For students across the U.S., lockdowns have become a fixture of the school day, the duck-and-cover drills for what the New York Times calls “a generation growing up in the shadow of Columbine High School in Colorado and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.” Kindergartners learn to hide quietly behind bookshelves. Teachers warn high school students that the glow of their cellphones could make them targets. Parents get regular text messages from schools alerting them to lockdowns.
The lockdowns are part of a constellation of new security measures in schools over the last decade, a complement to closed-circuit cameras, doors that lock automatically and police officers in the building. Most states have passed laws requiring schools to devise safety plans, and several, including Michigan, Kentucky and North Dakota, specifically require lockdown drills. Some parents question whether the trend has laid a backdrop of fear and paranoia across their children's education. One Kansas parent said her first-grade son was told to hide in a classroom cubby during a drill while police officers practiced how they would ensure that children were tucked out of a gunman's sight. That night, she said, he had a nightmare that a “bad guy” shot him at school.