Teaching Your Kids About Lockdown Drills

The stark reality of life in 2019 is that school shootings are part of education, which means that safety is one of the most important considerations in every school.


Since Sandy Hook, there have been over 300 instances of gun violence on school campuses and over 138 people have been killed in those instances. Violence on school campuses is a real concern for every community in America and it is something that cannot be ignored. And when it comes to school safety, lockdown drills play a vital part in protecting students and teachers from active shooter threats. In general, school lockdown drills involve locking classroom doors, covering windows, turning out the lights, and hiding from armed and violent intruders. There is no uniform set of regulations, and requirements for what school districts can and cannot implement varies not only from state to state, but sometimes from district to district.


Within the past year an increasing number of critics have questioned the psychological effects of lockdowns on children, especially on younger students. While this is a valid concern, lockdown drills are an integral part of any school safety plan and can be a critical component in keeping those same kids safe. As specialists in blackout shades with over six years of history working with schools to keep classrooms safe, we advocate a lockdown procedure which involves locking doors and quickly covering classroom windows. We also strongly advise against alternative methods of protecting students (such as teaching kids to attack intruders).


Instead, we think parents need to help younger children understand the importance of drills, handling kids’ questions and anxiety about school safety (as well as the likelihood of school shooting occurrences) with open conversations to allay their fears.


There are some simple steps parents can take to help children better understand school safety. The first is to learn about the safety drills being held in schools and understand the procedures. Not all schools share the same steps for school safety and security, and different situations sometimes require different procedures to be implemented (which requires talking to your child’s school about any questions you might have).
• The most important thing is to find out what your children know about lockdown drills. Ask if they know what these drills are and ask if they know what to do in the event of an emergency such as an active-shooter threat (explaining what an active-shooter is).
• If they haven’t taken part in a drill yet, talk about what they might experience during a lockdown drill so there are no surprises, and they know what to expect.
• Reassure your children that these drills, like fire drills, are just to practice how to stay safe in the extremely unlikely event that someone dangerous enters the school.
• If participating in school lockdown drills triggers any anxiety in your children about scary news events like the Sandy Hook shootings, talk to them to find out what they are thinking, what they may or may not know, and what they are afraid of or worried about. Young children often have misconceptions about things they see and hear – as parents, we need to clear up any confusion they may have about school shootings or lockdown drills.


For their part, schools work with local law enforcement agencies and school safety experts on evaluating safety procedures to make sure they have all the elements needed to protect kids in the event of a dangerous emergency. If you learn that they do not have a plan, they should work to have one put in place immediately.


Schools have a responsibility to keep our children safe, but we as parents share that responsibility in helping to allay our children’s fears. We need to work together with educators to keep kids safe.