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TELL US: Should Schoolkids be Trained to Defend Against an Armed Attack?

New training techniques are being questioned that call for students to able to actively defend against a Columbine-style attack. What do you think?

The list of shooter attacks on high schools and colleges and universities is way too long.

One result: a new approach to training schoolkids how to act in such circumstances. As NPR headlined its story last month about the technique: "to survive a shooting, students learn how to fight back".

The essence of the new drill for students is: alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate. Or, ALICE.

What's new there? The verb "counter."

Proponents of the new approach say there have been too many attacks for students not to be trained in how to more actively defend themselves.

Others, especially some parents, ask: does that make sense to expect kids and teens to be able to make such hair-raising, possible life-risking decisions?

There is controversy, now that that the training is coming to Massachusetts. The Boston Globe reports that, on Nov. 14, the Massachusetts Juvenile Police Officers' Association will host ALICE training with mostly police and school officials from places including Canton, Concord, Dedham, Framingham, Franklin, New Bedford, Wellesley, West­borough, Winchester, and also from New Hampshire and ­Connecticut.

This is an important new approach to find out about and think through: should schoolkids learn to more actively defend themselves in armed attacks? Or is that asking for even more trouble and unfair to the students? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

Patrick November 12, 2012 at 09:27 PM
I think this is probably a good idea. Anything that encourages people to do something useful in a crisis instead of just running around screaming is a good thing. I think the counter part is kinda dumb though. Not that being able to defend yourself is dumb but the kid who is going to shoot up the school is going to be at that training as well. He'll just add "figuring out how to counter the counters" to his pre-rampage to-do list. Big fan of the rest of it though.
Carol Bragg November 14, 2012 at 02:12 AM
A better focus is on prevention. In the 1990s, there was a huge problem with youth violence and murders in the City of Providence. Police officers were trained in nonviolence and then trained at-risk middle school children. The Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence began a Street Workers program, employing former gang members, to work with youth. Providence is now nationally recognized for its successful efforts at reducing youth violence. We need to take a serious look at why there is so much violence in this society and take corrective action. That's the responsibility of adults, not schoolkids. We tell boys that it's unmanly to cry or to express or need affection (i.e., you are not to be fully human), we glorify violence and killing, we allow technology to displace human relationships, and then we're surprised at the results?
Molly Kittleson November 14, 2012 at 09:15 PM
Wow…this is scary stuff. We receive Robo calls; sometimes multiple calls, for matters as trivial as reminders that the next day is a half-day of school; hopefully, the Dedham School District will have the wisdom to bring this much more important matter to the attention of all parents of school students long before they implement any program involving the kids themselves. I need to ruminate deeply on this matter before I decide if its a good idea or a horribly bad one; I trust I will not hear of this training's implementation from one of my kids after the fact....

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