Teaching my kids how to stay safe during a school shooting is something I would have never imagined before they were born. I guess I was naive in thinking that school is the safest place for kids, despite living just minutes from Columbine High School. As it happens more often, I’ve decided that’s it imperative to give my kids these vital tips for how to stay safe during a school shooting.
1. Report Any Threats
Kids aren’t always that great at handling strong emotions and are apt to say things they might not even understand when they get angry. My kids know that if they ever hear a kid at school saying they will kill another student or something else threatening, they are to immediately tell a teacher and myself when they get home. This teaches kids how to stay safe during a school shooting by helping alert adults about the possibility that a student may do something dangerous. However, once a shooting is in progress, children need to know safety tips that can save lives.
2. Listen to Adults
Most schools have a lockdown or evacuation procedure in place should a shooter become active in the building. Of course, your child would be terrified if they faced this situation, but they need to know that their lives depend on following the directions exactly. They need to listen very carefully as their teachers or other adults tell them what to do, even if they are very scared. Your child’s school no doubt practices these drills. Consider being present for one, so you can answer any questions your child might have.
Yes, you usually emphasize following the rules when your child heads off to school. However, if a shooter enters the building, everything changes. In that instance, tell your child that it’s ok to run and hide. Talk about safe places where she can take refuge if she is separated from her class and to stay there until a trusted adult comes for her, no matter what is happening outside her hiding place. I’ve told my kids they won’t get in trouble for this, and I’ll know exactly where to look for them if I need to.
4. Stay Quiet
Whether your child is hiding or is in the middle of a lockdown drill, instruct him to stay quiet. This will help disguise his location, hopefully keeping him safe from harm during a scary event. Many lockdown drills require hiding under a desk or in a locked classroom closet, so help your child practice techniques to stay silent even if he’s scared. You can also practice ways he can help his classmates remain quiet.
Statistics show that kids who escape from the school, whether they’ve been hurt or not, typically survive a school shooting. For this reason, I’ve told my kids to get out of the building any way they can as soon as possible, provided they won’t encounter the shooter in the process. This might mean breaking a window with a chair or running out the emergency exit. Tell your child that it doesn’t matter and the most important thing to do is to leave the scene right away and run as far as possible from the location. This step is part of many active school shooter training courses.
6. Don’t Return to the School
Even if your child ends up by herself around the corner, she should never go back to the scene of the shooting. Help your child learn the way to the meeting location that most schools have arranged in the event that an evacuation is necessary. That way she can make her way there to find a trusted adult. Talk about a house she can go to or a yard she can hide in if she needs to, so you know where to find her if she’s not accounted for.
7. Fight Back
In a worst case scenario, your child may come face to face with a school shooter. Teach him proper self-defense techniques to keep himself as safe as possible. Maybe he’s close enough to kick the shooter and knock him off balance so he can run away. Teach your child to run away in a zig zag pattern, which makes him less of a target. Figure out the best methods for your child’s age and physical abilities.
Do school shootings scare you? It’s enough to make me want to home school my kids. How do you talk about school shootings with your kids?