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Parents upset school used Columbine 911 call during assembly

Some worry that exposing children to a real-life emergency call is harmful.
/ Source: TODAY

Last week Mary Moore’s children, 12-year-old twins, Lucy and Woody, and 15-year-old Lincoln, had a school assembly about active shooters. Moore wasn’t aware the school was holding it and what she learned after about it upset her.

During the assembly, students heard a 911 call placed by staff during the Columbine High School massacre. Then they watched a video of a man entering a box store with a weapon and duffle bag. Moore’s children didn’t mention the assembly: She only later learned about it when reports of it spread through social media.

“If the school had communicated that this was what they were doing I would have asked that my children not participate,” Moore, 45, a higher education instructor in Muncie, Indiana, told TODAY Parents. “The fact that my children aren’t very impacted speaks to the larger problem that we are militarizing our schools and hardening (our children)."

Ball State University runs the Burris Laboratory School in Muncie, where Moore’s children go, and it shared a statement with NBC News.

“[The school] conducted an annual training session for students in grades 6 through 12. The training was not in the format of a lock-down drill. The training, entitled Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events (CRASE), is offered by local law enforcement agencies, and it is built on the concepts of Avoid, Deny, and Defend. The training provides strategies and guidance for students and teachers about how to respond to emergency events … During the training, there is a short audio clip of a teacher at Columbine High School calling 911 to report the unfolding events. The purpose of the clip is to educate students about how the strategies for protecting themselves in the event of an emergency have evolved.

It is unfortunate that schools across the country have to conduct this type of training, but it is our responsibility to educate and empower students on what to do in the event of an emergency.”

While Moore thinks that the school and principal are doing what they believe is best for the children, she wonders if programs like this place too much responsibility on children.

“Adults need to help children,” she said. “The principal described it as empowering. I disagree.”

She also worries that such programs come from people with security and policing experience but who have little understanding of the impact graphic audio and video might have on children.

“I have listened to the 911 call. It is surprising to me that people think it is OK,” she said.

Moore says she wants to be the one who educates her children about the causes of mass shootings and how to react to it. When she expressed her concerns to the school, she felt like they took her seriously.

“I felt heard. We had a disagreement but I felt the way they managed my concerns is the way I hoped they would,” she said. “We have a great community.”

The Twitter thread, started by the friend of an unnamed family with children at the school, includes outraged responses and a debate about how to prepare students for emergencies.

One Twitter user wrote: “My blood is boiling reading this!”

Another said: “Someone needs to do research on how these types of exercises are exacerbating already existing anxiety/PTSD and creating new cases as well.”

In the thread, another parent shared how his school district prepares students for violent situations.

We apologize, this video has expired.

“I am not sure the solution but in our town they did drills for lower grades (middle and elementary) and gave other excuses like if a coyote or wild animal got lost in the school. It’s not perfect but it’s a better drill psychologically, and it gives administration a method.”