Active Shooter Drills: Beneficial or detrimental to students?

Active Shooter Drills: Beneficial or detrimental to students?

Allison Moddelmog, Reporter

According to Sandy Hook, there have been 1,369 school shootings in the US since 1970. The first significant massacre in the country took place at  Columbine High School, which resulted in 15 deaths and 21 injuries. Sandy Hook Elementary was another tragedy which resulted in 28 deaths. In 2018, there was another attack at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida which resulted in 17 deaths and 17 injuries. The most recent significant school shooting in America took place this past November at Oxford High School in Michigan where 4 people died and 7 people were injured. 

In a study conducted by the Secret Service and the Department of Education in 2000, it was found that 93% of school shooters had planned the attack in advance. It was also found that in 4 out of 5 school shootings, at least one other person had known about the attacker’s plan but failed to report it. 

According to the Center for Violence Protection, the best way to prevent school shootings is to build a supportive school environment that makes kids feel safe when needing to talk to their peers and staff at school. This can help with kids’ mental health and attitudes, and it can help kids to talk about their emotions instead of taking it out through other dangerous methods. 

Our school is doing something similar to this. Since the beginning of the 21-22 school year, all grades 7-12 have started a new class called Advisory. This helps us to be able to talk about our feelings and may help prevent devastating things like that from occurring at our school. 

Another thing that our school is doing to try to keep us safe is practicing lockdown drills which prepare us for circumstances that we may be put into later on. Each classroom has its own spot that the students are supposed to sit in to keep them away from doors and windows.

When someone goes over the intercom and says that we are officially in lockdown, it can be rattling for students who were not expecting it to happen. Usually, the rooms are filled with heavy breathing and nervous whispering. When we are in a lockdown, no one knows what is happening or why we have been placed in it. Is there a snake loose in the building, or is there a shooter lurking in the halls? This can be scary for everyone, especially the elementary students who are confused as to why we have to stay quiet and hide. 

The drills help us to prepare for a situation where we might have something like that happen, but is it more damaging to our mental health to have drills than to not have them? Does it make students more scared to go to school the next day after having a scary drill like that? 

According to Everytown Research, active shooter drills are implemented in over 95% of American schools. There was a study taken in 2020 by Everytown Research and Georgia Tech University where students’ social media accounts of 114 K-12 schools were recorded 90 days before an active shooter drill and 90 days after. The results showed increases in depression by 39%, increases in stress and anxiety by 42%, and increases in physiological health problems by 23% after the drill. This goes to show that active shooter drills can be rattling for students and can leave a long-lasting impact on their mental health. It makes kids wonder when it is going to happen instead of if it’s going to happen. 

Overall, school shootings and active shooter drills are a scary thing, and it is something that needs to be talked about more. We need to bring awareness to what can happen and to help prevent it from happening. Especially since our school is grades K-12, it needs to be a big topic among students and faculty at our school.