When speaking with kids about threats to their safety, such as an active shooting situation, it is important to let them know that these are extremely rare and low probability events. With that being said, it is essential to educate them on being prepared. Here are a few ways parents can speak to their kids to help them feel more prepared should they need the information:
- The most critical thing for children to know is that moving away from any given crisis is the best thing to do. Remaining in a public building when there are exits nearby is not the right thing. Tell them to get away from potential threat and keep moving.
- If you can’t get out of the building, teach them to find a secure place. Hiding under a table or laying down in the open is not a good strategy. Make sure they are aware of a room or enclosed space to secure themselves from the shooter.
- Children need to know that in a mass casualty event, the police are there to engage the shooter. In other words, they shouldn’t follow the police. Tell them to look for another trusted adult, employee, or worker that can help. In these cases, police have a job to do that involves danger.
- Stay off your phone until you are safe. In school shootings, we have seen and heard stories of students that have unnecessarily gotten on their phones to call their parents. When an adult or teacher is trying to give instructions, tell them where to run, or where to go, children should be focusing all attention on their caregiver. Encourage them to stay off the phone until they are 100% physically safe. (Parents shouldn’t attempt to contact their children as the phone might ring loudly during the crisis.)
- There are no jokes, comments, or threats about harming others that shouldn’t be reported to an adult. Too many shooters have informed others of their intentions prior to committing an atrocity. Children often think that if they know something then the adults must know it as well. As a result, kids should be aware and always report statements implying violence… and these reports should be taken seriously. Most children see suicidal ideations on social media and never report them.
Written by: Douglas Parisi, Director of Training for SafeDefend
Douglas B. Parisi, MPA is the Director of Training for SafeDefend. He is a former police captain with over 20 years of service he has personal experience with active shooter situations. During 3 ½ years as a police academy commander he has obtained extensive training on site security, active shooter response and civilian response to hostile events.