Active shooter drills without advance notice scares some SWFL students

Friday marks two years since the horrifying massacre in Parkland. Seventeen people lost their lives when a shooter opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Since then, schools everywhere stepped up their safety training in case a similar devastating incident happens in their school. But now, two of the largest teachers unions in the nation said the training does more harm than good and calling for them to end because of the trauma they are causing students.

It is required by law for your kids to be put through active shooter training drills at least once a month. Some school districts WINK News reached out to, like Charlotte County Public Schools, said they have hired additional social workers and school psychologists to help.

“They may in the moment kind of feel like they’re really going through it,” said Dr. Laura Streyffeler, a mental health professional. “So, it can be traumatizing.”

The unions said unannounced active shooter drills are doing the most harm, where students do not know if there is an actual threat. It is something one local middle school student experienced recently.

“I didn’t know if it was real or not until afterward,” said the student, who requested anonymity. “We went back inside and we were all like, ‘was it real or no?’ And they’re like, ‘we wouldn’t be inside right now if it was real.'”

The unions are hoping parents can be told about the drills ahead of time and mental health professionals can be involved in how the information is presented to students. Rich Kolko, the WINK News safety and security specialist, said the most critical training is actually for first responders.

“They’ve got to be razor-sharp with their movements, with their communications,” Kolko said. “You look at the teachers in the schools, they’ve got to be sharp on, ‘how do I lock the doors? How do I communicate with the principal or other people.'”

Kolko said for students, it is more about situational awareness and following instruction. But parents we spoke to did not want to take any chances.

“They don’t need my consent to do a drill in school,” said Valerie Demas, who has kids in the School District of Lee County. “You know, they can just do it. That gives them. It gives the kids power to get out safely.”

Charlotte County Public Schools, in a statement to WINK, said:

We are bound by law to do that at this point we have to perform these active shooter drills. As part of our security measures, we hired eight more social workers and four more school psychologists to help our children that are having emotional issues about anything at any time.

We are and will always be in compliance with state and DOE law. We are required to hold active shooter and hostage situation drills at least once a month this is not only law, but also our School Board policy. Obviously the drills are a bit different from elementary through high school. If the unions are successful at getting the law changed then we will fall into compliance with the new laws.

Collier County Public Schools said:

We are monitoring the current legislative session for the impact it could have on our existing safety protocols.

Reporter:Justin Kase
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