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March 03, 2012

Should our kids get crisis training to prevent school violence?

By Leslie Crawford, Senior Editor

Two days after the Ohio high school shooting that left three children dead, a colleague told me her seven-year-old daughter had come home from school and mentioned her class had had a drill; the children were told a fictitious story about a robbery in the neighborhood and that they needed to know how to respond in this kind of scenario. They were told to "stay in place, get low, turn off all the lights and lock the door." 

Because we live in the Bay Area, my colleague was used to hearing about earthquake drills - but this was alarming. The school had never mentioned it and she didn’t know exactly what to tell her daughter. “The thought of all those children hunkering down in a dark classroom with a locked door brought me to tears,” she said. “My initial reaction was the drill was highly inappropriate.”

I was equally confounded. Teaching young elementary schoolers anti-terrorism techniques?  What’s next – bomb dismantling? We all grew up ducking and covering under our particle board desks to protect us from nuclear annihilation. Was crisis-training the thing our children were learning to “protect” them?

I quickly learned how naïve I've been.

Lockdowns. Lockouts. Secure the perimeter. Regulations once meant for prison or a police state are now a familiar part of school in America. In our post-Columbine, 9/11 era, there's a very good chance that your child has been through this sort of training. The State of Illinois requires all schools to do a lockdown drill at least once a year. Seattle schools have what's called "Shelter in place" procedures, much like the drill my workmate's daughter went through.

The Department of Education recommends that every school holds drills that deal with "school shootings, suicides, and major accidents, as well as large-scale disasters, such as the events of September 11…."

As much as I don't want my children to have to deal with these kinds of disasters, there's no way around it, they have to deal with these kinds of disasters. It’s hard to remember that every alarmist safety procedure comes from a real event that, in retrospect, some people hope can be preventable next time.

There’s no better proof of this than I Love U Guys, a foundation created by the parents of Emily Keyes, a 16-year-old girl killed in 2006 at Platte Canyon High in Bailey, Colorado, not far from Columbine High. (The foundation’s name refers to the last text message Emily sent her parents before she died.) Among their accomplishments: promoting the Standard Response Protocol that is spreading nationally; it's showing success in helping school administrators, and students, to be ready should crisis strike. 



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Our school has had the gift of being used for SWAT training here in a suburb of Los Angeles. The children just know the police are there "practicing." A simple announcement comes over the PA, teacher close the blinds, and the exercise commences. The younger kids probably have no idea what's going on.

Given the horrible events that happen seemingly weekly, I'd rather that the police know our very safe public school inside and out and that the teachers and staff know how to handle any situation.

We have lock down drills, also called intruder drills… I'm happy that my kids know how to sit quietly and still secured out of sight from all windows. This IS the world in which we live.

I was just talking to my kids this morning about that. A child brought a weapon to school Friday,thankgod the teacher found it in his school bookbag. My kids school doesn't play games when it comes to students bringing weapons to school. They r on top on safety.

I think all schools are required to have a crisis intervention plan. Even in our small town, we have had our crisis drills, and the kids understand that we do this so we can keep them safe if something should ever happen. We don't go into great detail, or tell them things that have happened at other schools, but we do tell them that we have these drills to keep them safe, just like tornado drills and fire drills. There have actually been a couple of times that there was a reason to have the kids in lockdown, and it was comforting to know that the kids and the staff knew what to do, and there was no confusion. Of course, we could never plan for every possible disaster, but at least we know we have a plan for most situations.

When I started teaching in '67, there was no such thing as school security. Teachers "policed" the bathrooms and school grounds, and doled out discipline.
Times of changed, The population then was less than half what it is today. Population Density and Social Pathology are directly related (see this; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1501789/) ie; the more crowded things are, the more abnormal behavior, violent behavior, aggressive behavior we see. Until we do something to attack the root - the growing population (180,000 more people on the planet every day; see this -http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/). Malthus said it two hundred years ago; as the quantity of life goes up; the quality of life goes down. The sooner we fix this, the sooner our social "ills" will be reduced. We know how to fix this; we just lack the will and discipline.

Crisis training, really? Why not just take the time to raise your kids properly, people...geez.

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