In the case of the threats of shooting on campus, it is of utmost importance to teach children how to deal with panic and quickly evaluate the surroundings to find the best places for hiding if it is not possible to escape. The strategy to ensure safety for students in case of an active shooter event should consist of steps to teach children how to protect themselves, sort out priorities, and evaluate their chances to escape. Before any similar situation occurs, all students should receive education on emergency evacuation rules and the safest ways to exit a building if some part of it is controlled by shooters – therefore, regular emergency evacuation drills are required.
Due to regular drills, students will know the building well enough to be able to escape quickly. Also, when conducting these drills, it is critical to consider the best escape routes for students with severe mobility issues and disabilities. Although teachers often have the opportunity to protect students and coordinate their actions, it is critical to teach the basic safety principles to all children, and this is what I would emphasize when talking to my students. This includes the need to leave one’s belongings behind, stay quiet, help others to escape whenever possible, silence one’s mobile phone, and follow other safety measures.
Next, to support students’ emotional needs during emergency incidents involving shootings, it is critical to take measures to calm children down and prevent them from panicking and attracting the attention of shooters. As for my strategy, I would do my best to sound confident and calm when providing students with instructions regarding how to exit the building and find an appropriate hiding place. After getting to a safe place, I would provide children with the best possible emotional support, including appropriate physical contact (hugging) with those exhibiting the signs of emotional breakdown, telling them that the help is near, and preventing them from seeing other people get injuries. Using this strategy, I would try to serve as a positive example for students and make children focus on what should be done to stay safe instead of panicking.