With the new school year just beginning this fall, anxiety often takes over the minds of adolescents in schools around the U.S. with the thoughts of potential tragedies striking.
According to a report in The Washington Post, in 2017 and 2018 alone there were over 5,000 school lockdowns, creating fear from elementary schools all the way through high school. Due to the intense broadcasting of school shootings and threats on all news outlets, depression and anxiety in adolescents has increased greatly over the last decade.
“I didn’t think too much that it was really going to happen to us,” said Jane Ryan, a freshman here at Novato High School. “When it first was going on, it was really scary. I was thinking, ‘why are people doing this? Shooting innocent kids?’”
When discussing lockdown drills, Ryan had mixed opinions.
“On one side it’s like you want to be prepared but on the other side, they could be a little more discreet about it,” Ryan explained. “In middle school, we started having them so often that it felt like they actually thought something was going to happen there.”
Certain schools even go to drastic measures to simulate a threat on campus. Using fake blood, mock masked shooters, unseen people jiggling door handles and even simulating gunfire with sound effects. These schools have turned the experience of what should be a harmless lockdown drill into something much more terrifying for students. These extreme drills could send students into a panic, or cause them to think it was a real attack. This could even lead some students to potentially send goodbye messages to loved ones, making parents furious with the school.
“They (the drills) do cause anxiety but so do the hide, run, fight presentations,” said Savanna Hopson, a freshman at Terra Linda High School. “Even though I’m scared about getting caught in one (a shooter situation), what scares me more is my brother getting caught in one.”
When asked about the precautions to take for lockdown drills, Katie Faircloth, who teaches biology and chemistry at Novato High said, “when we have a lockdown drill, I make sure students know why we’re practicing, and then I try to keep the mood as light as I can.”
“Teachers should remind us that it’s not common for a school shooter to come here, even though it might be,” said Hopson when asked for suggestions about what staff should do to keep the atmosphere light. It has become such a common event in America that it hardly shakes the ground when another shooting occurs.
We might never come to a common agreement on whether lockdown drills are necessary, but in one way or another, these drills are very significant. Teenagers and students will never be silenced, and our voices should be heard because we are just as important as every other human on this planet. Lockdown drills should be executed in a way that makes the students, staff and anyone on campus feel safe, while also making sure to follow the right procedures to do so.