Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A Mock Intruder Drill....

will be taking place at the elementary school (K-5) where my mother is a counselor and my niece is a first grader tomorrow. I am really put off by this idea and kind of shocked by it. Of course, the rash of school shootings has also been quite appalling, and I understand a community's desire to "do" something about it.

Evidently a police officer will play the role of "intruder" and hold a teacher hostage. There will be EMS workers and police officers at the school as well. I hate the idea of five year olds having to think about the possibility of someone invading the school during story time. I'm just not sure what the utility of installing this fear and awareness is since I don't see how students practicing for an attack can really help. I guess it's good for teachers to know what the emergency plan is, but in reality, I'm not sure how much good training can do when someone is already in a school with a gun and wants to hurt others (and doesn't even mind risking his own life). I guess I think the best line of attack is keeping people out of the school, and I've personally entered this particular school on two occasions and never been stopped or asked to identify myself.

The high school is having an intruder drill as well, but the intruder will actually have a gun with blanks and be firing it. While that seems extreme to me, I'm not quite as put off by that notion. I guess I just hate little children, who are incapable of fully understanding this kind of drill, having their innocence stolen for what seems like no good reason to me.

On a positive note, no word from Mr. Regular, but then again, I was out of the office most of the day. I got to drive a total of four hours to file a piece of paper....I LOVE "work" like that--it's like being a very well-compensated truck driver or something.


Anonymous said...

Wow. Back when I was in school it was just "duck and cover". Intruder drills...a sad sign of the times.

When I used to be an investment banking analyst I would spend hours in a town car delivering documents. It was definitely like being a well-compensated bike messenger.

Aaron said...

Definately a sign of the times, but I applaud the school board for promoting this.

It seems like a black-n-white issue to me.
1. Prepare students for the worse.
2. Don't prepare the students for the worse.

You and I both know the moment something bad happens, the community will want to know why the school system did nothing to prepare for this instance, blah blah blah. Sure, life is WAY different now than when you and I were in school. I wouldn't want my children to live under any misconception that they were actually safe at school. And it doesn't seem like they're actually going to terrorize the younger students to me. Dare I suggest, treat it like sex-education at that age. You don't have to explain *everything*, but tell them just enough "to know better".

If you want a good debate, heres one for you: If you're going to go through the drill with students, what do you want to instruct them to do? Turn out the lights and hide in the room? Gather in a pre-determined location? Personally, I'd tell my kid to "Get the hell out of the building!" It'd be nice if there was a plan in place. Most likely, mass hysteria would take over anyway.

I suppose we can speculate "what-ifs" all day long. But if I'm ever blessed with children, I hope I'll be in a community that won't ever be plauged with these issues.

cdp said...

My son's school has a color-coded security-level system kind of like the terror threat thing. Every time the security is upped at the school for any reason, they send home written notice with the kids. My feelings were similar to yours, Ally, until last year when I received a letter that the elementary school had gone to "yellow" that day due to two unidentified men who had not checked in as visitors being spotted roaming the hallways. No one knew who they were and as it turns out, they had no legitimate reason for being there. That day made me feel much better about why my six year old knows what it means for his school to be "on lockdown."

Of course, we had a similar letter come home earlier this year due to two (formerly married) parents having a "domestic issue" in the carpool line during which local law enforcement was called to the school. Very Jerry Springer.

This summer I got to bill nine hours for driving to Ellaville and watching a very, very slowly moving clerk stamp and remove post-it stickies from about thirty documents. Combined with the hourly rates of the two lawyers who also went, I'd say the client probably considered us VERY well compensated truck drivers/bike messengers that day. Nothing like a $3,000 road trip to Schley County.

Flat Coke and Flies said...

All we had are tornado & fire drills when I was in school. Life is much scarier now for young children, isn't it? I think 5 year olds would do just fine with a "talk" but maybe someone acting it out will make a difference and they can remember what to do better. I hope they present it in a way that doesn't fill the child with too much fear of school. It's supposed to be a place of fun, and learning.

4 hours out of the office--WHOO HOO!! I love days like that too.

Ally said...

Ella: You sum it up well--"a sad sign of the times."

Aaron: I guess the whole experience of the drill sounds terrorizing to me, but perhaps I'm underestimating five year olds and what they are aware of now. My thinking is that you can't prepare for this, BUT I'm not an expert in any regard with stuff like this. I would think running for dear life might be better than a lock down (since a lock down seems like that would give an armed intruder access to everyone--especially given all of the glass windows and whatnot). I figure regardless of planning there will a hysteria, but surely the local board and police have given this a lot of thought.

Cindy: I'm glad to hear a parent's perspective. And what you mention reiterates the concern I have--why aren't we doing a better job of keeping people out of the schools? I know it stinks, but shouldn't all of the doors to the school be locked with only point of entry? And shouldn't that point of entry be monitored 100% of the time?

FC&F: When my mother talked to my niece about the "drill," Alaina said "Oh no." My mom said "It's going to be OK." And Alaina said "Well I hate getting all squished down in the floor." So maybe the first graders will just think of this as an annoying tornado drill.

Anonymous said...

Allison, I assure you that your concerns are justified re: a full-blown terrorist drill in a primary or elementary school level. The counselors at the school should have gotten together and given there views on such a drill. Children at such a tender age can very well be traumatized by such a drill. Even the high school drill should not be using the blanks which will actually traumatize some of the students. Trust me after these drills are done there will be much soul-searching in that community. As some of your contributors noted "they should have certain preparations and specific drills. When I worked at a high school for about 4 to 5 years recently - The lockdown systen was used two or three times,one as a drill and the other due to an armed robbery about 1/4 mile away with the perpetrator still being sought. Their plan was very very well co-ordinated and planned from my vantage point. Children all fleeing ,regardless of what age, would not be any type of solution as it would take you several hours to know if any one was missing and also give the opportunity for even more violence. The lock down system with one well-trained teacher on each hall way with access to a locked fire-arm within their reach would be one of the better solutions. Naturally I am biased with many years in law enforcement. If the drill is traumatic at the primary school you will see an extremely abnormally high number of children getting sick and needing to go Home. Sorry for such a long diatribe but if the small children are not prepared properly you may let your mother know of your concerns if it has not already been held. DR. Ridge

icadle said...

On a more serious note, this post takes me back to the days of "Bomb Threats" and my formative education at Swainsboro Primary School. It seems calling in a bomb threat was quite the thing to do back in those days. I recall dozens of hours, spent on the playground, for no good reason, building sand castles and playing with my friends while maintaining orderly segregation by class.

Seems you don't hear so much about the casual bomb threat anymore, and all this preparedness has me concerned that children aren't spending enought time on the playground. If these threats are handled so efficiently, then those poor kids probably can't get an entire sand castle built. And people are wondering why we don't have enough engineers...

Anonymous said...

As a parent.. I think I side more on the "let's have an intruder drill" due to the fact these shootings/knifings are on the high-rise. I know it's terrible to do, but times have definitely changed.. and perhaps an intrude drill will help a little in the event something like this happens at school.. maybe something they 'practiced' will go through their mind if it does happen and just so happen to save their life... I hope.