School districts across the country are considering the most effective and least traumatic ways to prepare faculty and students for worst-case scenario situations, District Administration reports.
Some administrators involve students in realistic active drills, and others opt for summer drills with staff or school-wide tabletop discussions of how to implement the “Run. Hide. Fight.” plan in handling different scenarios.
Some experts argue that drills empower people to know how to respond, while others insist that building better relationships and providing early interventions to troubled students is the best way to mitigate threats and acts of violence.
The recent shooting at Freeman High School in Washington state was a stark reminder to school administrators that threats of violence can escalate at any time. As school districts strive to be prepared, they need to weigh the pros and cons of preparedness strategies and determine which will provide the most effective protection without increasing student — and teacher — anxiety.
While school districts are discussing active shooter drills and increasing the presence of guns on campus as part of a school violence prevention strategy, they are also looking at the impact social-emotional learning can have on preventing such strategies and in helping students prepare and heal from the impact of crisis situations.
Relationship-building is a primary component of social-emotional learning and, in some cases can prevent student issues from escalating into violence. Doing so with students can also empower them to feel more comfortable with approaching adults with concerns about potential threats or behavior in their peers that may raise concerns. Whatever strategies are employed, students on the middle school and high school level should be considered as part of the solution because they will likely spot early warning signs of trouble before most adults.