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Here is a recent frightening question that came into our safety@kidpower inbox: 

We have a lot of parent volunteers at our school. What do we do is we are outside in the school playground with 20 or more students during recess or a PE class and one or two teachers/monitors and then a shooter comes from outside or even inside the fence starts firing at the kids or at us? Do we all drop on the ground? Do we all run into the school building? Do we try to tackle the shooter? What would the proper course action for the entire group be?

Answer from Kidpower:
It is very sad that wonderful parent volunteers have to worry about this kind of thing happening. Even though it is very unlikely to happen in your school, you will gain peace of mind by being prepared. Please be sure that you talk about these issues away from where children can hear you. (Please see our article What if someone starts shooting kids at my school? about what to say and not say to kids if they ask.)

First of all, please be sure that your school has good security measures in place  – and a response plan that gets law enforcement there quickly. Make sure that neighbors and parents all know to call the police if they notice anyone walking into the school carrying a weapon or having any suspicious behavior.

In an active shooting event, most of the time, if possible, the safest thing to do  is to get children and yourself away from the attacker and to a safer place. Where the safer place will be is going to depend on where you are and on how protected the nearest buildings are.

If gunshots are flying randomly from somewhere else but the children or you are not the targets, the safest response is often to drop to the ground to get out of the way.

Whether or not to tackle someone is going to depend on how close you are and on your skills.

Sometimes making a human connection is the safest thing to do for everyone’s sake. Here is an incredible story about a very brave woman who saved many lives, including that of a very troubled young man, by talking with him from her heart.

Thinking through how to handle this kind of emergency can bring everyone peace of mind. For more information, see our article
Tragic Shootings: Kidpower Answers to Common Questions  About How to Stay Safe.


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Published: December 20, 2013   |   Last Updated: October 10, 2014

Kidpower Founder and Executive Irene van der Zande is a master at teaching safety through stories and practices and at inspiring others to do the same. Her child protection and personal safety expertise has been featured by USA Today, CNN, Today Moms, the LA Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Publications include: cartoon-illustrated Kidpower Safety Comics and Kidpower Teaching Books curriculum; Bullying: What Adults Need to Know and Do to Keep Kids Safe; the Relationship Safety Skills Handbook for Teens and Adults; Earliest Teachable Moment: Personal Safety for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers; The Kidpower Book for Caring Adults: Personal Safety, Self-Protection, Confidence, and Advocacy for Young People, and the Amazon Best Seller Doing Right by Our Kids: Protecting Child Safety at All Levels.