Are Active Shooter Drills in Schools Doing More Harm Than Good?

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Active shooter drills have become commonplace in schools across the country, but some fear they are too realistic.

In one drill, students were asked to roleplay dying victims. In another drill, they used a pretend car bomb. 

A dramatization of a shooter in a school library was produced by the Los Angeles County Sherriff's Office as a tool to be used in schools and workplaces. But now the nation's two largest teachers’ unions are calling for drills to be toned down for the sake of both kids and teachers.  

The American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association teamed up with Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund to call for an end to unannounced drills or gun violence simulation drills.

In a joint statement they said active shooter drills can “trigger such a significant physiological reaction that it actually ends up scaring the individuals instead of better preparing them.”

“Everywhere I travel, I hear from parents and educators about active shooter drills terrifying students, leaving them unable to concentrate in the classroom and unable to sleep at night,” said Lily Eskelsen Garcia, President of the National Education Association. “So traumatizing students as we work to keep students safe from gun violence is not the answer. That is why if schools are going to do drills, they need to take steps to ensure the drills do more good than harm.”

Supporters of such drills say they are necessary because everyone needs to prepare for school shootings they hope will never happen.  

But educational psychologist Michele Borba told Inside Edition the problem is the realistic nature of the drills most often in place. 

"When we have a fire drill, we have the drill, but we don’t recreate the fire in the hallway to make it look like we are really prepared," she said. "They are far too realistic; we are already dealing with far too stressed out kids. SWAT Teams are coming in with pellet guns and shooting teachers in front of kids just so they see, ‘this is what it is going to look like, kids.’ What is most traumatizing is asking little kids that in case there is an attacker, grab a scissor and try and get him, which is absolutely fruitless for a child."

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