I came upon this article on Yahoo news that made my head spin, https://news.yahoo.com/school-activeshooter-drills-helpful-or-harmful-002053143.html
Is active shooter training too traumatic? The article doesn’t seem to be pushing one idea over the other, it’s just presenting both sides of the argument (kinda like the old days in the news media when they just gave the news, not give their commentaries!) Apparently some people have complained of the stress and trauma they are experiencing during active shooter training, and now have convinced themselves that the training may be too traumatic for school kids.
That anyone can think and believe that the act and actions of preparing to deal with a very stressful situation of any kind, be it performing in front of an Olympic sports crowd, preparing for the bar exam, or surviving an active shooter situation, can be too traumatic is totally incomprehensible to me. Now I think we can all agree there IS “bad” training out there, and I do agree that the company that did the active shooter training in Indiana and shot the teachers in a mock execution was out of line (https://www.indystar.com/story/news/politics/2019/03/21/active-shooter-training-for-schools-teachers-shot-with-plastic-pellets/3231103002/). I believe that training should be giving people knowledge, skills, and self confidence, and I do not see how lining them up and shooting them in the back does any of that. Just my humble opinion.
But I do absolutely agree and deeply believe that training MUST be as realistic and as dynamic as possible! The stress that some people complained about is exactly what they should be feeling while going through dynamic, realistic training. That bit of stress, in a safe training environment, is helping the brain lock in information and actions learned during the course of the training so that IF that person ever finds themselves in a similar situation , they will react and respond as trained and most likely will save themselves and others. Training minimizes the chance that someone will have a vapor lock, freeze and do nothing.
An argument against training kids in school for an active shooter is that “Most kids will never experience a shooting. All kids are at risk of psychological damage”… WHAT?? Most kids will never be Olympic level athletes, how about the psychological damage of constant training and losing all the time? Oh wait, that’s why they give out participation trophies now… When teens are taught to put on their seatbelt when learning how to drive, does the idea of being in a horrific accident traumatize them? No, and some choose not to wear their seatbelt anyway.
In my experience growing up, the fire drills we had in school did not traumatize me about what could happen, in fact most times the whole situation became a whole lot of giggles and goofing around and teachers trying to get us kids to “take it seriously”. Training can be and needs to be “fun” for kids, and taking their attention span into account, training will still be very effective in teaching kids how to react and respond to emergencies. How many people are alive today because their child knew to dial 911? Was that child so traumatized at the thought that their parent could die right there in front of them, or did they react and respond as taught? As trained?
Yes, there are bad trainers and training programs out there, but science and real life experiences have shown over and OVER AGAIN the critical connection between what a person does in training and what they do in a real situation. Think of some skill you have, the confidence you have in that skill, be it bowling, flying an airplane, building a deck, and so on, what ever… Did that skill and confidence “just” happen? It took time, it took you doing things over and over again, training yourself, to get to where you are today. I am a private pilot, and I can sometimes land an airplane so smoothly there is hardly a bump as the main gear touches down, but that took hours upon hours of flying since I got my pilots license in 1984.
Is active shooter training too traumatic? To be effective, training needs to be dynamic and realistic. People who think otherwise are setting themselves and other people up for failure in dealing with the realities of life. Just my humble opinion based on my life experiences, training and observations.