Children’s Experiences with School Lockdown Drills: A Pilot Study

Aug 17, 2021

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In response to the threat of school shootings, lockdown drills have become commonplace in K–12 schools throughout the United States. Educators, parents, and others continue to debate the potential disruptive and traumatizing impact drills have on children. A small number of quantitative studies have examined the effects of lockdown drills on students’ perceptions of safety, preparedness for crises, and fear and anxiety. Less is known about children’s actual lived experiences of lockdown drills.

In a recent issue of the journal Children & Schools, co-published by NASW and Oxford University Press, an article discusses a pilot program to examine the effects of lockdown drills on students. This pilot child-centered qualitative study explored how children ages eight to 11 thought and felt about their experiences of school lockdown drills. Fear was found to be their common emotional response to the drill and, to a lesser extent, so were feelings of safety, annoyance, and excitement. Although children were found to have good understanding of what to do in lockdown drills, they were not always clear about what the purpose of the drills was and what threats the drills were intended to protect against.

These findings support professional and advocacy groups’ recommendations for planning and implementing lockdown drills and offer original recommendations from children’s points of view on ways to mitigate negative outcomes of drills for students.

 

Authors:

  • Rebecca Bonanno, PhD, LCSW, associate professor, SUNY Empire State College, Saratoga Springs, NY
  • Susan McConnaughey, PhD, LCSW-R, associate professor, SUNY Empire State College, Saratoga Springs, NY
  • Jenny Mincin, PhD, assistant professor, SUNY Empire State College, Saratoga Springs, NY

 

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The journal Social Work is a benefit of NASW membership. It is available online or, at a member’s request, in print. Children & Schools, Health & Social Work and Social Work Research are available by subscription at a discounted rate for NASW members, either online or in print. You can find out more about the journals and subscriptions at this link.

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