It’s becoming more common for students to be put through a lockdown drill, or even a lockdown itself, when they’re in school.
Studies show the lockdowns, and the violence that causes them, can traumatize kids.
“There may be kids that get scared and start thinking things, start worrying,” said Abigail Schlesinger, chief of the Behavioral Science Division at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.
Dilworth Traditional Academy student Trysta Fields and her classmates were terrified when their school was placed on lockdown. They had no idea if anyone was in the building.
“I felt like there was nothing inside me, and I was just scared because I didn't know what was going to happen,” Fields said.
After about 10 minutes, the lockdown was lifted and classes resumed as normal. But the scenario -- real or practice -- is one that millions of students in western Pennsylvania and nationwide have experienced.
Schlesinger said lockdowns and drills shouldn’t be a one size fits all approach.
In the Penn Hills School District, lockdowns are tailored for each grade.
“You may have students in the hallways that are unsupervised where something could occur,” Linton Middle School Principal Katie Friend said. “I want students to know they have choices.”
But things are much different at the elementary school.
“Whereas I have teachers that might have 25 little babies with them, Penn Hills Elementary School Principal Kristin Brown said. “We don't want to scare them.”
The principals admit their multi-pronged approach is still a work in progress, but it's one doctors say is the best way to protect students physically and mentally.
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