American Paranoia: ‘Shock And Awe’ Style ‘Active Shooter’ School Drills

Well at least they don’t involve the students.

Halfway, Oregon - photo by Paul Nelson

“View from HW 86 on the way to Halfway Oregon.” – photo by Paul Nelson

According to Dr. Maximillian Wachtel on PsychLaw Journal, “the average risk of a particular US student being shot at school in any given year” for any age group is 1 in 7.8 million. The risk of a student being shot and killed rises to 1 in 15 million.

With that in mind, I take you to Halfway, Oregon, where they take the fear associated with these rare events and add in a bit of real life drama (and panic).

Two masked men wearing hoodies and wielding handguns burst into the Pine Eagle Charter School in this tiny rural community on Friday. Students were at home for an in-service day, so the gunmen headed into a meeting room full of teachers and opened fire.

Someone figured out in a few seconds that the bullets were not drawing blood because they were blanks and the exercise was a drill, designed to test Pine Eagle’s preparation for an assault by “active shooters” who were, in reality, members of the school staff. But those few seconds left everybody plenty scared.

I would say so.

We would be much better off as a country if instead of investing time into how to react to isolated scenarios, we focused our efforts on giving children a world-class education. This worst-case, active-shooter preparedness is driven by understandable fear, but it’s not a reasoned response. And it’s certainly not a logical response. And there’s no studies being done to see if we are doing more damage to the collective mental psyche by scaring the crap out of people to make sure we are prepared “just in case.”

But even after telling us these events are rare, Dr. Wachtel ends his blog post with:

Even though your child probably won’t get shot, the chances of someone’s child getting shot at school in the next year is extremely high (around 85-90%).

We are internalizing the high probability that an event like this will happen in the near future, and assuming that we are next on the list. Sure, that’s possible, but is the “active shooter” drill at Pine Eagle Charter School a proper way to respond? Do we even need to prepare at all (beyond reasonable school safety guidelines)?

Do people ever stop to think just because something can happen it doesn’t mean it will happen? We are talking about lottery odds here. I’m beginning to think the information age is not making us smarter, it’s just making us more paranoid.

photo by Paul Nelson


AbsurdityHuman Interest

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