specific age ranges.

“I think that children need to know what to do in an emergency,”Houston grandparent Kathy Comiskey said.

It's the unintended harm Capo said he's worried about.

"And, sometimes, we really need to take a step back and rethink how we’re doing it,” Capo said.

Read the full report here.

ALICE Training Institute, which does active shooter drills across the nation, sent us this statement:

We believe drills are important because if faced with an active shooter situation, every second matters. According to a recent study conducted by The U.S. Secret Service, most school shootings last for two minutes or less, and nearly half of the events studied ended within one minute. That means it is up to us to keep ourselves safe for those seconds that will feel as slow as a lifetime. We drill so everyone has a plan when faced with danger, to give people a chance at survival.

An active shooter response drill is only effective if it is conducted in a safe and appropriate way. Advance notice and clear communication is critical. Under no circumstances should there be masks or surprise drills. Catering drills to the age and cognitive level of those being trained is also a necessity. ALICE’s ‘train the trainer’ program is specifically tailored to meet these conditions.

ALICE Training Institute strongly agrees with five of the six recommendations outlined in the recently published report from Everytown for Gun Safety. ALICE is extremely supportive of giving parents and students advance notice, tracking with data, considering the holistic person, and ensuring every drill is catered to the individuals age and ability. However, we believe that, when done appropriately, drills that simulate an event and allow students to practice their options, whether that be lockdown or evacuation, are the most effective to keep children safe. These issues are ever evolving, and we applaud Everytown and its partners for issuing this important research.

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