Active Shooter Safety Drills and US Students—Should We Take a Step Back?

Joseph A. Simonetti, MD, MPH, Division of Hospital Medicine, University of Colorado Anschutz School of Medicine, Aurora

JAMA Pediatr. Published online August 31, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.2592 FullText

Last spring, as I was wrapping up my day on the medical wards, I noticed the email from my son’s daycare differed from the typical communication that includes a playground picture and a reminder to bring more diapers. At the recommendation of the Colorado Department of Public Safety, he was experiencing his first lockdown drill in response to a firearm threat in the community. He was just under 2 years of age.

This daycare was 1 of thousands of US schools that are now routinely engaging in such drills, many of which are mandated at the district or state level and subsidized by state or federal grants. The National Center for Education Statistics estimates that 92% of public schools have written plans for the event of an active shooter, and 95% performed lockdown drills during the 2015 to 2016 academic year.1 This was partially driven by a multibillion-dollar cottage industry that seeks to prepare schools, businesses, and places of worship using active shooter scenarios.

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About S. R. Zelenz 119 Articles
S.R. Zelenz has worked in education for 20 years. Working with students from all walks of life, cultures, races, and social diversity, Zelenz’s research in Educational Leadership led to finding a better way to approach learning for students with trauma histories. Many were juvenile offenders, gang members, diagnosed with varying behavioral disorders, or had family histories of violence, murder, or narcissistic parenting. This research could not be effectively accomplished without further understanding: how epigenetic trauma inheritance may be impacting these students; how brain development from trauma may be impacting their behavioral and emotional development; as well as deep understanding of psychology and its varying classifications for behavioral and personality disorders. The goal is to find solutions for changing the conversation and making a real difference for these students. She has also worked with nonprofits of varying focus areas for the last 25 years. Her undergraduate degree in Arts Administration and Music prepared her for managing nonprofits of any size as well as procuring funding so that they can achieve their goals. Pairing her nonprofit background with her education background, she has been able to make a difference for over 200 nonprofits worldwide, written curriculum for schools across the globe, and assisted many arts organizations through performance and management.