Why does active shooter training work?

Do active shooter drills work?

As many as 50,000 active shooter drills are scheduled each year in the United States, a year in which six were reported, and this year one took place at an elementary school in the South. But does training, especially for schools, really work? Are schools safer when they do drills? You decide.

Given that white men are behind at least 55 percent of school shootings, active shooter drills have become a response to security issues in the educational setting — we “know what’s safe, and we know what might work,” said Chicago Public Schools’ Jason Moon, who heads up the district’s efforts to address violence in schools. And while he acknowledged that these drills can be beneficial — “they do have good consequences, because we know it’s not going to work every time” — he says, in most cases, the best approach is to study what has and hasn’t worked.

Luckily, the first wave of research suggests the answer might be yes. In two studies, researchers found that active shooter drills were related to the overall threat perception of students, and also led to an overall decrease in bullying. That was not the case, however, with afterthoughts. In fact, certain activities, like implementing safety plans and information sharing, might increase risk.

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