A high school in Bethel Park, Pittsburgh, is making headlines for holding an active shooter drill during an extended third period class to “expose” students to the sound of gunfire, according to CBC affiliate KDKA-TV News.
According to a letter sent to the parents, the school police and Bethel Park Police Department will conduct the exercise that has been as termed as A.L.I.C.E. It stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate.
At a time when school shootings have tragically become a new normal in the United States, the drill will reportedly stimulate a school shooting with a gunman inside the building. During the exercise, law enforcement officials will also fire blanks, not real bullets, in hallways to teach students what gunfire sounds like.
The school reassured parents the blanks will not be fired at anyone. Although some other schools in the area have conducted similar drills, some parents at Bethel Park High School were concerned about the effect such exercise might have on their children’s mental health – particularly those who struggle with anxiety or PTSD.
“Students have been prepared; although, I have not been advised about what that preparation consists of,” Nanette Adams, whose son recently enrolled in the school, told KDKA-TV News. “My concern is for students who may have some sort of issue with anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, special needs students.”
The fact that police will be using blanks during the drill, the sound of which will be heard through out the school, also appeared to have become a source of worry.
Apart from the potential psychological effects it could have on students, Adams wondered how people residing in the area – who have no idea a drill is taking place – would react to it. Some might even believe it to be real gunfire.
“There are homes located nearby, and I have no idea if anyone who does not have a student in the district has been informed that this drill is going to be taking place,” she added. “There’s a lot of unknown variables of what could potentially happen if a homeowner nearby heard shots being fired off.”
A grandparent of another student voiced similar sentiments.
“Even though they were told ahead of time, what will happen -- I think kids with any kind of issues will intensify,” the told WPXI News.
However, there are also those who don’t have a problem with the school’s proposed plan.
“Why not give them the tools to be ready for it instead of being worried about a traumatic experience of what could be a traumatic experience?” said Nicki Sink, whose daughter goes to the high school.
It is quite unfortunate that schools have to resort to such extreme tactics to protect children. After all, the Trump administration and House Republicans’ failure to support and implement stricter gun control legislation is the reason for deadly school shootings – not the lack of safety drills.
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