Picturing your children at school huddled against a wall with their peers trying to be completely quiet is a dreadful vision for all parents – even if this is just a drill. Active shooter (or lockdown) drills are becoming more commonplace in schools as school shootings have garnered more attention in recent years. Even though schools are still the safest place for children.
A recent Washington Post analysis found that over 4.1 million students endured at least one lockdown drill in the 2017-2018 school year and The Atlantic states that 95 percent of schools conducted drills the year before. Fire drills are commonplace and are mandated in Pennsylvania, as are school bus emergency evacuation drills. Students have done them so often, they don’t think twice about them. But, with new legislation on the table in Pa. (HB No. 124), schools may be required to conduct other safety drills, including lockdowns. It is important that parents be aware of and understand the drills so they can talk to their children and help them through potential fear. The better prepared your child is, the less likely these drills will have a negative impact.
First, communicate with your child’s school to ensure you are informed about when drills will occur and how they will be conducted. Lockdown drills never need to include real sounds of gunfire, fake blood, or any scenes that could potentially traumatize a child. If you have concerns or want to provide input, volunteer to sit on a parent advisory committee. If there isn’t one at your child’s school, volunteer to start one.
How can parents help their kids?
Remind your child (and yourself!) that schools are safe. With the attention school violence receives, it does not always feel that way.