Should Students Confront School Shooters? Educators Ask

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Kendrick Castillo

High school student Kendrick Castillo, 18, died when he confronted a shooter attacking fellow students in a Denver classroom. Photo via

Many students are taught what to do in case of an active shooter: avoid, barricade and hide and, as a last resort, confront the shooter. Two recent school shootings where the students who confronted the shooter were killed are prompting officials to question this practice, the Wall Street Journal reports. School districts train students to throw laptops, books and other objects to distract shooters, and attempt to subdue them by kicking, hitting or tackling.

“They can sit there and become victims, or they can do something and become a hero,” said Greg Crane, founder of the ALICE training method that focuses on countering shooters and is taught in 5,600 school districts.

At STEM School Highlands Ranch near Denver, Kendrick Ray Castillo, 18, was killed May 7 when he confronted one of two shooters accused of killing him and wounding eight others. A week earlier, Riley Howell, 21, died in a shooting at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte while defending fellow students. “Are we creating a generation of martyrs to believe that this is the appropriate response?” asked Kenneth Trump of National School Safety and Security Services.

The National Association of School Psychologists said the students who lost their lives should be honored and remembered, but extensive coverage of their acts could be harmful. “We caution against unintentionally glamorizing the extremely high risk of confronting an armed assailant head on, particularly when it involves youth,” the group said. The group recommends the “lockdown” method, which involves locking classroom doors and getting students low and out of sight in an active-shooting situation.

See also: The Price of Heroism: Has ‘Deny, Defend’ Training for Shootings Had an Effect?

Additional Reading: School Shooters and the Heroes Who Shouldn’t Be


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