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The Unnecessary Terror of “Real” Lockdown Drills

Gun violence is a serious problem, but instilling fear in kids does not help

Sara Zaske
Source: Sara Zaske

This was my son’s sign for the March for Our Lives today. He is 8. He chose this message, and he means it – not just because he loves recess. He has been through several lockdown drills. He told me after the march that his school does not always tell him it is a drill, and it scares him. An announcer simply says "There's an intruder in the building!" and then the kids have to hide. My 11-year-old daughter has also been through similar “surprise” lockdowns.

When I was kid, we had bomb drills. It was the Cold War. They made us hide under desks. It was an absurd exercise because if the Soviets sent a nuclear bomb to land on the unlikely target of Buffalo, New York, hiding under desks would not help us.

But at least they told us it was a drill.

These “realistic” lockdowns are unnecessarily terrorizing our kids. First, while we have way more shootings than any other modern Western culture, it is still, thank goodness, statistically unlikely that your kid will experience one.

That doesn’t mean we should not try to prevent school shootings with better gun regulations or that kids should not prepare with drills.

But it does more harm than good to have lockdown drills and not tell the kids it’s a drill.

Why make the kids think it is real? I am guessing the school officials do this because they want the kids to take it seriously, but small children will believe what adults say and be terrified by it. By middle school, most kids will figure out that it is false and dismiss it. And that’s more dangerous than having no lockdown drills at all.

Have we forgotten the lesson of The Boy Who Cried Wolf ? If you keep telling them it is real when it is not, they will not believe you in the rare circumstance that a wolf really is there.

And in America, our wolves come armed with AR-15s.