In the wake of school shooting incidents, growing numbers of elementary schools are practicing “intruder drills” so students know what to do in the event of such a crisis. But some people worry that the exercises might actually heighten children’s fears for their safety.
In a study published last month in the journal School Psychology Review, psychologists Elizabeth J. Zhe and Amanda B. Nickerson of the University of Albany, State University of New York, attempted to test that concern in an unnamed elementary school in the state.
The researchers divided 74 students in the 5th and 6th grades into two groups. One group underwent a lockdown drill, while the other took a lesson in origami, the Japanese paper-folding art. Tested later, the students who had practiced the crisis drill demonstrated that they had indeed learned the emergency procedures, but that they were no more anxious or fearful than their counterparts in the origami class.
“Effects of an Intruder Drill Crisis Drill on Children’s Knowledge, Anxiety, and Perceptions of School Safety” appears in School Psychology Review.