A Cahokia, Illinois, mother of an elementary-aged girl is urging her daughter’s school to make changes after she claims an active shooter drill Wednesday left the girl traumatized and afraid, KMOV reported.
Apparently active shooter drills, like tornado and fire drills, are required at Illinois schools, but according to the girl’s mother, A’Lia Burrell didn’t realize that the drill wasn’t real.
“While we were under the computers, I uh started to pray,” the third-grader told reporters.
A’Lia’s mother, Jackie, says that “code red” drills like those conducted this week are a bit too extreme for youngsters and need to be toned down. She also feels that the school should inform parents of drills ahead of time to better prepare kids.
“With all the stuff going on now a days I understand they need drills, but there’s a better way to go about it,” Burrell said. “Now she doesn’t want to go to school and she’s scared. When I came walking in the door earlier she said, ‘I thought you were an intruder.’ That’s really affecting her right now.”
Burrell is also disturbed by what her daughter says a school resource officer told her during the drill.
“One of our school people said they are killing that way,” A’Lia said.
Reporters asked Cahokia Superintendent Art Ryan about this statement and, although he was not present for the drill, he spoke with the school’s principal who was.
“I talked to the principal and she was with the resource officer the whole time and there was not a statement of anything like that,” Ryan said.
Nonetheless, Ryan stands behind the intensity of the school’s drills.
“The kids need to be prepared for an extreme circumstance so maybe have the drill be a little on the extreme side doesn’t hurt,” Ryan said. “I do understand your concerns about the age of the children, I’d much rather your children be a little bit scared and alive, than not knowing what to do and end up being hurt.”
And although it seems these types of drills are new, in reality they’re not.
Mo Canady, Executive Director of the National Association of School Resource Officers told Guns.com that when he started working as an officer in schools back in 1998, they were already doing what they call lockdown or shelter in place drills, essentially what’s referred to today as active shooter drills.
However, Canady explains, “You can do lockdown drills in a way, in a manner in the school that’s not intimidating to the students… Certainly, I think most school administrators that do have a good sense of how to do it without frightening the kids, especially the younger kids.”
Canady also adds that training staff is essential to ensure that the drills are being handled properly.
“Those things have to be in place,” he concludes. “They save lives.”