School Lockdown Safety: How Kids Can Protect Themselves

Jacob steps into his classroom for the first time in seventh grade. He quickly looks around, sees that his assigned seat is in the middle of the room, and makes a fast decision. He asks to move to the back of the room by the windows.

Even though the classroom is on the second floor, Jacob makes this decision because there are no other entry or exit points to that space. He has the best chance to escape if he’s in the back. Even if the window doesn’t open, he can bash it in with a chair.

School lockdown safety often focuses its efforts on active shooters. Teachers lock doors, use metal straps or barriers, and hope for the best. Kids can help that process by understanding what their options are if the lockdown alarms sound.

Rule #1: Run Away from the Situation

The best option is to get away from a school campus immediately. Even if kids have a basic emergency cell phone, they can leave the building and call someone to pick them up. Keep moving away from the situation while staying in contact with a trusted adult.

Rule #2: Use All Your Tools

Thick textbooks stacked in a backpack can be nearly as effective as a ballistic plate as a self-defense tool. Use them as a shield if necessary, then teach kids to respond quickly when an assailant reaches for a new weapon or must reload. You don’t need to attack the attacker to be safe. Sprint out of the area, look for a new hiding spot, or exit the building.

Rule #3: Anything Is a Self-Defense Tool

Pencils can be stuck into eyes. Staplers can cause discomfort, especially when thrown at an attacker’s head. Even turning a table over to become a shield while looking for projectiles to throw is better than huddling in a corner.

Your kids take several items with them to school. Go through each item, showing them how it can be turned into a self-defense tool if someone tries to harm them.

Rule #4: No Actual Weapons at School

Most schools use a zero-tolerance policy for weapons or weapon-like objects. It can get out of hand sometimes, like when Josh Welsh was suspended for eating his Pop Tart because someone thought it looked like a gun. Welsh was 7 at the time, in 2013. Don’t encourage kids to take stun guns, pocket knives, or anything clearly identifiable as a weapon to the classroom.

Rule #5: Stay Aware of the Surroundings

People are imperfect, so mistakes are bound to happen. A door might not lock, or a window could be jammed closed. Talk to your kids about recognizing these obstacles to ensure everyone can stay safe if something unthinkable occurs.

School lockdown safety starts when districts implement enforceable actions and policies that teachers and administrators can follow. When those options aren’t available, it’s up to the students to ensure they come home safe at the end of the day.

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