The Merits (or Lack Thereof) of School Shooting Drills

ALICE Training Institute logo | Photo credit: ALICE Training Institute

ALICE Training Institute logo | Photo credit: ALICE Training Institute

Dylan Shapiro, Education Writer

In light of the ALICE drill several weeks ago, many people seem confused — confused about why we do them, if they work, and if what we practice in the ALICE drill would actually work during a shooting.

Oftentimes, school shooter drills such as the ALICE drill can be so over the top that they cause many more problems than they solve. According to The Atlantic, a high school in Florida initiated a lockdown. There was an announcement over the PA system that it was not a drill (it was, in fact, a drill), and many students suffered significant health-related problems as a result. There were reports of students vomiting, fainting, and crying uncontrollably. Many contacted their parents to tell them that they believed that there was a shooter in the building. Those parents swamped the police with calls, alerting them to the perceived shooting. While most shooting drills are not nearly this extreme, the fact is that they do occur, and they are extremely negative.

It is fair to say that the ALICE training we at Obama (and across the entire school district) participated in has much more in common with the average school shooter training than what occurred in Florida. According to the ALICE training’s website, ALICE trainings have been used in certain situations where the result was “deemed positive by persons involved.” This is, of course, a statement which sounds good on paper, but is actually meaningless. A “situation” could simply be one of the drills which are part of the program. The outcome being deemed “positive” could be one of the drills going well. Even on their own website, ALICE can’t provide a single example in which ALICE trainings were used in an actual emergency scenario, and actually did much of anything.

Based on all of this information, there is only one conclusion which can be drawn. ALICE drills are at best a waste of time, and at worst, a serious threat to the school environment. I know multiple people who have had some sort of negative mental reaction to these drills. Even those of us who may not have problems tied to mental health still can’t help but jump when someone bangs on our classroom door to imitate a shooter. We simply cannot allow a school culture where we are told for fifteen minutes every year to hide in a corner, pretending that our school is under attack by someone who wants to kill every single one of us. I would challenge every single one of those school board members who approved these programs to actually participate in them. Not teach them, not learn about them, but to do them. I challenge every single one of those board members to hide in a corner in a room, with the door barricaded, and hear as someone tries to break down the door. We need to show everyone that it is not okay for us, as students, to be put into incredibly stressful situations for the sake of being put into incredibly stressful situations. Get in contact with school board members, be it through letter writing campaigns, social media, or even just going to one of their meetings. We must fight for our rights as students. We must get rid of school shooter drills.