THE MAGAZINE

The Best Defense

By Laura Spadantua

Barricading. If there is a closet or a safe room for children to hide in so that it appears there is no one in the classroom, that’s a desirable option and one that has been employed successfully by schools in mass shooting events. But when there is nowhere to hide, a barricade against the door may help deter the shooter or at least stall him while law enforcement arrives. In training, teachers are taught to be aware of the way the door opens. They are taught “to determine whether the door opens in or opens out, [because]..... If it opens out, then you’re not able to barricade the door,” says Lang.

Barricades are going to be makeshift, says Klinger. “You’re not trying to keep this individual out for two hours. You’re trying to keep him out for a very brief amount of time, until he moves on to the next room or until law enforcement arrives or to delay, deter, and defend from that individual. So we use whatever you have—desks, chairs, tables. Whatever you can flip over and put up against a door,” she explains.

Klinger adds that there can be internal barricades also, so children can be barricading within the room, such as behind overturned desks. That way, if the shooter does get through the door, at least it will be more difficult to actually get at anyone, which might buy time to disarm the shooter.

Situational specifics. An important aspect of training is to get teachers to recognize that they will have to make some snap judgments based on the specifics at the time. In Klinger’s training program, faculty are taken into a classroom environment where they can role-play how they would respond in certain scenarios. That way, she explains, they can get the hang of thinking through the scenario and quickly deciding what the best route to take is. This “really helps people to start to understand that there is no right or wrong answer, that there [are] a lot of different options that people could undertake depending on the situation and what they know is happening and so on,” says Klinger.

Teachers are also taught what factors to consider in evaluating the viability of evacuations. For example, if the teacher has a first-floor classroom where there’s a door that leads directly outside the building rather than into a hallway, or if there are windows that the students can climb out of, then evacuation may be feasible and safe—and thus desirable—even if the teacher or students can’t tell where the shooter is.

 

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