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Stop active shooter drills, Teachers unions

The two largest teachers’ unions in the U.S. have called for the end to unannounced active shooting drills and drills that simulate gun violence. The American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association released a joint report with the advocacy group every town for Gun Safety Support Fund that concluded the drills can harm students’ mental health and should be revised significantly or eliminated entirely.

The groups also said there are better ways to prepare for the possibility of a school shooting than drills. Everywhere I travel, I hear from parents and educators about active shooter drills terrifying students, leaving them unable to concentrate in the classroom and unable to sleep at night, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association stated.

So traumatizing students as we work to keep students safe from gun violence is not the answer. That is why if schools are going to do drills, they need to take steps to ensure the drills do better than harm. The suggested revisions to the practice including giving parents, educators and students advance notice and refraining from simulating actual violence due to the trauma such drills can cause.

In Indiana they were shooting teachers with rubber pellets so they would feel the adrenaline of what a school shooting would feel like, Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, which is part of every town. In California recently, a superintendent hired a stranger to wear a mask to rattle the doors of classrooms without letting faculty and students know. We’ve seen students asked to pretend to be victims and lie down using fake blood in the hallway.

Abby Clements, teaching second grade at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., when a gunman killed 26 people in 2012, said she doesn’t believe a drill would have saved lives there. Our students knew what to do, who now teaches at another elementary school in Newtown. We taught them what to do in an emergency. We knew evacuation routes and where a safe spot was in the room, where nobody could see inside. But frightening students with some type of active drill, I think that is barbaric. There is no way you could possibly be prepared for the infinite number of ways that a shooting could go down with these weapons of war.

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