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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