When we were growing up, every once in a while we had school fire drills and even ones that happened as a precautionary measure on the school bus a couple of times a year. Now, active shooter drills are our reality. As scary as that can sound, it is just that - our reality - and children need to be prepared in case a situation like this would arise in schools. But, the recent announcement that a school is using blanks to simulate actual gunfire during these drill has a lot of parents outraged and wondering how far is too far when it comes to these preparations.
It's incredibly terrifying for a parent to think about your child at school, learning how to deal with an active shooter as a pretend bad guy roams the halls carrying a gun, which is why so many parents of Bethel Park High School in Pennsylvania are outraged that the school has made this decision.
First, this isn't the first school to ever use these methods, even though it might be the first time it has surfaced in the news. According to the official website for the A.L.I.C.E. method, which is what this is called, it's used in 4,200 K-12 school districts across the country, as well as in many businesses, health care facilities, and police departments. The acronym stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter, and evacuate and is based on the belief that being able to recognize the actual sound of gunfire will better prepare kids for a real-life situation. During these drills, it is police who are firing the fake bullets.
According to WPXI, before the drill happened, parents received a letter home outlining what would be happening. “The faculty and staff have been apprised of the situation and over the next few days the students will be shown a PowerPoint in homeroom, providing them with the needed information.” The drill was planned for September 13th,
As you can imagine, there was a great deal of backlash from many parents, saying things on social media suggesting that parents keep their kids home from school that day, how upset they were, and even insinuating that the school was instilling PTSD on the children.
However, there was also another school of thought highlight how the actual sounds of gunfire can be difficult to distinguish, especially if a child has never been exposed to it. So a drill like this could end up saving lives.
After it was over, many parents did share that their kids were unfazed by the situation as a whole. Nicki Sink, whose daughter is a junior at Bethel Park, told WPXI, "Why not give them the tools to be ready for it instead of being worried about a traumatic experience of what could be a traumatic experience?"