Updated: Oct 25, 2021
As you know, safety is our top priority when conducting active shooter preparedness drills for the early childhood community. We have never simulated gunfire or performed unannounced drills, but many other organizations have, which has led to a recent series of negative headlines in the news.
Two large teacher unions have teamed up to condemn active shooter drills that cause trauma to teachers and students; these types of drills involve masked intruders, gunfire, realistic violence, and may even be unannounced. These organizations are correct in their condemnation and we stand with them to clearly say - this should not be happening. Instead, these important educational sessions should leave individuals trained, not traumatized.
Our training sessions are conducted in a calm, safe, and comfortable environment, where participants focus on critical thinking skills and feel empowered to engage in discussions. The training sessions focus on creating a culture of safety - one in which we can make our early childhood programs more secure. This is important, as many ‘active shooter’ programs only focus on what to do when the intruder has entered the building. If your plan begins with the intruder entering the building, then you are already behind the curve - and missed one of the most important pieces - prevention.
Our initial training sessions focus on adults, as it is vital to ensure all of the adults are on the same page before we ever think about including children. We spend time discussing and exploring ways to convey these important messages to children - in an age-appropriate way. We believe that childhood is one of the most magical times in life and we must protect children without needlessly exposing them to trauma, violence, or shattering their youthful perspectives of the world. Simply put, children should be allowed to be children.
This opinion is not something new for us. We have long held these beliefs. Part of the reason we created our active shooter preparedness program was that we were concerned by the tactics and techniques of other ‘teaching’ organizations. Our instructors have real-world first responder experience and have taught at various first-responder training sessions and academies. They have witnessed the overzealous instructors who find it necessary to simulate violent scenarios all to prove a point. I think you and I can agree - no one needs to be shot by an airsoft gun or by a round of simulated ammunition to understand the seriousness of the subject matter.
We have conducted training across the country - 20 states and counting - and have heard many horror stories that simply can’t be ignored or excused. Two that stick out:
A father in Kansas that told us about his 3rd-grade son being traumatized as he was locked into a closet for 45 minutes and told to keep quiet - without any other explanation.
A mother in Minnesota who shared the story of how her daughter’s teacher took an active shooter training class on Monday and then on Tuesday decided to conduct her own ‘drill’. In permanent marker the teacher wrote the names, birthdays and parents’ phone numbers on the arms of her students - that way if they were shot, police could identify the bodies.
We feel that some training programs push unrealistic and traumatic scenarios. Our training exists to provide a safe alternative to those aggressive policies. During our training, we have received positive feedback from participants about the calm manner in which our courses are conducted. Participants stated: