Why You Should Take Lockdown Drills Seriously

Students hiding under desks as part of a lockdown drill. (Photo credit: Ohio Education Association)

Students hiding under desks as part of a lockdown drill. (Photo credit: Ohio Education Association)

On Feb 13, Great Neck North had yet another lockdown drill. In the thirty minutes the drill took place, I witnessed students joking about how they would run up to the gunman and say funny things. I saw students playing on their phones. Some, including myself, continued to work on their iPads in the dark. 


The sad fact of the matter is that we now live in a time where gun control is not effective. Guns often fall into the wrong hands, leaving thousands of Americans emotionally scarred, physically wounded and in some cases, dead. The security measures taken at North High may seem excessive or tiresome, but they are for the benefit of all the students and staff in the building. 


After the Columbine shooting, schools have been making lockdown drills a norm. (Photo credit: NBC News)

American school systems are an easy target, containing masses of children and staff which leaves them extremely vulnerable to gun violence. According to Everytown, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that aims to tackle gun control, “…there have been at least 405 incidents of gunfire on school grounds from 2013 to 2018. Of these, 260 occurred on the grounds of an elementary, middle, or high school, resulting in 109 deaths and 219 injuries.”

This political cartoon depicts how desensitized towards school shootings some have become. (Image credit: Denver Post)

Many school shootings don’t even make the news anymore, now that they’ve become so common. Those that do earn coverage have an unusual amount of casualties. “I find it tragic that we’re growing up in a time where each school shooting is just another one on the TV,” said Avery Park, a junior at North. “The fact that we even have to think or talk about the idea of someone bringing a gun to a school is horrifying.”


While mass shootings, where 4 or more people are killed, such as Sandy Hook, might be rare in the scheme of things, school safety is not something we should be taking lightly. Mrs. Acardi, a business teacher at North, would be the first to tell you. “I always tell students to take these drills seriously because a friend of mine was a teacher at Sandy Hook,” Mrs. Acardi said. “I always say ‘do you think she thought she would lose friends and young students that day?’ Of course not. Everyone here at Great Neck thinks they’re immune to something like this happening, and the truth is it can happen at any time to any school.”

There have been many school shootings since Sandy Hook, where numerous students have been injured or killed. (Image credit: Gun Violence Archive)

Lockdown drills shouldn’t be a time to check your phones, joke around, or chat with your friend. “No one ever thinks they’re going to be victims of a school shooting,” Mrs. Acardi said. “Although the drills may seem intrusive and annoying to students, they can truly save lives.”


When a gunman approached Rancho Tehama Elementary in Corning, California, in November 2017, only one student was shot nonfatally in the chest and foot. The superintendent credited the prevention of loss of life to the success of staff in executing a lockdown drill that was practiced for many years. 


Although there haven’t been official studies supporting the effectiveness of lockdown drills, it’s better to be safe than sorry. While it may be frightening to think gun violence could occur at North, the thought is now a reality we have t0 face and accept. We can’t just pretend that the possibility doesn’t exist and brush it off. 


At the same time, it isn’t healthy for students to feel overly anxious about a possible threat. The importance of lockdown drills resides in their role in preparing us for some of the most serious threats to student safety. Anticipating and countering the worst-case scenario is the best thing students and staff can do in case of an emergency and taking lockdown drills seriously is a step in the right direction.