This Video Of An Active Shooter Drill At A Preschool Highlights The Fear-Based Realities Of America’s Children
Active shooter drills at schools are the new normal for today’s youngest generation.
Yesterday, reports of teachers at an Indiana school being mock executed with pellet guns during a school-shooter drill sparked dismay when details of the event came out. During a drill, teachers were lined up and shot execution-style with airsoft rifles and told: “This is what happens if you just cower and do nothing.” The incident has sparked debate concerning the necessity of these drills that have become a grim routine in class schedules.
At Casa De Niños in Yuma, Arizona, teachers have had to consider the effects of mandatory active shooter drills on their preschoolers.
A year after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shootings, which took place last February, schools have ramped up their efforts to train students on how to defend themselves against gunmen. Police officers, sometimes even teachers, play the role of a shooter banging on classroom windows and shooting at teachers or students while children are prompted to apply previous lessons on such events. They barricade doors, dodge fake bullets by running in zigzagged lines, and use “self-defense tools” like lunchboxes and backpacks.
The preschool, which includes children as young as one year old, requires its educators to take part in training once a month.
Last year, CBS profiled the preschool’s active shooter drill practices shedding light onto the harrowing lessons our nation’s students are being faced with.
Footage from the report shows teachers as they defend themselves and students from a pseudo-active shooter.
The video shows two drills. The first sees the teachers as they barricade classrooms, and instruct other teachers (standing in the place of their students) to “get down” and hide from windows and doors. At one point a shooter walks through and shoots at students with a gun that charges off a realistic gunshot and smoke. The last drill shows the students. Preschool-aged children shove tables and chairs in front of doorways and draw curtains close. During this segment of training, they are taught that the gunman is called a “stranger” and that they are taking part in a game. The lights are turned off, and much like a game of hide-and-seek, they are told to stay quiet and keep out of sight.
While many of the kids appear amused by the presence of the camera at the mark of the filmed drill, some of their sly smiles quickly fade to alarm as the drill takes place.
In the CBS report, Jessica Alcantara, a teacher at Casa De Niños, attempted to make sense of the need for active shooter drills. “Back in the days when I grew (and) I was in school, that’s the safest place ever. It’s like am I really safe in school?”
According to the CBS report, since 1999 sixteen percent of school shootings took place at institutions where preschoolers and or kindergarteners were present.
In 1999, soon after the Columbine massacre, the practice of active shooter drills began to crop up at schools around the country. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that during the 2015-2016 school year, more than 90 percent of public schools across the country took part in lockdown drills. According to the CBS report, two-thirds of public schools implement the drills.
The effectiveness of active-shooter drills can’t totally be measured, but studies have begun to reveal that they do have downsides.
In fact, the month before the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, the school had taken part in an active-shooter drill. Reports suggest that shooter was able to use the drills to his advantage when he carried out his attack.
Moreover, there’s the matter of time and resources. At Casa De Niños, the school spends one thousand dollars a month on training– that’s a budget that could otherwise be spent on upgrades to school facilities such as textbooks, science and art programs, and hot lunch programs for low-income students.
Downsides also include childhood trauma.
Decades ago, millions of schoolchildren in the 1950s were subject to civil defense drills like “duck and cover.” The drills required students to crouch under their desks in preparation for potential nuclear attacks. According to Timeline, teachers at the time reported an uptick in the depiction of mushroom clouds and death in their students artwork and research studies revealed that at the close of the 1950s, 60 percent of U.S. children reported having nightmares related to nuclear war.
The schoolchildren of today’s school shooter generation are subjected to similar fear-based realities.
In 2018, a Pew Research survey revealed that 57 percent of U.S. high school-aged students live in fear of a shooting taking place at their school. This information coincides with the National Institute of Mental Health study that reported 32 percent of 13-to-18-year-olds live with anxiety disorders with the median age of origin being age six.
Videos like the one of the students at Casa de Niños beg the question of what harm active shooter drills can cause younger generations. Yes, their intended efforts may keep children safe, but very well could be harming their childhood.