Safety at School

Boy eating lunch at school

The frequency of school shootings is terrifying to parents and anyone who cares about children and teachers. Our children are aware of school shootings at ever younger ages. They have become used to having drills during which they are taught to shelter in place. 

School safety is a complex, emotionally fraught topic. As parents, we often feel powerless to protect our children. However, we can at least talk to our school districts about our children’s lockdown training.

Contact with our local schools has informed me about an alternative to the standard lockdown procedure of sheltering in place. It is called ALICE. This protocol is for training teachers and students in more flexible options for responding to an emergency. It is a proprietary training program started by the police officer husband of a schoolteacher. *

ALICE stands for:

ALERT:  Communicate that an emergency is underway.

LOCKDOWN:  Secure yourself if you can find a place to hide.

INFORM: Spread ongoing real-time information as much as possible during an emergency, using all available means.

COUNTER:  As a last resort, counter an intruder by creating distractions.

EVACUATE: The goal is to move students out of danger zones. Everyone should be prepared to flee.

These are a set of options that can be used in any order. 

Not all schools have wanted to adopt this strategy. However, it is important to know that alternatives to simply hiding in place exist and that the thinking about how to respond to active shooters is evolving. 

In January of this year, Governor Murphy signed legislation that requires that all lockdown training be developmentally appropriate. The use of props and simulations during training is prohibited.

You can find out more about ALICE at

Acting counters painful feelings of powerlessness. It can bring new information and resources to places that need them. Talking to your Parent Teacher Organization or school district about safety resources for your children may help you, your children, and your school.


*I am not affiliated with the ALICE organization in any way.