098: Do school shooter trainings help (or hurt) children?

09.01.2019 - By Your Parenting Mojo - Respectful, research-based parenting ideas to help kids thrive

Download our free app to listen on your phone

A few months ago a listener in my own home town reached out because a potentially incendiary device had been found on the elementary school property, and many parents were demanding disaster drill training in response.  The listener wanted to know whether there is any research on whether these drills are actually effective in preparing children for these situations, and whether it's possible that they might actually cause psychological damage.

In this episode we review the (scant) evidence available on drills themselves, and also take a broader look at the kinds of measures used in schools in the name of keeping our children safe - but which may actually have the opposite from intended effect.

Read Full Transcript

Jen: 01:21 Hello and welcome to the Your Parenting Mojo podcast. We have another serious topic to cover today and it's probably one that you don't want to listen to with children around. I received a question from listener Selena about 6 months ago saying that an incendiary device had been discovered on the grounds of the public school that my daughter would actually going to be attend if we weren't going to homeschool. And that some of the parents who were very worried and were demanding video surveillance and disaster preparedness drills and she wants to know whether there was any research available about the impacts of drills to prepare children for things like active shooters. And I wanted to know are these drills effective? And then when I started researching this issue, I went down a complete rabbit hole related to the effectiveness of other kinds of school security measures as well as bullying, as a potential cause of violence in schools.
Jen: 02:08 And the kind of relational aggression that girls particularly to practice as well. So expect episodes on those topics soon in the coming months. But here to kick us off today on this mini series is Dr. Ben Fisher. He's Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at University of Louisville. Dr. Fisher’s research focuses on the intersection of education and criminal justice, but particular focus on school safety, security and discipline. He approaches this research from an interdisciplinary perspective with a focus on inequality that is grounded in his Ph.D. in community research and action from Vanderbilt University, which prepared him to work on this view from a social justice orientation. Welcome Dr. Fisher.
Dr. Fisher: 02:46 Thank you. Glad to be here.
Jen: 02:47 And so before we get going with our conversation today, I do want to just take a minute and acknowledge that we're recording this in the week after a gunman killed 22 people in Walmart in El Paso, Texas, and then another gunman killed 9 people outside a bar in Dayton, Ohio. So, it feels very raw to me to be discussing this today. We're going to talk today about the likelihood that a child will be killed in a school shooting. And despite the impression that we might get from the endless news cycles that keep these kinds of incidents top of mind when they happen, our chances of dying from many other causes are far, far greater than dying during a mass murder. But despite this, I do believe there are too many guns in our society and not enough control over who has access to them and what they do once they have them.
Jen: 03:30 And I also think that these kinds of events are not the ultimate problems we need to deal with. Yes, we need to make it much more difficult to access guns. So, people who feel disaffected can't harm large numbers of people very easily and instituting tighter gun control in a country where so much of the political power is tied to the money provided by the gun lobby currently seems like a really insurmountable challenge. But in my mind, the far greater challenges, the one facing our families and schools where we need to address what is leadi...

More episodes from Your Parenting Mojo - Respectful, research-based parenting ideas to help kids thrive