San Marino High School was scheduled to stage an active-shooter drill Friday morning, bit it was cancelled at the request of the American Civil Liberties Union, a newspaper reported.
City police officers planned to fire blank cartridges over 11 minutes to familiarize students with the sound of gunfire and staff would teach students about a protection strategy called “run, hide, fight” in the event of a shooting emergency, the Los Angeles Times reported.
But the ACLU intervened and asked Principal Issaic Gates to stop the drill, concerned that it could be too traumatic for teenagers. On Thursday, the San Marino school district canceled it, according to the newspaper.
“We of course were deeply concerned with any active-shooter drill, but certainly one where they were going to be shooting guns,” said Sylvia Torres-Guillen, director of education equity for the ACLU of California, in remarks reported by The Times. “Our objective is to ensure that youth are in schools that are sanctuaries of learning and not places where they’re inflicted with trauma.”
Schools across California and the nation are increasingly practicing active-shooter drills in the face of gun violence on campus. At least 16 states, including California, now require or encourage schools to carry out active-shooter drills, according to one analysis, and 95% of schools nationwide conducted a drill in the 2014-15 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
But there is growing backlash among mental health professionals, some school safety experts and others about the graphic nature of live drills, which sometimes include fake gunfire and simulations of violent attacks that use teachers and students as actors. Such events can provoke unnecessary anxiety and cause mental health harm without providing clear safety benefits, they say, according to The Times.
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