School Nursing

The Relentless School Nurse: Generation Lockdown

Please take a few minutes to watch the video before reading this blog post:

I am asking my school nurse colleagues to share their experiences with active shooter drills. Have you felt the sense of fear that I have? Can you feel the heightened sense of anxiety, even though we know it is a drill? Does your administration alert you that a drill will be happening? How have your students and staff responded? I am curious if there is an uptick of visits to your health office of somatic complaints that are actually linked to anxiety post-active shooter drill.

The biggest issue I have aside from the fear and traumatization of active shooter drills is that there does not seem to be evidence to support that they are effective. We need to look at the impact on our students and staff. Show me the science that active shooter drills work, I have yet to find it. The fact that there has been very little funding for any research when it comes to gun violence prevention has created an environment of reaction versus responding. Why are there resources for security measures and limited funds for proper staffing?

Clearly, our country is in the midst of a gun violence public health crisis. Schools, movie theatres, places of worship, malls, street corners, front porches are all possible targets of gun violence. I understand it is important to be prepared, but active shooter drills are traumatizing to our school communities and invoke fear instead of skills. We must find a better way to train our students and staff in the event of an active shooter in our schools.

The lengths that some of the drills have gone to create the feeling of a real active shooter are outrageous.  One school actually used an app that sounded like gunshots to call the drill over the loudspeaker. There are reports of Indiana teachers being “shot” with blanks execution style. Doors are pounded, screams in hallways reverberate in the classrooms while dozens of students hide in tight spaces, closets, and bathrooms. Is this necessary? We don’t call fire drills by flooding schools with smoke & heat. What is enough and at what point is the drill more traumatizing than the purpose?

“Politicians take a look. This is your child, your children, your grandchildren and your great-grandchildren and future generations to come. They will live their lives and grow up in this world based on your decisions.” – Stacey Feeley, Michigan mother

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We must do better…Generation Lockdown is asking us to do better.

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