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Impact of Policy on Children
August 31, 2020

Active Shooter Safety Drills and US Students—Should We Take a Step Back?

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Hospital Medicine, University of Colorado Anschutz School of Medicine, Aurora
JAMA Pediatr. Published online August 31, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.2592

Last spring, as I was wrapping up my day on the medical wards, I noticed the email from my son’s daycare differed from the typical communication that includes a playground picture and a reminder to bring more diapers. At the recommendation of the Colorado Department of Public Safety, he was experiencing his first lockdown drill in response to a firearm threat in the community. He was just under 2 years of age.

This daycare was 1 of thousands of US schools that are now routinely engaging in such drills, many of which are mandated at the district or state level and subsidized by state or federal grants. The National Center for Education Statistics estimates that 92% of public schools have written plans for the event of an active shooter, and 95% performed lockdown drills during the 2015 to 2016 academic year.1 This was partially driven by a multibillion-dollar cottage industry that seeks to prepare schools, businesses, and places of worship using active shooter scenarios.

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