Pre-school director, parents horrified by viral photo of child rehearsing active shooter drill

Posted at 11:05 PM, Jun 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-22 23:58:20-04

How young is too young to prepare children for an active shooter situation at school?

A photo of a three-year-old in Michigan practicing a lockdown drill is going viral.

Some parents and local pre-school administrators say exposing children that age to these scenarios is unnecessary.

Cherishing the innocence of her toddler, Jane Macneille dreads the day her daughter Isla is old enough to understand the violence going on in the world.

"I was in high school during 9/11 and it's never left me," said Macneille. "She's kind of growing up in an era where things like 9/11, you almost become desensitized to them."

The photo of the three year old caught practicing an active shooter drill in Michigan is raising the question, how young is too young to prepare children for that kind of scenario?

"I don't think a three-year-old needs to be aware that maybe there is a man with a gun coming to the door," said Kim Ryan, Director of the Mirasol School in Palm Beach Gardens.

About 200 students are in enrolled at the Mirasol school during the school year, ages 1 to 5 years old.

"This level, they are very naive. We want to protect them and keep them as innocent as possible," said Ryan.

The drills are in place, but only practiced by the adults. Locked doors, lights off, and students are moved to certain areas of the school.

There are at least two exists in every classroom.

The only thing children rehearse are the fire drills.

Psychotherapist Fran Sherman says including a child in an active shooter drill at such an influential age could have a traumatizing impact.

"They could be afraid to go to school, they could be afraid to be without their parents, they could have nightmares," said Sherman. 

Sherman says unless a child asks, don't drill and tell.

"We don't have to open up that line of discussion there might be somebody going into your school with guns," added Sherman. 

Macneille says she's okay with keeping her sweet Isla in the dark for now, but knows she won't be able to shelter the toddler forever.

"As she gets older, the level of comprehension you'll kind of adjust it to what their age is and what they are able to understand," added Macneille.