After the shootings at schools, particularly Columbine, school boards and Departments of Education in both Canada and the United States have taken steps to ensure the safety of their students. One procedure used is called "lockdown". As a person that has been involved in the education system for many years, I have seen lockdown practices in action. Classroom doors are locked, lights are turned off, curtains are closed, door windows are covered and students "hide" in the corners of their classrooms in an attempt to prevent a potentially violent offender from attacking them.
Back in 2010, Greg Crane, owner of Response Options, promoted his theory on how schools should protect students in a presentation to the Ohio School Boards Association entitled "Enhancing lockdown strategies". The 2007 booklet intended for school staff members opens with the line "....We create second chances - Surviving the Active Shooter".
After citing statistics from several school shootings, here is a direct quote (errors included) from the booklet:
"Almost all of these victims died either acting passively, or while complying with bad guy's demands. Yet in today's mainstream school safety procedures, we tell our staffs and students to stay behind the locked door until help arrives, and/or comply with demands and that's as far as the training goes. But what if there is no locked door and compliance is just getting people shot? What's the mainstream advice now? Silence."
Mr. Crane's booklet then goes on to state that researchers estimate that between 100,000 and 250,000 guns come into United States schools every day and that there were 515 victims of life-threatening attacks in schools between 1992 and 2004.
Mr. Crane states that lockdowns do not work, largely because there are many targets that offer no resistance to a shooter because they are told to be "static" (i.e. cower in the corner of a classroom).
What solution does Mr. Crane offer?
He proposes the A.L.i.C.E. plan, an acronym that stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate. Let's take a closer look at the Counter part of the proposed solution as quoted from his booklet:
"The Bad Guy has come to your school with a plan: To hurt as many people as possible in the time afforded him. He is under the belief that either everyone is going to do nothing to counter his plan, or they will do exactly as he instructs because today he is in-charge. By engaging in ACTIONS, that do not fall into line with his expectations, we will cause hi to commit mental functions to this new dynamic he's facing. This will cause hesitation, which equates to time."
What ACTIONS does Mr. Crane suggest?
"Our goal is to cause sensory overload on behalf of the Bad Guy. We want him to see things he did not plan to see, hear things he did not plan to hear, and feel things he did not plan to feel. The simple act of throwing any object at a person's face causes an instinctual reaction- protect the head. Shooting is a physical skill. It requires certain acts to done competently...Distractions are proven tactics used to gain the element of surprise or confuse the opponent, both good things for staff and students encountering an attack."
That's an interesting concept. The classrooms that I have spent thousands of hours in are loaded with a plethora of "missiles" that could be used against a "Bad Guy"; pencils, erasers, crayons, smart board markers and erasers, staplers etcetera ad infinitum.
Ask yourself, if you were facing this in a confined space...
...would you be willing to defend yourself by distracting the shooter with classroom supplies?
Perhaps there is another solution that doesn't involve teachers and students having to defend themselves with pens and pencils.