Dear Superintendent Galdston and School Committee,
I read with alarm in Watertown News that our schools are planning to conduct lockdown/ALICE/active shooter drills. Please reconsider this decision. I understand that there have been issues with false alarms, but it is extremely unclear how past false alarms should have any effect on whether we conduct these terrifying and dubiously effective drills. There is zero research to suggest that these drills do anything other than terrify students. In fact, your own announcement said “Sometimes it is too frightening for children,” and that you had decided not to do ALICE drills at elementary schools in the last few years for that reason. That decision was right, and I urge you to return to it.
Everytown for Gun Safety conducted a research review and determined that even though most schools do these drills, “there is almost no research affirming the value of these drills for preventing school shootings or protecting the school community when shootings do occur.” However, there is solid evidence that “Active shooter drills in schools are associated with increases in depression (39%), stress and anxiety (42%), and physiological health problems (23%).” These guys are not soft on school shootings! I’m sure that if they concluded these drills helped, they would be advocating them.
Proceeding with this plan to conduct lockdown/ALICE/active shooter drills will do nothing but scare our students, many of whom are already emotionally conditioned by the pandemic into a heightened state of anxiety, falsely expecting danger around every corner. School should be a place where kids can feel safe. Objectively, the schools are very safe – risk of violent incidents is extremely low, and Massachusetts schools are especially safe because of the hard work of our legislature and police passing and enforcing our strongest-in-the-nation gun laws. We should avoid doing anything that falsely convinces our students that they are not safe at school.
I urge you to reconsider this decision.