In Canton, Mass., and in a growing number of schools nationwide, police and school officials are training teachers, staff and, eventually, students that in some cases they should fight against armed attackers.
According to an article from the Boston Globe, the standard instructions for a Columbine-style event were to lock down and hide, but school officials in Canton have quietly adopted a program called ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) this year. School personnel at Canton High School and Blue Hills Regional Technical School in Canton are being trained to make active decisions, such as barricading classroom doors; coordinating on-the-spot evacuations; and, if all else fails, throwing objects and using body weight to take down a shooter, the article says.
“The critics say you’re teaching little kids how to fight? No. There are age-appropriate ways to go about this kind of training,” said Canton police Detective Chip Yeaton, a school resource officer and father of four who said he is committed to spreading the program, in the article. “We’re teaching them options. So far, the best level of training students have had is to go lock the doors and wait. And the school shootings continue to happen, and young people are dying. We need to change the philosophy.”
According to superintendent Jeffrey Granatino, Canton’s public schools are in the early stages of program implementation. Training has begun for staff, and the school system plans to teach students from elementary through high school using techniques such as lockdown drills.
A typical lockdown procedure, the Globe reports, involves sounding the alarm, alerting police, locking doors and staying put within a secure room. This approach was recommended by law enforcement years ago as a way to minimize chaos for police on the scene. The ALICE program emphasizes situational decision-making in which individuals decide to barricade doors, run, throw things at the attacker or even physically attack the intruder if necessary.
Also in the article, Kenneth Trump — president of National School Safety and Security Services, a private, Cleveland-based school safety consulting corporation — criticized the program as an inappropriate quick fix to a complex problem.
“They’re soft-pedaling this program by using terms like ‘enhanced lockdown’ and ‘options,’ ” he says in the article. “What they’re not telling parents is: We’re teaching your kids to stand up and throw things and attack an armed intruder. If parents were told candidly what is involved, they’d be flying off the hook in protest.
“Ultimately, the bottom line is: Which parent wants your kid in middle school to be the first to stand up and get shot?” Trump says, adding: “More districts might pick it up until the first kid stands up and gets killed, and then the parents are going to say, ‘Who taught my kid to do that?’ ”