Lenore Skenazy has another good article in Reason. It refers to a realistic live shooter drill at the East Side Elementary School in Worland, Wyoming. Here’s the article’s conclusion. During the drill, a young girl named Aubrey began to fear she would die:
Aubrey did see her folks again, and her mom—along with many other parents—was revolted by the pointless terror. As another angry mom pointed out: If this was really supposed to teach kids a lesson, why teach them to huddle en masse in an open field? Doesn’t that make them easy targets?
The idea that students need a drill this realistic doesn’t make any sense. We don’t set the bathroom on fire before a fire drill. This is just adults acting out some sick hero fantasy—and making kids very miserable in the process.
Credit goes to Skenazy for highlighting these drills, along with other things adults do to scare children. I would add, though, that these drills are not pointless. Their point is to scare children, and to prepare them for life in a police state. The lockdowns, security checks, metal detectors, tracking chips in identification cards, invasions by SWAT teams with weapons, drills so realistic they make children shake, zero tolerance for every imaginable pill and plastic toy that’s deemed a hazard, calling the police for minor infractions of a multitude of detailed rules, admonishments, regimentation: all of these create the idea that the world is dangerous, and that people in authority can meet these dangers if you let them take and keep control.
One might say that calling children to huddle en masse in an open field is a bad idea if you want to protect them from a gunman, but actual safety is not the point. Creating an atmosphere where you are constantly on edge is the point. Making edgy, scared youngsters accustomed to accepting orders from uniformed authorities who carry weapons is the point. Few people think the treatment they receive at border control checkpoints actually keeps them safe. The checkpoints sure remind you who is in charge, though.
The measures listed above, which create an atmosphere of fear and control in our schools, come from articles in Reason. Lenore Skenazy cites many of them in her articles. She shows how state and community efforts to keep children safe from imagined dangers is a bad tradeoff, because parents and children lose so much freedom as a result. I hesitate to say that some mastermind in the school bureaucracy plans all these security measures with the aim of obedience to state security in mind. I’ll say this much: we have lived with these security measures – and the fear they create in our schools – long enough to know the outcomes we seek and the tradeoffs involved. These are not benign measures, and we know it.
So we should not misunderstand what is happening in our neighborhood schools. The unannounced, realistic terror drills that make little children shake with fear do not find justification because they prepare us to deal with random gunmen who roam our neighborhoods. Perhaps they make some school administrators feel safe. I will guess that school administrators do not create these drills themselves, nor do they request that people dressed to look like gunmen come to visit their schools. My guess is that the idea for these drills originates with the state security apparatus outside the schools. The school principals I know would never visit these horrors on the children they lead and care for.
Here’s a quotation from Wakashie County Sheriff Steve Rakness, who oversaw the drill:
“We identified some things we need to work on, but otherwise no problems whatsoever. I think they know what they need to do.”
Here’s a response from Amy Munoz, who sends her child to East Side Elementary:
“They took it to an extreme not to discuss this with parents and the community beforehand. It’s a slap in the face. They just think they can do whatever they want with our kids.”