Sunday, May 20, 2007

Teachers stage fake gun attack on kids

Associated Press, May 13 2007

Staff members of an elementary school staged a fictitious gun attack on students during a class trip, telling them it was not a drill as the children cried and hid under tables.

The mock attack Thursday night was intended as a learning experience and lasted five minutes during the week-long trip to a state park, said Scales Elementary School Assistant Principal Don Bartch, who led the trip.

"We got together and discussed what we would have done in a real situation," he said.

But parents of the sixth-grade students were outraged.

"The children were in that room in the dark, begging for their lives, because they thought there was someone with a gun after them," said Brandy Cole, whose son went on the trip.

Some parents said they were upset by the staff's poor judgment in light of the April 16 shootings at Virginia Tech that left 33 students and professors dead, including the gunman.

During the last night of the trip, staff members convinced the 69 students that there was a gunman on the loose. They were told to lie on the floor or hide underneath tables and stay quiet. A teacher, disguised in a hooded sweat shirt, even pulled on locked door.

After the lights went out, about 20 kids started to cry, 11-year-old Shay Naylor said.

"I was like, 'Oh My God,' " she said. "At first I thought I was going to die. We flipped out."

Principal Catherine Stephens declined to say whether the staff members involved would face disciplinary action, but said the situation "involved poor judgment."

How horrible! It may have only been a drill--but did that make the emotions any less real? There was no gunman--but did that make the children any less frightened? For these kids, in this situation, they feared for their lives. Ten, eleven and twelve-year-olds, believed that they would never see their parents again. And this 'drill' was done without their parents' knowledge or permission, and the kids had no reason not to believe their teachers.

Do we conduct fire drills by trapping kids in a burning building, even though the fire may be controlled? Do we teach kids how to dial 911 and give information by having their parents fake heart attacks? Absolutely not. Although these methods are powerful, they are also cruel. What must the kids think of these teachers who would do such a thing to them?

Since the original article was reported it has come to light that the whole incident was a prank at a school camping trip, intended to be in the same vein as spooky ghost stories. The people responsible have since been suspended. 'Poor judgment', indeed.

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