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TELL US: Should Schoolkids be Trained to Defend Against an Armed Attack?

New training techniques are being questioned that call for students to able to actively defend against a Columbine-style attack. What do you think?

The list of shooter attacks on high schools and colleges and universities is way too long.

One result: a new approach to training schoolkids how to act in such circumstances. As NPR headlined its story last month about the technique: "to survive a shooting, students learn how to fight back."

The essence of the new drill for students is: alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate. Or, ALICE.

What's new there? The verb "counter."

Proponents of the new approach say there have been too many attacks for students not to be trained in how to more actively defend themselves.

Others, especially some parents, ask: does that make sense to expect kids and teens to be able to make such hair-raising, possible life-risking decisions?

There is controversy, now that that the training is coming to Massachusetts. The Boston Globe reports that, on Nov. 14, the Massachusetts Juvenile Police Officers' Association will host ALICE training with mostly police and school officials from places including Canton, Concord, Dedham, Framingham, Franklin, New Bedford, Wellesley, West­borough, Winchester, and also from New Hampshire and ­Connecticut.

This is an important new approach to find out about and think through: should schoolkids learn to more actively defend themselves in armed attacks? Or is that asking for even more trouble and unfair to the students? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

Concerned Parent November 10, 2012 at 08:46 PM
How about starting with teachers and administrators? Why not let trained school personnel and / or parents who hold a License to Carry Firearms in Massachusetts be able to have a concealed firearm on school grounds (currently a felony in this state). This might be a better first step; it also would provide a measure of uncertainty to someone bent on harming others knowing that schools are no longer "gun free zones" (except of course for criminals).
YiayiaOnline November 11, 2012 at 01:23 AM
No training and awareness can be a bad thing. They should also be trained as to when defending themselves might be effective and when to not try to be heroes.
Rosemary Baglio November 11, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Yes, it should be part of the curriculum, along with general self-defense and anti-bullying. Normalizing this sends the message that its ok to defend yourself and others from bullies (and school shooter(s) are nothing more than glorified bullies going out with a BANG, taking others along). From recent history we've seen that it was when average citizens made a move to defend rather than wait on the discretion of crazies with weapons, that they stood any chance of survival at all. Proactive measures to detect and help those youth most at risk must be implemented as well, with steps in place to place into protective custody anybody seen as an imminent danger. With social media these kids usually talk before they strike, and those tweets and fb posts should be taken very seriously. Any child or staff who feels unsafe should have a way to alert and activate a response team immediately. It's everybody's responsibility to keep our kids and teachers safe, and it will take everybody exercising their responsibility to make it so.
David Chase November 12, 2012 at 05:48 AM
I think this is boneheaded. How deadly are these "shooter attacks", compared to all the much more common ways that kids are harmed? Focus on real dangers that kids might actually encounter, and not scary stuff that gets news coverage out of all proportion to actual harm. For example, car crashes are far more dangerous; a solid focus on always wearing safety restraints and never (ever) getting into a car with a drunk driver is likely to save far more lives. Doing a better job of keeping kids from getting addicted to cigarettes would probably, in time, result in even more lives saved; it would not make much of a difference to deaths during the teenage years, but in time it would prevent a much larger number of early deaths from smoking-related diseases.
Earnhardt November 12, 2012 at 01:31 PM
The schools are already doing a good job dealing with bullies and teaching kids what they need to know about it. The danger of this happening is low, it should be discussed and talked about, but getting to the self- defense part is a bit much. David Chase is right, Teaching kids about impaired driving and drugs/ cigarettes will eventually lead to a drop in those types of deaths. I see kids smoking every day that are probably 15 years old. It may be too late for them, But if you start in first grade, it will make a difference.
Curtis Lavarello November 12, 2012 at 03:08 PM
The ALICE Training ought to be a huge red flag for schools, especially in the liability arena. While much of what is contained in the ALICE training is already in use by a great many schools across the nation, the often not mentioned part of the training that draws the most controversy is the part that involves about an hour-long part on teaching the students to engage in a coordinated, times attack on an armed intruder in the classroom. As a 25+ Year Law Enforcement Executive and National Speaker on School Safety, law enforcement agencies train for weeks and months on coordinated, timed response attacks to armed suspects, and now in less then an hour we are going to show a group of 7th graders how to attack a gunman? This also implies that every person who enters a classroom armed is going to kill students Columbine style, which school safety experts know is simply not the case. In many cases where an armed intruder entered a classroom, the intruder has left without firing the weapon. Has 4-5 students tried to attack the armed person, the results may have been much different. Again, parents should be very concerned over this training being taught to their child and the school itself should absolutely review this training tactic for students with both the legal staff and insurance carrier as both may wisely decline.
Susan Keeley November 12, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Wow, this is just a sad indictment of life in the USofA. We have so thoroughly failed our children that we're now going to train them to defend themselves in an armed attack? At what age is it appropriate to begin "training" a child to defend him- or herself against people with personal armories and a mission to get themselves noticed? You're 5, off to school now, good luck to ya! If anything bad happens it's your own job to defend yourself; not that of the grown-ups in charge of your world. No, it's not scary to learn how to do this. You won't have nightmares or panic attacks about going to school at all. You certainly won't develop any trust issues with the authority figures in your life who are telling you they might not be there for you when it really matters. Meanwhile, you're not allowed to have Santa in the classrooms anymore. And we'll teach you how to "counter" a school shooter but we sure as heck won't teach you about your own sexuality because that's too dangerous. We are one seriously screwed up culture!!!
Robert Fucci (Editor) November 12, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Folks ... no swearing of any kind please ... even if you are using @&$ in place of letters. You can make your point with more civilized language.
Concerned Parent November 12, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Unrealistic liability concerns are a factor in the downward spiral of this country - from investment decisions in new small businesses, to hiring & firing of employees, and now apparently to the safety of our children vs the liability of a school district. Are you seriously stating that its OK not to provide even limited training to have students protect themselves if it means potential liability to the school??? So a few dead kids are acceptable as long as no culpability can be assigned to the school district...... As the saying goes "when seconds count, law enforcement is only minutes away". Let's be proactive instead of reactive. Doing nothing certainly will not increase anyone's potential for surviving such an incident - doing something just might.

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