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Active shooter training: are there any unintended consequences?


(NewsNation) – We’ve seen the exercises, the staged simulations and the actual fear. The overwhelming majority of states now require shooting drills in schools, most in an effort to try to better equip students, teachers and staff in case the unthinkable happens.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, National Education Association and Sandy Hook Promise have all said protecting classrooms is essential. Still, there’s a real push to make sure all the practice is helpful and not hurtful.

The worry is that all the practice in American schools is having a serious impact on mental health. A Georgia Tech study found that after a school shooting drill, students reported a 39% increase in depression and a 42% increase in stress.

“Whether or not you have a shootout, an actual shootout versus a simulation, you create the same physiological response, serotonin, dopamine, seizure, flight, or fight,” said certified adult and child Dr. Denise McDermott. psychiatrist. “So for me, you actually create a traumatic experience.”

McDermott thinks parents should be aware of exercises.

“There should be a permission slip, do I want my child to participate in this exercise or not?” McDermott said. “So there has to be an awareness. And then the child must be prepared in advance. And if you don’t want your child to have it at school, you have to do it at home.

In recommending that school districts reconsider how they perform these drills, the American Academy of Pediatrics detailed: “A recent live drill in which high school students were tricked into thinking it was an actual event, children sobbed hysterically, vomited or passed out and some children sent farewell notes to their parents.

The organization does not suggest any deception, meaning the administrators pretend the exercise is real, no fake blood or dead bodies, no use of gunshot sounds, and no predatory actors or doors that clap.

But in this day and age when scenes of real school shootings dominate the headlines, there is a strong consensus that the practice of confinement, if practiced safely and healthily, should definitely be on the agenda.

McDermott recommends staying neutral and letting kids set the tone after lockdown drills. She also sometimes gives her child a fun little outing on exercise day to imprint a positive memory by practicing safety measures.