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Due to the spike in school shootings over the last few years, people are becoming more concerned with the safety of students, teachers, and other individual’s on school campuses. Many schools have started taking cautionary measures by preparing students and teachers with the knowledge on how to remain safe in these incidents. In fact, more than 70% of schools conduct active shooter drills. However, there has not been a consensus on how to most effectively perform these drills, and some schools may be taking them a little too far.

In some cases, schools announce the drills, but sometimes they do not. Dr. David Schonfeld, Director of National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement at University of Southern California, explains that even if the drill is announced it can still be a stressful experience for students or teachers with traumatic past experiences. And, in realistic drills in which students and teachers are not aware, Dr. Schonfeld states that it can cause post-traumatic reaction, and even post-traumatic stress disorder. Active shooter education and drills are important for students and teachers to experience, but they must be taught at a speed that the students can handle and in a supportive environment.

How can schools be more effective in their execution of lockdown drills? Dr. Schonfeld discourages schools from using deception in their drills. He suggests that the most beneficial way to inform students and teachers is to begin with education courses on what to do in the event of a lockdown. Then, he believes that it is helpful to conduct a tabletop activity in which an adult talks about how they would deal with the situation, and help the students to make a plan, before eventually acting out the plan. Through these activities, students are able to acquire the knowledge they need to remain safe in these situations without having to endure a potentially traumatic experience.


  • Dr. David Schonfeld, Director of National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement at University of Southern California

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