Many schools have drills to teach students, administration and staff members how to react in hazardous situations. About three years ago, my high school had a false alarm for a fire within the building. In that moment, all people evacuated the building in a relatively organized manner because we all knew what to do when the fire alarm was triggered. Webster Central Schools seems to prepare all students, administration and staff well in regards to hazardous fire situations. However, as more and more violence occurs in our world, we must also learn how to adequately prepare ourselves for these situations as well.
Looking at the past, all 50 states in the U.S. have been subject to school shootings. This is a concerning fact to everyone because it proves that acts of violence can happen at any time, anywhere. While it is true that our school district requires lock down drills in order to practice hiding from a shooter, this tactic is only useful to prevent a shooter from locating us. Sadly, there is still the possibility that the shooter might find and confront us. What shall we do then? If the enemy is standing outside the classroom door, we become sitting ducks with no place to run. What shall we do when an armed attacker becomes aware of our location? What shall we do when the active shooter enters our classroom? Is there nothing left for us to do but pray? After the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, it has become painfully apparent that armed attacks are no longer an “If it happens…” scenario but a “When it happens…” scenario.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s guideline on responding to an active shooter says to run, hide and fight, as a last resort. We are currently taught how to hide in school, but running is not advised and fighting back is rarely even mentioned. How can we incorporate Homeland Security’s recommendations into our lives? I suggest that schools should have a defense class as a part of physical education. In theory, the class would specifically focus on how to physically defend yourself against an armed opponent. The defense class could be based on martial arts because it trains people how to defend themselves against physical threats. It would also be helpful to know how to use our surroundings if an attacker enters the school. If we have this knowledge during an attack, we would be able to quickly analyze our surroundings to see what could be used as possible protection, distractions or makeshift weapons to use against an attacker.
A class such as the one described would teach students knowledge that will be valuable and potentially life-saving. Defense classes teach lifelong skills that empower citizens to save themselves from dangerous situations wherever they are, not just in schools. It might take a great effort to put together a defense class for schools, but in the end, the knowledge attained by students will prevent unwanted violence from becoming a tragedy.