Have we lost our minds?!
There are 98,817 public schools in the United States as of the beginning of 2017. Fifty million children attend these schools for at least 180 days a year. That means there are nine billion times a year children are on a school campus. Since 1999, there have been 31 shootings in our public schools and that includes the Columbine event in 1999. I fully agree that 31 is 31 too many. But if you look at the numbers, a public school is still one of the safest places for our kids to be and that is how it should be. They are in greater danger crossing a street or driving in a car, not to mention some urban areas.
But apparently, some alarmists are thinking we need to take some serious precautions. In schools across our country, kids are being put through “shooter drills”. Akron public schools are getting very serious. They are implementing a plan called ALICE- Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate. Most preparations have taught kids to quietly shelter in place for any intrusion. But the ALICE plan recommends turning kids into counter terrorists. They are taught to run in a zig-zag pattern, throw objects, and scream to make it difficult for the gunman to focus and aim. They are taught to make their classroom “like a fort” and to climb out of windows if instructed to by their teacher. One principal in Florida has suggested children keep a couple of cans of foodstuff in their desks in case of an armed intruder so they can hurl them as missiles against the attacker. I do not make this stuff up! The U.S. Department of Education on behalf of a group of federal agencies has said that there is no evidence this response is effective. But rationality has never stopped us before. Parents and school administrators supporting this plan say they would rather be safe than sorry.
The question is: But at what cost?
Many of our kids have anxiety issues brought on by situations at home, bullies at school, and experiences in their neighborhoods. Schools have elaborate plans to counteract bullies in the school and schoolyard. We know that scared children don’t learn. School is supposed to be a place where kids can feel safe. Advocates for this training say that few schools have fires yet we still have fire drills. That is true, but other than the loud noise there is nothing scary about a fire drill. The training that supposedly teaches children to disrupt a school intrusion is very scary. In the 50’s school children were taught to go into the school hallway or under school desks in preparation for a nuclear attack that thankfully never came. It is doubtful the school desk would have been much protection anyway. Now we are throwing canned vegetables at armed intruders.
So why are we doing this to our kids. We are scaring them to death, making them fearful in their schools and for what reward. Perhaps adults are doing this to make themselves feel better. Almost all of these attacks appear random. What can we do to prevent what appears to be a random act. Adults feel they have little control to protect our kids. We do not like that feeling. So we have come up with this plan to make us feel like we do have some control over the outcomes of the random act.
A person that shoots up a school is certainly not in his right mind. It doesn’t help the situation for people in authority to lose their minds in response.