Whether teaching how to respond to workplace violence in an office, factory/retail setting or college campus, our consulting firm uses the “Run, Hide, Fight” video as part of our curriculum. The only additional information we add is a reminder that “Run, Hide, Fight” is not linear. You may be in a situation when confronted by an active shooter, and the only logical choice is to fight before you can run or hide.
After a discussion about the video, people often ask if “Run, Hide, Fight” should be taught in the K-12 setting. The short answer to the question is, “No.” The long answer is much more complicated.
It is important to remember “Run, Hide, Fight” is shown in an office setting, not a school. Everyone depicted in the video is an adult responsible for themselves and their own decisions. At 1:45 in the video, viewers are instructed to: “First and foremost, if you can get out, do. Always attempt to escape and evacuate, even when others insist on staying. Encourage others to leave with you, but don’t let them slow you down with indecision.”
K-12 schools operate under a different set of rules than business. Businesses must provide training for their employees to meet OSHA regulations for safety, but the adults are expected to use that training and act as, well, adults. Courts have ruled that schools and school personnel are In loco parentis, or in the place of a parent. This gives the schools both responsibilities and consequently, liability in regards to their actions for keeping students safe.
Not only are schools responsible for training students for an emergency, but also for leading the students in an emergency. Therefore, in the event of an active shooter, a teacher cannot instruct their students to run for the nearest exit, yet not make sure the students are actually trying to exit. Nor should a teacher leave behind a student who is too frightened to leave an area, especially when the child is very young.
Hide is currently taught in schools under the term “lockdown.” When an active shooter is inside a school, staff members are generally instructed to lock their classroom door, cover the window if possible, turn out the lights and move the students to an area in the room where they are less likely to be hit with gun fire if the shooter fires through the door.
Although this has been shown to be an effective method for keeping students out of harm’s way, many feel simply locking the door is not enough. Teachers are now being taught to barricade the room using existing furniture, extension cords or commercial products designed specifically to keep a room secure during an active shooter event. This enhanced technique of barricading overcomes weaknesses in doors such as large windows to the side of the door frame or large windows in the door itself.
Fight is viewed as a last option when in direct contact with the shooter or if you do not have the option to run or hide. Should we be teaching children to fight a person with a gun? NO! There are several good reasons why this shouldn’t be taught to them.
First, the active shooter event in school is rare. Depending on the age of the child, we could be causing them unnecessary fear by preparing them for something that is unlikely to affect them.