What does it solve?
95% of American public schools drill students on lockdown procedures. Yet, there is almost no research affirming the value of these drills for preventing school shootings or protecting the school community when shootings do occur.
Students, educators, and staff have experienced distress and sometimes lasting trauma as a result of active shooter drills. Everytown does not recommend these drills for students, and believes schools should carefully consider these impacts before conducting live drills that involve students. While only 0.2% of gun deaths a year occur on school grounds, drills to prepare students and staff to respond in the unlikely event of a shooting have become a near-universal practice in American schools today.
How it works
A trauma-informed approach to active shooter drills is essential.
For schools that do conduct drills: drills should not mimic an actual incident. Schools should:
- Provide advance notice when a drill is planned.
- Drills should be announced to students before they start.
- Create age and developmentally appropriate drill content with the involvement of school personnel, including school-based mental health professionals.
- Couple drills with trauma-informed approaches to address students’ well-being.
- Track data about the efficacy and effects of drills
A robust school safety plan must involve more than holding periodic shooter drills. Early intervention is key to preventing potential violent behavior and getting students appropriate treatment. Schools should create comprehensive threat assessment programs, and states should make funding available to implement these programs. Schools should also work to create safe and equitable schools, implement expert-endorsed security upgrades, and implement trauma-informed emergency planning. Lawmakers must also enact meaningful gun violence prevention policies to enable intervention before a potential shooter can even get their hands on a gun.
By the numbers
School-based drills are required in at least 40 states.