While active shooter drills are intended to prepare students for possible violence, experts believe that they are doing more harm than good.
Among United States schools, 95 percent regularly hold active shooter drills, according to Everytown for Gun Safety. Through analyzing millions of tweets and Reddit posts, the gun control nonprofit found that lockdown practices are damaging student mental health.
“The cumulative impact of shooter drills, lockdowns, metal detectors, armed teachers, and other school-hardening measures is an environment that feels inherently unsafe for America’s schoolchildren,” senior director of research at Everytown Sarah Burd-Sharps told The Hill.
By noting words like “afraid" and “suicidal," the analysis found a 42 percent increase in anxiety and a 39 percent increase in depression caused by the drills.
School shootings were at their highest in 2022, with 51 throughout the entire year. However, school shootings are still less that one percent of gun deaths, according to the report. Because there is no evidence to suggest active shooter drills prevent deaths or keep students safer, researchers are questioning why they need to be implemented at all.
Nancy Rappaport, child psychiatrist and associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, also told The Hill that lockdowns are “conducted in a pretty poor, chaotic way.” Sometimes, students are not even told that the lockdown is a drill, and are led to believe there is an active shooter until it is over.
“I’ve had several kids who have been involved with school shootings ... and then they have to do lockdowns. And that’s really, really hard," Rappaport said. 'Talk about a triggering event, when you’ve been in a school that might have had a school shooting, and then you return to school and you’d have to keep practicing these drills."
To Rappaport, emergency evacuation plans and proper threat assessment are more than enough for schools to be prepared for active shooters.
"Every time you get on a plane, people give you warnings about how to manage if there’s a plane crash," she said. "But they don’t do a simulated crash."