Two of the largest teachers' unions are calling for the revision or elimination of active shooter drills, saying traumatizing students is not the answer. I agree. On the other hand, our schools have the responsibility to provide a safe and healthy learning environment.

When we drop off the kids, we trust the schools to keep our children secure from threats of violence. The question comes down to how the schools plan and prepare to mitigate these threats?

I can see where boosting school safety by practicing a realistic active shooter drill could easily traumatize students and staff, but that's the new reality we're grappling with. I was just remembering the days of packaged graham crackers and a container of milk on our desks, and here I am writing about anticipating violent emergencies.

That said, I believe in planning and being prepared for a worst-case scenario. Knowing what to do – and what not to do – in a disaster can save lives. School safety planners can teach in thoughtful, age-appropriate ways the procedures to potentially save lives when there is "stranger danger."

I long for the "golden graham days" but they're long gone, and we live in different times.  That's why school safety administrators must communicate the purpose of these drills. And we just can't crowd kids into a dark closet and expect them not to be stressed, overwhelmed and fearful. Our kids have to know the basic survival essentials as part of staying safe at school. If we can improve on the drill knowledge, I'm all for it, but the elimination of active shooter drills would be a failure in the school's duty to protect students and the district could be found negligent.

I realize this opinion piece has been about school active shooter drills, but it also applies equally to businesses, health care, houses of worship and such, to better prepare their most valuable assets – their people – to respond to a violent emergency with proficiency.

Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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