Educators say shooter drills are traumatizing students; urge admins to scale back

Two of the country’s largest teacher’s unions are urging school districts to scale back on active shooter drills because they say the drills are traumatizing to students.

News 12 Staff

Feb 19, 2020, 2:41 AM

Updated 1,551 days ago

Share:

Educators say shooter drills are traumatizing students; urge admins to scale back
Two of the country’s largest teacher’s unions are urging school districts to scale back on active shooter drills because they say the drills are traumatizing to students.
Officials say that while the chances of a school shooting are low, they are never zero. There were more than 400 mass shootings in the United States last year, so the fear of a shooting is real to many school officials.
But some teachers are left wondering if shooter drills need to be as intense as they sometimes are. Some schools will conduct drills that realistically simulate a school shooting.
"They've used blanks to simulate the gunshots, they've had a masked person in the hallway, those types of things,” says Metuchen school safety coordinator Bill Ortman. “And I've heard really nothing but bad reactions as to how people have responded to that.”
Ortman says that he still believes that schools should have some version of shooter drills. He says that in Metuchen, drills have become routine – something he says is a good thing.
New Jersey state law is vague on how the drills should be conducted. Some schools can use extreme measures and school officials do not need to tell the students or teachers or parents beforehand.
"I don't think it's one particular thing. I don't think it's that particular drill and having it every month that is going to affect them,” says school psychologist Edith Lima.
Lima has been a school psychologist in New Jersey for about 10 years. She says that drills are OK as long as there is mental health support for the students as well.
"That's why there's such a push now to try to have more mental health support to try to be able to get to those students,” Lima says.
But in a report released this week by gun safety group Everytown and several parent, student and teacher organizations, Melissa Reeves, former president of the National Association of School Psychologists, says, "What these drills can really do is potentially trigger either past trauma or trigger such a significant physiological reaction that it actually ends up scaring the individuals instead of better preparing them to respond in these kinds of situations."
This means that it is up to experts like Ortman to decided how best to conduct the drills.
"Regular rehearsal of both fire, evacuating from the building, and emergency drills, seeking sanctuary within the building, is a good mix to be prepared for just about any scenario that can come up,” he says.
But Ortman does say that he wonders if the state should set parameters for the drills more clearly.
A spokesperson for the New Jersey teacher's union tells News 12 New Jersey that they are concerned about creating drills that could cause trauma to the students.


More from News 12
1:37
Tour de Elizabeth takes cyclists through New Jersey's fourth-largest city

Tour de Elizabeth takes cyclists through New Jersey's fourth-largest city

1:38
Mostly cloudy skies and dry conditions in New Jersey

Mostly cloudy skies and dry conditions in New Jersey

0:23
Police: Haddonfield man faces charges for arson, stalking and vandalism

Police: Haddonfield man faces charges for arson, stalking and vandalism

0:17
Authorities: George Washington Bridge climber in custody

Authorities: George Washington Bridge climber in custody

1:42
Jersey Creators Market event in Jersey City brings street designers from all over Garden State

Jersey Creators Market event in Jersey City brings street designers from all over Garden State

1:40
Red Bank's Broad Walk summer festival returns to downtown

Red Bank's Broad Walk summer festival returns to downtown

2:08
Residents get rid of junk during citywide ‘Love Newark, Keep It Clean’ campaign

Residents get rid of junk during citywide ‘Love Newark, Keep It Clean’ campaign

1:19
Bus catches fire on Garden State Parkway near Wall Township

Bus catches fire on Garden State Parkway near Wall Township

0:23
Prosecutor: Plainfield man sentenced to 5 years in prison for Bridgewater car crash

Prosecutor: Plainfield man sentenced to 5 years in prison for Bridgewater car crash

1:43
CDC urges people to get vaccinated amid resurgence of mpox

CDC urges people to get vaccinated amid resurgence of mpox

0:31
Police: Jersey City man arrested following pursuit spanning 2 counties

Police: Jersey City man arrested following pursuit spanning 2 counties

2:37
‘We’re asking to fight.’ Parents, students call on officials to save Wayne Catholic school from closing

‘We’re asking to fight.’ Parents, students call on officials to save Wayne Catholic school from closing

2:05
36th Annual Belmar Seafood Festival to take place this weekend at Silver Lake Park

36th Annual Belmar Seafood Festival to take place this weekend at Silver Lake Park

0:25
Prosecutor: Human remains found in 1 of 3 cars submerged in Cooper River in Pennsauken

Prosecutor: Human remains found in 1 of 3 cars submerged in Cooper River in Pennsauken

0:18
Newark police seek public’s help identifying package thief

Newark police seek public’s help identifying package thief

0:21
Officials: 3 people, including 2 officers, injured in car crash in Jersey City

Officials: 3 people, including 2 officers, injured in car crash in Jersey City

0:41
Jersey Proud: Rowan College students hold fashion show at Cherry Hill Mall with their designs

Jersey Proud: Rowan College students hold fashion show at Cherry Hill Mall with their designs

0:15
Police: Newton hospital temporarily put on lockdown amid reports of armed person

Police: Newton hospital temporarily put on lockdown amid reports of armed person

2:26
First full week of Sen. Menendez’s federal corruption trial comes to a close

First full week of Sen. Menendez’s federal corruption trial comes to a close

2:24
New Jersey man dubbed ‘most frequent flyer’ hits 24 million miles in the sky

New Jersey man dubbed ‘most frequent flyer’ hits 24 million miles in the sky