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Talking to kids about lockdown drills

Posted: 7:54 PM, Aug 01, 2016
Updated: 2016-08-01 19:54:14-04

Before the first day of class, schools are urging parents to talk to their children about lockdown drills.

The drills, which were once uncommon, have now become a normal part of school.

Parents like Donald Wright say he never imagined needing to explain a lockdown drill to his children.

"It's sad that we have to worry about our kids," Wright said. "we never even had lockdowns."

Wright is raising his three grandchildren and says his 6-year-old twins and 9 year-old all practiced the drills, and came home with plenty of questions.

"The kids get scared and they need to know what's going on more," Wright said.

That's why he's trying to teach his children to take the drills seriously, without causing too much alarm.

"I am very old fashioned and I explain to them the way things are, and how many people are weird in this world now a days, and for them to follow the adults," Wright explained.

It's something Psychiatrist Dr. Jed Magen says parents need to think about, since putting that talk off isn't going to help your child.

"You can't think in terms of my innocent little child," Dr. Magen said. "You can't avoid it, so the best you can do is begin to talk to your children about it."

He says amount of information parents share should vary based on their child's age and maturity.

"Really young children, it's probably enough to say that bad things sometimes happen and they can protect you in school by doing this drill," Dr. Magen said. "At 10 or so kids begin to get a little bit more impression of the world."

During that conversation Dr. Magen says it's important for parents to not get emotional, since that will help kids feel more secure.

"The less upset you are, the more matter of fact your are, the more they'll take it in stride," Dr. Magen added.

At school staff will be doing their part, with some districts even training with police before students are back in class.

In the Ingham Intermediate School District Superintendent Scott Koenigsknecht says all staff go through training. He says teachers will talk to their students about what they should do during a lockdown.

"Safety is our number one priority, so we have to make sure that we have the processes and procedures in place to ensure that for our students and staff," Koenigsknecht said.

Koenigsknecht is encouraging parents to talk with their children about lockdowns before the first day, especially since the drills are not always announced.

"In real life situations you don't know when you're going to have an emergency," he added.

Lockdown polices vary depending on the school. Some go with "shelter in place," while others are starting to have students evacuate the building if it's clear.

Koenigsknecht says his staff is meeting with law enforcement to talk best-practices.

He's also working to get digital maps of all ISD schools to first responders, so in case of an emergency, whoever gets on scene first will know the layout of the building.