Saugus High School Shooting: Response of Students Shows How Detailed Active Shooter Training Has Become
When gunfire erupted in the Saugus High School quad Thursday morning, students had mere seconds to react. They sprinted and threw themselves in a ditch for cover. They hid in closets, locked and barricaded doors with desks. And some readied for a possible fight, arming themselves with scissors or a fire extinguisher.
The range of quick actions by some 2,000 students and staff reveals not only how detailed active shooter training has become at schools across the country, but highlights a growing debate among school safety experts, some who are alarmed that increasingly aggressive drills have gone too far and risk becoming trauma-inducing events of their own.
The trainings sometimes contain graphic and realistic enactments — one in Indiana recently involved shooting teachers “execution-style” with a pellet gun — and may cause distress or even injuries for those involved, critics said.
“Going through these drills can be itself a traumatic event,” said Deborah Temkin, senior director of education research at Child Trends, a nonprofit research organization. “We really have to weigh that potential trauma with the benefit that could be gained.”
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