Teaching kids to fight back against classroom invaders

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by RightHand, Oct 14, 2006.


  1. RightHand

    RightHand Pioneer in a New World Moderator Founding Member

    BURLESON, Texas (AP) -- Youngsters in a suburban Fort Worth, Texas, school district are being taught not to sit there like good boys and girls with their hands folded if a gunman invades the classroom, but to rush him and hit him with everything they've got -- books, pencils, legs and arms.


    "Getting under desks and praying for rescue from professionals is not a recipe for success," said Robin Browne, a major in the British Army reserve and an instructor for Response Options, the company providing the training to the Burleson schools.


    That kind of fight-back advice is all but unheard of among schools, and some fear it will get children killed.


    But school officials in Burleson said they are drawing on the lessons learned from a string of disasters such as Columbine in 1999 and the Amish schoolhouse attack in Pennsylvania last week.


    The school system in this working-class suburb of about 26,000 is believed to be the first in the nation to train all its teachers and students to fight back, Browne said.


    At Burleson -- which has 10 schools and about 8,500 students -- the training covers various emergencies, such as tornadoes, fires and situations where first aid is required. Among the lessons: Use a belt as a sling for broken bones, and shoelaces make good tourniquets.


    Students are also instructed not to comply with a gunman's orders, and to take him down.


    Browne recommends students and teachers "react immediately to the sight of a gun by picking up anything and everything and throwing it at the head and body of the attacker and making as much noise as possible. Go toward him as fast as we can and bring them down."


    Response Options trains students and teachers to "lock onto the attacker's limbs and use their body weight," Browne said. Everyday classroom objects, such as paperbacks and pencils, can become weapons.


    "We show them they can win," he said. "The fact that someone walks into a classroom with a gun does not make them a god. Five or six seventh-grade kids and a 95-pound art teacher can basically challenge, bring down and immobilize a 200-pound man with a gun."

    Change in mindset
    The fight-back training parallels the change in thinking that has occurred since September 11, 2001, when United Flight 93 made it clear that the usual advice during a hijacking -- Don't try to be a hero, and no one will get hurt -- no longer holds. Flight attendants and passengers are now encouraged to rush the cockpit.


    Similarly, women and youngsters are often told by safety experts to kick, scream and claw their way out during a rape attempt or a child-snatching.
    In 1998 in Oregon, a 17-year-old high school wrestling star with a bullet in his chest stopped a rampage by tackling a teenager who had opened fire in the cafeteria. The gunman killed two students, as well as his parents, and 22 others were wounded.


    Hilda Quiroz of the National School Safety Center, a nonprofit advocacy group in California, said she knows of no other school system in the country that is offering fight-back training, and found the strategy at Burleson troubling.


    "If kids are saved, then this is the most wonderful thing in the world. If kids are killed, people are going to wonder who's to blame," she said. "How much common sense will a student have in a time of panic?"


    Terry Grisham, spokesman for the Tarrant County Sheriff's Department, said he, too, had concerns, though he had not seen details of the program.


    "You're telling kids to do what a tactical officer is trained to do, and they have a lot of guns and ballistic shields," he said. "If my school was teaching that, I'd be upset, frankly."


    Some students said they appreciate the training.


    "It's harder to hit a moving target than a target that is standing still," said 14-year-old Jessica Justice, who received the training over the summer during freshman orientation at Burleson High.

    A better option?
    William Lassiter, manager of the North Carolina-based Center for Prevention of School Violence, said past attacks indicate that fighting back, at least by teachers and staff, has its merits.


    "At Columbine, teachers told students to get down and get on the floors, and gunmen went around and shot people on the floors," Lassiter said. "I know this sounds chaotic and I know it doesn't sound like a great solution, but it's better than leaving them there to get shot."


    Lassiter questioned, however, whether students should be included in the fight-back training: "That's going to scare the you-know-what out of them."
    Most of the freshman class at Burleson's high school underwent instruction during orientation, and eventually all Burleson students will receive some training, even the elementary school children.


    "We want them to know if Miss Valley says to run out of the room screaming, that is exactly what they need to do," said Jeanie Gilbert, district director of emergency management. She said students and teachers should have "a fighting chance in every situation."


    "It's terribly sad that when I get up in the morning that I have to wonder what may happen today either in our area or in the nation," Gilbert said. "Something that happens in Pennsylvania has that ripple effect across the country."


    Burleson High Principal Paul Cash said he has received no complaints from parents about the training. Stacy Vaughn, the president of the Parent-Teacher Organization at Norwood Elementary in Burleson, supports the program.


    "I feel like our kids should be armed with the information that these types of possibilities exist," Vaughn said.


    Copyright 2006 The Associated Press.
     
  2. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Good for them! These school attacks all have a recurring theme, students do what they are told, then they are killed. I have taught my daughter to fight back, to use a pen, pencil any sharp object to attack vulnerable spots, eyes, ears, groin, feet, hands, to hit with a blunt object, to create as much damage as possible and then run. These kids need training that they can fall back on, instead of panicking. This reminds me so much of the airplane hijacking. For years it was sit tight and follow orders, I don't think there will be anymore of that happening from passengers on board after 9/11. Good for Burleson!
     
  3. ghostrider

    ghostrider Resident Poltergeist Founding Member

    I believe it is irresponsible to advertise that, though. If an invader doesn't expect to get a barrage of books aimed at his head, it would be more effective.
     
  4. monkeyman

    monkeyman Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I think if he expects to get a barage of books flung at his head and have 20-30 pissed of and/or frightened kids or more in each room stabbing at him with pencils, pens, sissors, etc. that he will pick a nice easy school to target that tells the kids to hide under their desk and make nice still targets for him to shoot at.

    The even more important and rewarding effect I see that can come of this would be that even after they get out of school they are more likely to carry that lesson with them and not be willing victims like so much of our society has become and made things so much safer and easier for criminals. Lets face it car jackings only became popular once people got to the point they would no longer stomp on the gas and run over someone waveing a gun at them or pull out their own and shoot them.
     
  5. B540glenn

    B540glenn Should Be Working Founding Member

    RightHand, could you post the link to that story? I'd like to forward it along.

    Thanks,
     
  6. Infidel

    Infidel Guest

  7. RightHand

    RightHand Pioneer in a New World Moderator Founding Member

  8. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    That's cool. I hate the "don't resist or you'll make it worse" crap. I have taught my kids (all girls) that they are never unarmed. I showed them how to use a pencil/pen as a deadly stilletto. And the best places to stab a person. I taught them from a young age, and practiced with them on what to do if someone grabbed you or pulled a knife or gun on you etc.
    My youngest has a book I bought for her. I will have to look and see the exact title but it was something like "101 weapons a woman has around her" or something to that effect. It talked about improvised weapons and how to use them. A rolled up magazine, a can of hairspray etc.
    Just as in nature, human predators seek out the weakest in the herd to prey on. But even a rabbit can chase off a coyote if they are aggressive enough.
     
  9. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

    Well, Texas is certainly the place where that can fly, especially if they elect Kinky Friedman governadora.
     
  10. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Kinky is pretty anti-2nd Amendment, he might not like people actually defending themselves.
     
  11. B540glenn

    B540glenn Should Be Working Founding Member

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