Columbine, the school shooting that I feel was the beginning of what is now an epidemic we face, happened my last year of high school before I entered into the adult world as a mother and teacher. I never imagined back then what a scary reality an active shooter situation would become.
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This is not a reality I want to see as a teacher or a parent.
But sadly it is our reality. I’m not going to get into the politics of why we’re here. No political agenda is going to save us or our children in that very moment.
These shootings are happening in so many places we send our children- schools, movie theaters, malls, concerts, churches. Places where as they get even older we often aren’t there with them. I have sadly accepted as THEIR MOTHER it is my job to prepare my children how to handle this incredibly scary reality that is a part of the society we have brought them into.
We talk to our kids about drugs, drinking and driving, safe sex and reporting sexual abuse, and stranger danger. All of these things threaten our children’s safety and sometimes their very life.
Now we must add talking to them about what to do in the case of an active shooter.
I recently attended as A TEACHER a new active shooter training method called ALICE. I came right home and went through anything and everything I could think of with my school age daughters because no matter what training their teachers may have I need them to know what to do in hopes they can save themselves.
This isn’t a talk I imagined as my parenting reality. It’s not a lesson I thought I’d ever teach. But the reality is here we are.
If our kids are ever in this situation they will have split seconds to react. But if we talk to them and practice and role play with them beforehand then if they find themselves in one of these NIGHTMARE SITUATIONS we’ve given them the tools to have a fighting chance.
Here are a couple things you can review with your children in the event they are ever in an active shooter situation:
Tell them if they can escape and evacuate the building/area GO! Get the hell out and as far away as possible. There are a couple of businesses near my kids’ school and I tell them to keep running until they get there around other adults.
If running and the shooter is close they should run in a zig zag to make them a harder target to hit.
Once somewhere safe, then is the time to call 911. They’ll want to give as much info as possible to help others escape the shooter and get police help as soon as possible.
If they can’t escape and evacuate, they will want to lockdown.
To lockdown they’ll want to secure a door and hide as best as possible. They should move any and all furniture they can in front of the door. If the door locks, they can secure the door more by jamming the handle with belts, cords, or chair legs. Even if it doesn’t lock they can jam it with these things so a shooter can’t get in.
If at school, students should not be in the hallway banging on doors for a teacher to let them in. Teachers won’t know whether they’re the shooter or not. Once they’ve secured that door with 15-30 other students it’s going to be tough to open it back up. They need to escape to a janitor closest or bathroom where they can do their best to block that door.
Though a locked down room or area would hopefully deter a shooter, teach them to be prepared if the shooter gets through so they’re not just sitting ducks. They should be prepared behind the secure door with something to throw or heave at the shooter in hopes of distracting him. Some think working together to try to take the shooter down is their next best option. However, if the shooter is caught off guard with all the flying objects that could be their opportunity to run.
Though staplers and hole punchers and desk chairs will cause more damage, if they’re little or not in a classroom even throwing their shoes or backpacks can throw the shooter off and distract him enough for them to run.
I hate this reality as a teacher, as a parent, as a citizen, as a decent human being.
But I can no longer ignore the fact that I must make sure I’ve taught and given my children the best resources possible to fight for their survival in what has become of our society today.