Case Histories (Real-World Solutions)

Preparing Students for a Campus Lockdown

safe kids inc

Safe Kids Inc., an organization founded by law enforcement officers and educators, is designing curriculum to teach children to recognize, avoid, and survive active shooter and violent intruder events.

The H.E.R.O. Program consists of student-facing, age-appropriate curriculum built upon Empowerment Theory with interactive, non-threatening lesson plans, that are based on original narratives for K-8 students. The program, designed to mitigate violence and empower children to take safe action during an active shooter situation, includes all-staff professional development with optional continuing education credits issued by Brandman University, a guide for students with disabilities, a drill and scenario guide for schoolwide contextual drills, along with rubrics and training records.

The first real-life test of the H.E.R.O. Program came on March 15, 2018, at 1:30 p.m. at Cathedral City Elementary School in Cathedral City, Calif. While nearly 700 K-5 students and 65 staff were going about their school day, teachers began reporting gunshots from a residential backyard that borders the school’s playground. At nearly the same time, a frantic delivery driver ran into the school’s office and reported seeing a “bloody” person driving away from the area with people running in all directions, some towards the school.

All of the K-3 students were playing at recess, and the 4th and 5th grade students were eating lunch. Fearing for the safety of her students, the principal immediately issued a lockdown order, but only K-3 students had completed the H.E.R.O. Program.

Students who had completed the H.E.R.O. Program immediately: dispersed from common outdoor areas to lockdown in classrooms; erected barricades quickly; and worked together as a team.

Older students took leadership roles and passed out “Overcome” items. Students took the situation seriously, remaining quiet and focused and greeted law enforcement when the all-clear signal as given, thanking them for their help.

This article originally appeared in the School Planning & Management October 2018 issue of Spaces4Learning.

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