Active Shooter Drills in Preschool: The New Normal

Playing Pre-schoolers Across U.S. Learn Reading, Writing and Active Shooter Training

Every month, at Arizona's Casa de Ninos, teachers go through active shooter drills after the students go home.

But this is a preschool, filled with bustling toddlers and pint-sized students as young as 1. 

Welcome to the new normal, where kids too young for elementary school must learn how to hide from someone trying to kill them with a gun.

Since 1999, 16 percent of school shootings took place where there are preschoolers and kindergarteners.

Instructor Jessica Alcantara tries to wrap her head around the idea, but she has no frame of reference for it.

"Back in the days when I grew (and) I was in school, that's the safest place ever." With nearly 20 school shootings this year alone, Alcantara says, "it's like ... am I really safe in school?"

That is why there are so many drills at this Yuma school.

Alcantara has three children, but she also sees her young charges as part of her family. Preschool owner Sabrina Seale says every adult feels very protective about the children in their care.

"We wear so many hats," she told CBS News. "We're teachers, nurses, mom." And now, providers of school security.

Older students have practice drills in which the assailant waves a fake gun while pulling the trigger. They are taught how to barricade doors, pull curtains, and turn out the lights. 

For the preschoolers, the attacker is called "a stranger" and there are no guns. The kids are told it's a game.

The lights are turned off and the children are told to run and hide.

As the little ones duck behind tiny chairs and low tables, the adults encourage them to be quiet. "Ssh," they whisper, a finger before their lips. "We're going to be safe," says one teacher. "Let's keep quiet."

After the drill is over, the adults congratulate the kids with rounds of high-five hand slaps. 

A little girl is asked why she had to stay so quiet.

"Because a stranger might take me," she replied.

"A stranger might take you?"

"Yes," she answered, as if it was the most reasonable explanation in the world. 

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