Do active marksmanship exercises work?

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Today, three questions: Do active shooting exercises work? What are pediatricians most worried about right now? And how do adolescent girls adapt to their changing bodies?

As a gunman began shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan, students and educators recalled the chilling training they received from their school’s regular active marksmanship drills.

They barricaded the doors with desks and chairs. They covered the windows and then silently gathered in corners or bathroom stalls. Some armed themselves with makeshift weapons like scissors and calculators. When a way seemed clear, they ran.

Some students, like Joyeux Times, 16, praised the exercises.

“I think the training is helpful,” she said. “It saved the lives of a lot of the students.

Yet four students died.

My colleague Dana Goldstein looked at this training and the issues surrounding it. Students in more than 95% of American schools practiced such exercises before the pandemic. Most states require safety drills. And the school safety industry is big business.

Jaclyn Schildkraut, professor of criminal justice at the State University of New York at Oswego, studies school lockdown drills.

The exercises were necessary, she said, because the teens felt “more prepared and more independent.” Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

But the exercises can harm the mental health of students, while doing little to prevent mass shootings.

“There hasn’t been strong evidence that these exercises help,” said Megan Carolan, vice president of research at the Institute for Child Success.

In fact, according to some critics, the focus on “hardening” schools could undermine strategies that could effectively prevent shootings from happening. These steps could include tougher gun laws, better threat assessment and more mental health counseling in schools to help students cope with strong emotions.

“The response was perfectly executed, but four children were killed and multiple injuries occurred,” said Karen McDonald, the Michigan prosecutor whose office is overseeing the criminal case. “We really cannot get out of this tragedy. “

Here are more updates on the recent Michigan school shooting:

  • A 15-year-old sophomore has been charged with one count of terrorism causing death and four counts of first degree murder, which could lead to a life sentence if convicted. McDonald, the prosecutor, said the attack was “absolutely premeditated.”

  • Prosecutors charged his parents with manslaughter. Parents bought the semi-automatic handgun the son used in the fatal rampage as a Christmas present, prosecutors said. Police arrested the parents after an intense manhunt.

  • The directors of Oxford High may also face legal repercussions. The school’s actions have come under a microscope, prompting questions about the school’s responsibility for the tragedy. (The administrators left the second in a classroom, the prosecutor said, despite concerns about his behavior.)

In the weeks when children aged 5 to 11 became eligible for Covid-19 vaccines, many impatient parents took their children to be vaccinated. But much of the initial demand has already been met.

Doctors are now struggling to reach hesitant and indecisive parents, even as they attempt to deal with health issues that were not brought under control during the pandemic.

At the Charlotte Community Health Clinic, which serves low-income children in North Carolina, Dr. Anne Steptoe tries to approach vaccine fears with patience and understanding.

Its patients – who often suffer from chronic illnesses or live in crowded homes with vulnerable family members – are among the children most in need of an injection.

Yet most parents who have brought their children to the clinic in the past month have refused. Often, parents are more focused on getting treatment for mental and physical problems that had not been controlled during much of the pandemic.

These can be overwhelming.

In the days immediately following the availability of vaccines, Dr Steptoe spoke with patients with a wide range of health concerns. One girl was sleepless and suicidal. Another was anemic. Several young boys had gained weight during the pandemic. And a 10-year-old girl had had asthma attacks and misused her inhalers.

All the while, Dr. Steptoe is answering questions about the vaccine, sometimes speaking to families two or three times before they feel ready to vaccinate their children.

“It’s about building a plane in the air,” said Carolyn Allison, the clinic’s executive director, of her efforts to get children immunized. “It might not be anti-vaccine, but ‘What’s handy in my world?'”

Details: Only five million of the 28 million children aged 5 to 11 – about 18% – have received at least one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.


  • A black superintendent at Washington State, speaking at a mixed face-to-face and virtual board meeting, was interrupted by a looped recording of racist slurs.

  • The Republican Party of Texas focuses on local school board elections and other local non-partisan races.

  • The association of school boards Georgia is the latest to separate from the National School Boards Association, in part because of a letter the National Council sent to the Biden administration requesting federal intervention to ensure the safety of board members and other officials of the Board. school.

  • The documentary “Try harder!” follows five gifted students during a selection San Francisco public high school as they compete to enter the top colleges.

  • Six teachers from Babylon High School, on Long Island, were placed on leave as a sexual misconduct investigation continues and former students make complaints


  • Police said they killed a student at Florida Institute of Technology who pounced on them with a “knife”.

  • America’s military academies are plagued by racism, the Associated Press reports.

In “Just Girls,” an Op-Doc from The Times, girls ages 14 to 17 spoke candidly about their changing bodies.

At puberty: “I wanted to be a kid and I always wanted to have fun. But at the same time, I wanted to grow old, and I wanted to become taller.

On social anxiety: “Everything that’s going on in my head is like, ‘What are the other people thinking? Are they laughing at me in their heads? Do they think I look weird? Do they think I look fat?

On the cries: “I thought I was an older woman. I’m pretty sure I was hit on by a 25 year old man. It’s crazy because at the time I was 14 years old.

And that’s only in the first four minutes of the 13-minute documentary, directed by Bronwen Parker-Rhodes.

To me, the documentary was a useful reminder – amid all the partisan struggles over school politics and parental fears about the pandemic – that it just is weird be a teenager. Here is the link to “Just Girls”, which is well worth your time.

That’s it for the briefing. See you next week!

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Maria D. Ervin