School shootings are no longer uncommon. During the first half of 2018, there were 23 school shootings in the United States and 27 children have died. Parents can no longer take school safety for granted, while educators and school administrators are faced with the challenge of how best to respond to the reality of this level of violence in schools.
Opposing Views: Run. Hide. Fight.
If you find yourself in an active shooter situation, follow these steps:
- Be aware of your nearest exits and other exits in your vicinity. Run immediately to the nearest available exit and continue to the exterior of the building or affected area. When you are safe, call 911 and inform them of the situation, location, and any details you can recall.
- If running is not an option, hide. Hide in a low- to no-visibility area (under a desk and/or in a windowless conference space). Do not hide in groups. Silence any electronic devices you have on your person.
- As a last resort, fight. Chairs, pens, scissors, laptops and PC monitors, and other school equipment can be used as weapons. Fight aggressively.
Q: Does the “run, hide, fight” approach really work?
A: The “run, hide, fight” model of response is the official recommended response of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). However, this model of response does have its critics, who argue that it does not address the fact that many individuals tend to “freeze up” in crisis situations. Critics of “run, hide, fight” have also argued that this model of response encourages too much passivity and is based on a linear model of thinking that does not always apply in high-stress, violent situations.
Regardless of your thoughts on the matter, we encourage our readers to prioritize their own safety first and foremost, to help others when possible, and to both alert and stay out of the way of the professional first responders, the police, fire, and other emergency departments.
What can managers do?
While these types of tragedies are often hard to predict – the perpetrator may have no prior criminal history and no reported mental health concerns – as leaders, we encourage you to be mindful of behaviors such as:
- Fascination with acts of violence
- Extreme interest in or obsession with weapons
- Holding grudges
- Displays of unwarranted anger
- Serious family or financial problems
- Demonstrated lack of concern for the safety and well-being of others
As managers, be vigilant about investigating the following types of reports or findings in the school setting:
- “Accidentally” bringing weapons on school grounds. In these times, you do need to be concerned about the student who “forgot” about the knife or other type of weapon in their backpack. This type of behavior can be act of practicing violence – testing the limits of security on campus and to see how aggressively the school responds to the student’s actions.
- Expressions of sympathy for perpetrators of school shootings or other acts of violence, and/or a lack of empathy for victims. Expressing relatability with or sympathetic thoughts for a school shooter paired with an apparent lack of empathy for the victims of school shootings can be a red flag.
- Threats of violence against others or the school. Often these threats can occur on social media, either to a group of people or private messages sent to a single individual. When such a threat is brought to your attention, alert the police immediately and prohibit the student who made the threat from being on school grounds until investigations are concluded.
How Ulliance can help
If you have been involved in or a witness to acts of violence, it may be helpful to speak with a professional about your experience.
Even if no violence occurred but a threat was made, it is completely normal if you feel a certain level of distress. Sometimes talking through these reactions can help alleviate the stress.
This is what the Life Advisor Employee Assistance Program® is for – free, confidential assistance for these types of situations and any other work-life issue.
Contact Ulliance for more information on how to put a plan in place for your school or business.