“March For Our Lives” releases chilling video to highlight the horrors of children enduring active shooter drills
The anti-gun violence organization March For Our Lives, started in 2018 by survivors of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, released a stirring video to support the passage of Senate Resolution 42, the Background Check Expansion Act. The idea behind the law is that closing dangerous loopholes in gun sales will mean less of a need for our children to practice survival skills at school — aka, active shooter drills.
The absurdity and horror of regular active shooter drills in our country’s schools, involving kids as young as four years old, is highlighted when the video’s star, a young girl named Kayleigh, explains the drills to a group of adults at a work “team building” event. The video is called “Generation Lockdown,” and, fair warning, it’s not an easy watch.
The woman introducing Kayleigh as the event’s guest calls her an “expert” when it comes to active shooter drills, and clearly, the assembled co-workers are expecting an adult, maybe a cop or member of the military.
Nope. A little girl. Probably in fourth or fifth grade if I had to guess.
“If there was an active shooter, you’d all be dead,” she says matter-of-factly to the group of uncomfortable adults. “When you talk out loud the shooter can you tell where you are and where you’re hiding. Sometimes we play the game ‘who can stay quietest the longest’ so we all remember,” she tells them, in a tone so casual she could be describing the weather. Because that’s how completely normal this is to her — along with 95 percent of public school children in the United States.
“You can try and protect your friends by pushing the tables and chairs against the door,” she quietly explains. “You also have to put a piece of paper over the door window so they can’t see in. And you can’t cry. It gives away your position and your hiding spot.”
“It gives away your position..” That’s something a SWAT team member should be saying — not an elementary schooler.
“And if you’re in the bathrooms, you have to stand on the toilet seat and crunch down so they can’t see your feet and they can’t see your head so they don’t know you’re in there.”
She tells the group that while hiding for their lives, they should also be gathering intel on the shooter. “Try to listen for things that could help the police. For example; if you hear a lot of bangs like, ‘BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG’ the shooter might be down the hall. Or if you hear louder ones like, ‘BANG… BANG… BANG…’ he could be right outside your door.”
“If the shooter comes in the room, screaming won’t do anything,” she says flatly. “You have to try and fight back. If you can’t escape we get taught the emergency window escape plan where you have to break a window, put clothes over the frame, and climb through.”
Kayleigh ends her advice by singing a song she learned at school to help her remember all of the steps to staying alive. At elementary school.
“Our teacher used to sing a song to make it easy to remember. ‘Lockdown lockdown let’s all hide. Lock the doors and stay inside. Crouch on down. Don’t make a sound. And don’t cry or you’ll be found.'”
Anyone who hasn’t had their child get off the bus and casually recount a shooter drill as a part of their school day possibly thinks this video is melodrama or an exaggeration. I assure you it’s not. My oldest child is in sixth grade and has been participating in active shooter drills since shortly after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. That means she’s done them for her entire school career so far, and she’s mentioned pretty much all of the “tips” Kayleigh shared in the video over the last several years. An old pro at the age of 11.
I remember getting choked up and feeling anxious during fire drills as a child. Now, our kids are being trained to listen for clues to a shooter’s location and to stifle their own cries in case he lurks behind their classroom door. My son excitedly told me in his first grade year that he was “the kid who got to stand on the toilet” because he’s the smallest. You see, his class of 22 kids had to hide in their classroom bathroom for shooter drills. He gleefully explained that his teacher gave them all lollipops as a treat for being so good while they hid, but as a parent, I know the lollipops are intended to keep the very littlest students quiet in case that drill turns out to be the real thing.
Sick to your stomach yet? Ready to take action? That’s exactly what the March For Our Lives organization is trying to do. “Instead of passing laws to stop guns falling into dangerous hands, politicians have forced millions of kids to become experts in survival,” they said. “Let’s make enough noise so that politicians have no choice but to embrace gun reform and protect children from gun violence.”