Is ALICE Training Really Safe?

Garrett Breen, Staff Writer

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According to data collected by STATISTA, the majority of teachers are not too worried about being a victim of a shooting. The nervousness of school staff does not reflect the level of urgency in the media. This is then reflected onto the students.

ALICE training has been implemented in over 4200 schools, but the question must be asked, is it really safe? In Alabama, Burns middle school  advised students to keep canned goods in their desks to throw at a potential gunman. After three hundred thousand dollars worth of medical bills, the Department of Homeland security shutdown there funding for the ALICE program in the state.

ALICE is indeed a program that teaches students to “take matters in their own hands” and physically attack an intruder if needed. Altough, any program that warrants students to physically attack an intruder screams liability issue when practiced in drills and preparation. Jerry Loghry from ERM Insurance stated, “Due to the many injuries that are being reported around the country, we anticipate considerable litigation against trainers, schools and law enforcement agencies who have been providing unsafe active shooter training programs”.

At Divine High school, the same injuries, anxiety, and harm could possibly result. Divine Child High student, Brandon Alvarado, commented, “during the ALICE training, I have seen multiple students trip on desks trying to sprint out of the classroom and I can only imagine how many students at other schools hurt themselves during ALICE drills”. The high demand of ALICE training comes with a price, as training in case of an intruder may cause more cons than pros. ALICE has placed a list of actions that shouldn’t take place during active shooter drills on their website, including the following safety measures:

Do not allow physical contact between participants
Take great care if using simulated weapons. No real weapons should be used in the training exercises.
Do not require anyone to exit through windows, move furniture or climb on furniture
Participants should stay on their feet or be seated (they should not leave the floor in any way)

In some schools across the country, many of ALICE’s rules are never mentioned or enforced during the training process. Without rules and regulations explicitly expressed to students, there is a larger risk of students getting injured and preparing incorrectly. At Divine Child, some students actually jumped out of the windows when teachers informed their students to run out of the building. This could turn into a larger problem if the issue persists because students have a greater chance of injuring themselves and or others.

Another flaw with the ALICE program is the lack of communication in what to do in a drill and real emergency. Students at Divine Child were jumping out of windows as they believed they were supposed to act as if the drill was real. The students were only told to sprint out of the building, but students were confused of what they were supposed to do. It would lower the risk of injury if the bulleted list above was communicated effectively and what not to do is made more clear to teachers and students.      

As found in when schools simulate mass shootings, one school in Texas performed a drill that staged students to act as if they were shot. One student from the school stated, “I saw the bodies of my fellow classmates lying lifeless and bloodied in my high school parking lot. One was visible through the broken windshield of an overturned Jeep. Four others were flung haphazardly across the concrete, each waiting for their turn on a stretcher”.

Although this was a staged attack, it caused trauma for many students and unneeded stress for the students and parents. “At some point, I stopped pretending and I started actually feeling afraid of what was happening,” Audrey White said one of the sole crash “survivors” from that drill that day. She continued, “Even though I knew it was fake, it still, in the moment, felt traumatizing”.

Many similar things are happening locally, including in Divine Child High School. Rob Puckett, the campus security guard, suggested that a police officer comes in the building and shoots empty rounds while the drill was happening to see how students would react to the realness of the event.

Whether you’re a fan of the “upgraded” active shooter drill or not, it is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Local law firm, Goldman & Associates, in Novi Michigan commented, “School lawsuits are fairly uncommon, but the trauma caused by over exaggerated drills are a serious issue and should be brought to a court of law”.

There needs to be a common ground where students can prepare to be effective if the event ever arrives, but also eliminate most of the stress and liability caused by active shooter drills. There are other alternatives to drills.


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