Educational psychologist speaks on potential negatives of school active shooter drills

Active shooter training and active shooter drills are becoming more and more common in schools.

While many experts agree that these drills are necessary to prepare children for the chance of an active shooter situation, psychologists are warning educators that certain drills could negatively impact children's psyches.

"Depending on how the school engages in the active shooter drill, it can cause a lot more anxiety than necessary," said Krystal Simmons, an educational psychologist who teaches at Texas A&M University and counsels students in public schools as well.

But Simmons says the research is limited, meaning it would be difficult to prove that active shooter drills aren't worth it. Still, she suggests that schools think twice before doing live active shooter simulations, especially without warning students and staff.

"For example, one day teachers and children show up to school and there's ambulances and fire trucks everywhere, and blood," said Simmons. "There are some schools that have engaged in that type of simulation and have not alerted people in advance."

Giving students and staff the opportunity to opt out of that kind of drill is also key, says Simmons. However, Simmons also offers a simpler solution: stick to lockdown drills.

"What most organizations really recommend is that you start with lockdown drills," said Simmons. "[That] will be your safest bet to engage in a type of drill to prevent students from being harmed by an active shooter."

Mostly, Simmons reminds worried parents of the relative infrequency of injuries in an active shooter situation in a school.

"One thing that everybody should know is that schools are safe and the potential of an active shooter on a campus is quite low," said Simmons. "The risk of being harmed walking to school or riding your bike is a little more dangerous than it would be if an active shooter appears at your school."

For the full conversation, see the video player above.