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How do school shooting lockdown drills effect your child?

UPDATE: Reported attempted kidnapping at school a misunderstanding, police say
Posted at 2:55 PM, Sep 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-03 17:55:01-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — September is Emergency Preparedness Month. Schools across the valley will be holding drills now and throughout the year, to make sure students are safe in every scenario, including school shootings. But is it too much? In our Raising The Bar report, we look at what effect these drills have on our children.

"School shootings concern me. These are random events that can happen anywhere," says valley mom Beth Ophir.

It's a reality she says can't be avoided. So she's not afraid to discuss it with her kids, Arianna and Ethan. These 16-year-olds say shooting scenarios are something their school takes seriously.

"I think our school does a really good job of preparing us. I personally feel prepared if one of these attacks were to happen," says Ethan.

"We do have hard lockdowns at our school, where all of us have to get along one wall, avoid all the windows, all the doors so no one can see us if they're trying to look into a classroom. That's practiced at least monthly," says Arianna.

The Clark County School District tells 13 Action News: each school does five lockdown drills throughout the school year, not including additional fire and earthquake drills. It's up to each individual school to decide whether to alert students and teachers ahead of time, although a notice is recommended.

"You have to be prepared the best way possible. You do have to expose students to real life scenarios," says Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Mendi Baron, CEO and founder of Ignite Teen Treatment.

He says while a shooter drill is important, he does have concerns if participants aren't warned ahead of time.

"When you put students and teachers in a scenario where they're not sure if it's a life or death situation, then your traumatizing them in the exact same way as their traumatized if they were in a real shooting," says Baron.

He says that comes with serious consequences.

"Can exasperate anxieties that already exist, can cause emotional upheaval, can cause nightmares," says Baron.

But don't forget the teachers. The concerns are just as great for school staff.

"They have to think not just myself, but how do I save these kids? What do I do next? And when you put teachers in this environment and you create that trauma you can get things like PTSD," says Baron.

So it's important teachers and students are provided with therapeutic support from school counselors. But the discussion should also extend beyond the school grounds.

"Do parents have a role in preparing their kids for active shooting training in schools?" says Todd Quinones. "I would say they do," says Baron.

He says it's important for parents to check in with their kids about these lockdown drills.

"How was it? What took place? The specific details are not as important as, how was the experience for you?" says Baron.

In the end, Baron says keep the lines of communication open, because we can't deny these things are happening. Beth couldn't agree more.

"The reality is you could put your head in the sand. But events are still going to happen. Most every day kids go to school and you can't protect them all the time," says Beth.

That's why, even with regular school drills, she likes to remind her kids to be alert.

"Be aware of their surroundings. Say something if they see something funny. Escape the situation," says Beth.

It's a warning that Arianna hears loud and clear.

"Kids can die. Their futures are taken away from them in a snap. In one gunshot it can be taken away. I think that's the reason why procedures need to be evaluated, teachers need to enforce the rules more and these drills need to happen more," says Arianna.

What is Raising The Bar?

Together with parents, educators, business and community leaders, 13 Action News will lead the discussion on improving education in Southern Nevada. We will connect families with solutions that empower our community to build a foundation for a successful future. If you have a story idea, email us at raisingthebar@ktnv.com.