‘Lockdown’ vs. ‘Silent Safety Drill’: The School Security Language Debate

‘Lockdown’ vs. ‘Silent Safety Drill’: The School Security Language Debate

Methuen Schools – Methuen, MA

School districts nationwide have enlisted a battalion of training programs and technologies, from standardized training procedures like the ALICE protocol (alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate) to disturbing novelties like a child-sized bulletproof backpack. And since Massachusetts issued a task force report in July calling for renewed school security measures and drills, districts here, like Methuen, are in a scramble to keep up. American students have been doing drills for decades: fire drills, tornado drills, and in the 1950s, “duck and cover” nuclear safety drills. But in recent years, we’ve started preparing students for the possibility of actual combat on school grounds. The ALICE protocols, designed by a former SWAT officer after the Columbine attacks, rely not just on that police-style language, but on a deliberately blunt way of talking about what happens during an attack, at least for older kids. (ALICE dials back on terms like “active shooter” in materials for young children—which include, for example, books like, “I’m Not Scared…I’m Prepared!”) In an ALICE training video made this spring by Waltham High students to be screened in Waltham middle and high schools, an ominous voice describes students’ options: “If you decide to counter the aggressor’s attack, you may be able to distract and disrupt the aggressor’s plan…and may be even able to disarm and subdue the aggressor until police arrive.” Read more

November 30th, 2014|