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Don’t Duck and Cover

Via NIT, comes this interesting bit on a DARE video that teaches kids what to do in the event of a school shooting. Well, interesting once you get past the anti-gun hysteria. Says Mack:

Yesterday I picked up the kids, and usually we recap their day. My 11 yr old announced that they had DARE again at the school, and I assumed it was the usual “war on drugs” propaganda. (Which, I should say, I’m thankful for, except when they encourage children to report their parents for marijuana possession, though I haven’t heard about that happening locally.) To my surprise and shock, yesterday’s lesson was “what to do in the event of a school shooting.” Apparently, they covered a wide variety of possible scenarios, and the lesson included a video that made my 11 yr old quite uneasy. They were told what to do if caught in the hallway, a classroom, or even a restroom. (bathroom self defense tactics included the advice to spread liquid soap on the floor by the entrance, so the shooter would slip, giving you time to escape. ) They were taught the difference between “cover” and “concealment.” I mean it was pretty thorough. Later in the day, I overheard her explaining to her 9 yr old brother that a car is good cover, but you should hide behind the front tire. He asked “why the front?”, and she replied that the engine added additional protection from stray or intended bullets.

I would be curious to see the video. If anyone has any info on it, let me know. Many times, school programs are stupid when it comes to some issues. And I hope that this one teaches the right things. I am glad that they’re teaching concealment v. cover. Concealment is only useful to the extent it buys you time to get out. Of course, my thoughts on what to do are simple and straightforward and based on the following assumptions:

  • The school shooter has committed to being killed.
  • The police will be no help because they will either 1) arrive too late or 2) if they arrive before it’s over, they will merely secure and contain the area and not let anyone in or out. That is what they did at Columbine with the I’m Going Home Tonight mentality they train cops with these days. We are seeing that change, though.
  • Human beings are pre-programmed to a fight or flight response. We are, it’s true. Compliance and passivity toward violence is a learned trait.
  • Active resistance (preferably armed, though that’s not an option at school or for kids) has been shown to have greater success at reducing injury than compliance and passiveness.
  • That said, here’s what I’ll teach my kids:

  • Get out. Run fast and keep moving to the nearest door or open window. Do not run a straight line relative to the position of the shooter. A moving target is harder to hit.
  • Avoid the being in the general area of the shooting. Do not go toward the noise. Stay away.
  • Do not hole up and hide in a group. Fight the urge to feel that there is safety in numbers. There are sitting ducks in numbers when they hide.
  • Hiding is only useful to the extent that it buys you time to get out.
  • Many things in a school can be used as a weapon, such as books, brooms, pens, pencils, etc. Get one if possible and expedient because:
  • Though you’ll do your best to get out and avoid conflict, you may not have a choice but to come face to face with the psychopath. If that happens, do not beg. Do not comply. Do not placate. Fight and fight with all you have. And only fight long enough to get away. Lone gunmen tend to not like resistance. They want easy, compliant targets. If you’re not one, they likely have little interest in a confrontation. Throw books, stab with pencils, etc.
  • Remember: If you attack, you could die. If you cower under a desk, you will die unless the nutjob runs out of ammo before getting to you.
  • Disregard any instructions from school officials or police to the contrary.
  • If you have any advice, post it in comments.

    30 Responses to “Don’t Duck and Cover”

    1. Drake Says:

      If the little ones could be taught to remember to serpentine, that would help with point one. Zig-zag

    2. Heartless Libertarian Says:

      Re: the cops and “secure & contain”-they are doing much better. In both the Tacoma Mall and Utah mall shootings, as soon as the responding officers had a quorum (not sure if it was 3 or 4), they went in looking for the shooter. It’s the “active shooter drill” that they changed to after Columbine.

      That actually requires a good bit of training to be able to do effectively: to be able to form a relatively cohesive/coherent team from 4 random officers, on the fly. Requires every officer to know the responsibilities of every position in the ‘stack.’

      My unit teaches MOUT drills, and that isn’t easy.

    3. Brutal Hugger Says:

      DARE is the youth propaganda organ of the war on drugs. Like most overblown propaganda efforts, it’s more laughable than effective. Lots of studies have been done, and nobody can find any evidence that kids who do DARE are any less likely to drink and drug than kids who don’t. In at least one instance, studies have found that kids who DARE are *more* likely to use drugs.

      I guess having a cop (i.e. a discredited, irrational, mistrusted, arbitrary authority figure) blow smoke about how crack is instantly addictive upon the tiniest first dose (this is actually what DARE tried to convince me of) is ineffective at best and enticing at worst.

    4. Ron W Says:

      The plan should be to do what has worked in Israel where, once upon a time, terrorists preyed upon children in schools. Now principals and teachers are armed with semi-auto self defense weapons and those school shootings stopped. Murderers, especially those intnet on the mass tuype, go where there are many captive unarmed victims and officaldom seems intent on keeping it that way for our schools and only giving pacifist advice.

    5. Fodder Says:

      Escape tactics. In most schools, most rooms have two exits only. One door and window(s). The window(s) may be the fastest way out of the building and away from the danger (whatever it is, killers, fire, mad dogs and Englishmen, etc).

      Many modern buildings have windows that do not open. Many older buildings have windows that are stuck closed and kids in particular may not be strong enough to open them fast.

      Teaching kids (and I’ve done this with co-workers also) to look around ahead of time for things that can be used to smash open a window quickly. Chairs, heavy objects (fire extinquisers are common), computer monitors, etc.

      Then throw anything available (coats, fire blanket, etc.) over the bottom of the window and scramble out. But waist no time looking to cover the broken glass. If something is not readily available, you need to go out the window anyway. A chair as a step to the window sill means only your shoes deal with broken glass.

      Depending on the kids age, I’ve found it best to to frame the drill in context of something scary and dangerous and inanimate, like a fire, and then mention it can be used in any emergency to get the hell out of Dodge.

    6. Ron Says:

      Wow, they are teaching the difference between cover and concealment in school. That is cool.

      One thing I’d add to your list of things to teach. Tell your kids to figure out escape routes in advance.

      They should look around the classroom and be aware of where they can go if there is a shooter in the hall.

      They also should be aware of the exits they can’t used on a normal basis but could in an emergency. Mostly I’m thinking of doors with fire alarms on them, but this could include windows.

    7. Ron W Says:

      Hopefully children that manage to escape their captivity with an inside killer won’t be shot by the police/SWAT team since they would have violated the lock-down.

    8. David Says:

      Cars are not good cover, they are concealment…too many people watch it on TV cop shows and get conditioned I guess…

    9. Sailorcurt Says:

      I’m sure you’ve thought of this, but it’s never too early to get your kids into Karate or other combat training.

      I’m not a huge advocate of Martial Arts per se because too many people are overconfident and believe that their mediocre mastery of mediocre training makes them bulletproof, knifeproof, bikerproof, etc.

      But if you find an instructor with the right mindset and work yourself to instill the proper attitude in your children about it, some first hand sparring experience can be invaluable in instilling the confidence, ability and will to actually fight back rather than just cower in fear with the rest of the sheep.

    10. _Jon Says:

      Psycho’s never run out of ammo.
      These events aren’t “random” or “spontaneous” to them.
      They are thoroughly and meticulously planned.
      They are fervently fantasized about – every detail, from the sound of their boots in the hallway to the flow of blood from their victims is “pre-recorded” in their heads.

      In these situations we (and/or our children) need to realize this *isn’t* random – it’s planned.

      Ironically, most state laws require rooms that can hold 20 or more people to have two exit doors. Yet most public buildings are note required to honor those building codes. Just like they don’t have to honor handicapped access building codes.

      I’ve worked with a lot of kids who have done special projects for DARE, most don’t do drugs, all know schoolmates who do, and some know their parents do drugs.

      My recommendation is culled from a speech by a child therapist – she called it the “later” theory. Basically, nobody likes to be told “no”. With children in line at the grocery store check out lane howling for a piece of candy, “no” doesn’t work as well as “later”. “Later” may actually be “never”, but it settles the immediate problem.

      Extending the idea to kids and drugs, we’ve developed a process of explaining that the decision to try or use drugs is an adult decision – just like sex, abortion, and marriage. By explaining to the kids that they shouldn’t do drugs until they are old enough to make adult decisions, you’ve essentially used the “later” process.

      In many cases, you aren’t telling the kid how to live their life – you are honoring their decision making process – and you’ve given them a tool to use against peer pressure. By teaching them to say “later” to their peers who may pressure them, you’ve given them a way to say “no” that is defensible. I’ve taught many kids to say “Some other time” when passed a joint. It is very effective.

    11. Alcibiades Says:

      If they are in a group, shouldn’t they attack as a group? Twenty against 1 or 2 is a lot better than one-on-one. And it might improve the chances of everyone’s individual survival.

    12. SayUncle Says:

      I concur. but don’t hide in groups.

    13. Kristopher Says:

      Don’t send kids to public schools.

    14. Jeff Shultz Says:

      Yes, Kristopher, going to a private school helped those Amish kids, didn’t it?

    15. El Duderino Says:

      David is right, cars make poor cover, unless it’s a ’68 Chrysler Imperial, but what are the odds of one of those being handy in a pinch? I can tell you from experience that heavy handgun rounds, i.e 10mm, .44 magnum, go through cars remarkably well and rifle ammo, excepting 5.56 mm, will easily pierce doors, hood, fenders and even engines.
      No one plan or philosophy is fool proof. Depending on the age and abilities of the students in question, cower, cover, fight and flight all have their risks and benefits. Sad to say, it would be near impossible to harden schools against a determined, well armed, Beslan type attack. Until, of course, it happens. Then parents will demand a platoon of Rangers in each school. Just pray it doesn’t happen in your kid’s school.
      As far as the kids shooting each other, I think our best weapon is vigilance and early intervention. Kids need to keep an eye on each other and let parents and staff know if one of their own is likely to snap in a violent way.

    16. Mutinousdoug Says:

      Last year i watched a video of some dorks shooting at a tire mounted on an aluminum wheel. When struck by the rifle bullet the wheel shattered into at least several chunks, one of which came back at the shooters (some 40-50yds away) with enough force to kick up clouds of dust as it bounced past them.
      That said, I’d use a car for cover if nothing better was available as the shooters rounds would likely strike the far side tire first.

    17. PawPaw Says:

      Actually, as a school resource officer, I know that a lot has changed over the past several years with respect to school shootings. In my local area we have armed cops in every school. As officers, we’re taught to:

      1. Call it in. Get the cavalry on the way.
      2. Confront the shooter by placing fire on him. Take his focus off the kids.

      In the event of a shooting at my school, by the time the backup gets there, I expect that there will be one of three possible scenarios for SWAT to deal with.

      1. I’ve killed the bastard and I’ll be able to point to the body.
      2. He’ll have killed me, but a lot of kids will have escaped.
      3. I’ll have him hemmed up in a room by himself and the SWAT guys can do their thing.

      This is something I think about every day, that I’ve gamed and planned. I know the distances from the entrance doors the room doors, the lengths of the hallways and available cover and concealment.

      If your local area doesn’t have resource officers, start lobbying for it now. We had some resistance when we began the program, but now everyone admits it is a resounding success. I’ve had numerous teachers tell me that they were opposed to the program at the beginning, but that now they wouldn’t work in a school without a resource officer.

      With a resource officer available, no one needs call the cops. We’re already there.

    18. Crusty Says:

      school resource officer“. I like that title. It distances the truth from the lefties.

      They probably like it too.

    19. Mike D. Says:

      PawPaw, thank you for the insight into your role as “school resource officer.” It sounds like an excellent program and that you’re doing a fine job.

      The only thing I’d add to your mental preparation is scenario 4, which is any of the first 3 with the addition of you having killed or wounded a student.

      I raise the issue because for sure the media, politicians, and other assorted fools have before and will in the event.

      You’re trained, competent, and equipped, but you’re also being asked to perform to perfection in the most stressful environment imagineable. The odds are way in your favor that it won’t happen, but the effect of that outcome on you, your family, the victim’s family, your school, department, and city justify making sure all are as prepared as possible. I’m not telling you anything new, I hope.

      Admirable. Thanks for doing the job.

    20. megath Says:

      While all of this training is no doubt valuable, what the hell does it have to do with drug abuse and awareness?

      The name of the program should be changed: Police Training for Schools.

    21. jimmyb Says:

      Kristopher may, perhaps, have the best advice of all…

    22. retro Says:

      I also agree with Kristopher. Don’t send your kids to public schools. Institutes of Failure.

    23. Suzi Says:

      Thanks, PawPaw for your thoughtfulness in preparing for this scenario. If it were to happen to my kids, I’d want someone like you to be the guy there to help them.

      I homeschool, so the likelihood of them being “in school” is small. But one of them takes math at a church and the other is at the college for dual credit, so it’s possible. If we’re at home, I’ll be the resource person keeping them safe.

      Actually thinking through all their day, in regards to their school, will help. Can they get out of the back if they’re in line in the cafeteria? If they’re in the hall between class A and class B, where is the closest exit? Which windows open easily? Can they lift the chairs? If they have thought through what they could do, they’ll be safer if they have to do it. Help them think it through.

      One big way to help them is to go through this planning for at home. If they’re in the kitchen, where do they go? Etc. Then once yall’ve gone through the home planning, you can ask them the school questions.

    24. My Own Thoughts » What should you do in school if you’re attacked? Says:

      […] That’s the discussion at Says Uncle. His child was introduced to the idea at school. YEAH for the school! There are many good ideas, including ones in the comments. […]

    25. serfer62 Says:

      A car is cover only, use it to evade further…

    26. goddessoftheclassroom Says:

      First, not are public schools are failures. People need to attend school board neetings, look at test scores, and review curricula to determine whether theirs are or not.

      I am lucky to work in an outstanding (by all standards) school district. I also keep a cricket bat by my desk in case of emergency. I would glady go through certification training if I were allowed to have a handgun in school.

    27. Porkopolis Says:

      Here’s a strategy that will complement going out a window:

      * Lock the door to the classroom and stack as many chairs as possible in front of the door making a barrier.

      * If necessary, Use clothing items tied together to make make a rope/ladder.

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