Do active shooter drills impact students?

By Sarah Acosta - Reporter, Robert Samarron - Photojournalist

SAN ANTONIO - Lockdowns, active shooter drills and more security are being implemented across local schools as mass shootings continue to impact the country.

A handful of local schools are adding active shooter drills to their security plans. But do these types of drills impact students' mental health?

Dr. Jason Miller, a psychiatrist DO with Southwest General Hospital, said he is starting to see more studies focusing on the mental impact on students from active shooter drills. He said there is not enough long-term data to make hard conclusions, but he doesn't believe the impacts are severe.

“Some studies have shown that, yes, there are students who get anxious when they see these new security things going into place, but the studies also show that the majority of kids don't,” Miller said.  “They actually just see it as an inconvenience.”

Karla Deleon, a senior at South San Antonio High School, said she doesn't get scared anymore when there are drills.

“When I was younger, I did feel scared when they would be like, ‘Oh, we are having a lockdown drill,’” Deleon said. “And I was in elementary, so I'd be like, I'd get scared because they make you go into the hallway and duck down.”

Her classmate, Felicity Cardena, who is also a senior at South San Antonio High, said it comforts her knowing that her school district is preparing with future active shooter drills.

“At least you feel more safe because you know what you are doing. You're with people. You know what to do when that situation is going on,” Cardena said.

Miller said the best way to prevent a student from feeling scared or anxious due to these types of drills is for teachers and parents to prepare students by communicating first.

“Communication is everything, and the ability to talk to your student or to your child about what that means in the context of your own school or your own community is going to be really vital to how a student perceives it,” Miller said.

KSAT contacted area school districts about security plans for this year. The following responded with their plans, most of which include lockdown drills run by school police officers:

Northside ISD, Alamo Heights ISD, Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD, South San Antonio ISD, Boerne ISD, Judson ISD, Southside ISD and San Antonio ISD.

Northside ISD, South San Antonio ISD and South Side ISD said they are adding additional active shooter drill plans this year.

All the districts said counselors are always on hand for students to talk to if the drills make them feel uncomfortable or scared.

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