For our students today, lockdown drills for possible active shooter situations are as common as fire drills or tornado drills. School shootings may not have been something parents worried about when they were in school, but there is a lot of work being done today to prevent them.
There have been 16 school shootings this year, which is 75 since 2018, according to Education Week. The COVID-19 pandemic likely played a role in slowing the trend. In 2020, there were 10 shootings, a number significantly lower than 2019, with 25 shootings and 2018 with 24.
Of the shootings this year, 24 people were killed or injured. Six of the 24, four children and two adults, died.
“What we know from prevention work of many, many years is that we need to be the ones to tell our children that’s not what we do, but people are scared,” said Karen Pillis, director of mental health services with Family Services of Roanoke Valley.
Pillis says the conversation has to be direct when talking with students about this violence.
Conversation and mental health check-ins are preventative measures. School resource officers are another.
“In order to not shake people up and scare people we definitely tell them what to expect during the drills. Also, that’s good for them understanding why we’re telling them to do what to do,” stated Roanoke County Chief Deputy Brent Hudson.
Hudson spent five years as a school resource officer for Roanoke County Public Schools.
Every school system in Southwest Virginia has a lockdown plan.
Roanoke City Public Schools says it conducts drills at least twice a year.
Chief Deputy Hudson also encourages conversation with your students about this and says if parents have questions as well – ask!
Click here to monitor Education Week’s tracker.