Teaching kids to fight back against classroom invaders

I am not sure yet how I feel about this.

BURLESON, Texas (AP) — Youngsters in a suburban Fort Worth, Texas, school district are being taught not to sit there like good boys and girls with their hands folded if a gunman invades the classroom, but to rush him and hit him with everything they’ve got — books, pencils, legs and arms.

“Getting under desks and praying for rescue from professionals is not a recipe for success,” said Robin Browne, a major in the British Army reserve and an instructor for Response Options, the company providing the training to the Burleson schools.

That kind of fight-back advice is all but unheard of among schools, and some fear it will get children killed.

But school officials in Burleson said they are drawing on the lessons learned from a string of disasters such as Columbine in 1999 and the Amish schoolhouse attack in Pennsylvania last week.

The school system in this working-class suburb of about 26,000 is believed to be the first in the nation to train all its teachers and students to fight back, Browne said.

At Burleson — which has 10 schools and about 8,500 students — the training covers various emergencies, such as tornadoes, fires and situations where first aid is required. Among the lessons: Use a belt as a sling for broken bones, and shoelaces make good tourniquets.

Students are also instructed not to comply with a gunman’s orders, and to take him down.

Browne recommends students and teachers “react immediately to the sight of a gun by picking up anything and everything and throwing it at the head and body of the attacker and making as much noise as possible. Go toward him as fast as we can and bring them down.”

Response Options trains students and teachers to “lock onto the attacker’s limbs and use their body weight,” Browne said. Everyday classroom objects, such as paperbacks and pencils, can become weapons.

“We show them they can win,” he said. “The fact that someone walks into a classroom with a gun does not make them a god. Five or six seventh-grade kids and a 95-pound art teacher can basically challenge, bring down and immobilize a 200-pound man with a gun.”

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  1. Sweettooth120 October 23, 2006 at 5:25 am

    Today on the news, they reported an attempted abduction of a 7 yr old playing in her backyard. The little girl hit the man in the face and ran away.

    Her parents said they had taught here some very basic self-defense moves and I guess it stuck with her – Thankfully!

  2. Z October 16, 2006 at 12:58 am

    You know, I DO worry so much about Evan’s school. It’s in an old church and when you walk in you either go up to the office or down to the classrooms. And the doors aren’t locked. Or monitored. And as evidenced at his IEP FRiday, you can just walk in and wander to your hearts content. Including hiding in the bathroom or coatrooms. I will have to write a letter. This freaks me.

  3. Jack's Shack October 15, 2006 at 6:08 pm


    It is terribly distressing.

    To choose to react to a serious threat with reaction rather than passivity when the cost of the passivity very likely means death, seems like a reasonable response.


    It surely does, but it still makes me edgy.


    With all the money and resources we have it seems shameful to see how many places we fall short.


    Is there is a right answer, I don’t know.

  4. Val October 15, 2006 at 3:23 pm

    Not sure I agree with the tactics… There is something to be said for ‘defending’ yourself, but putting kids in the ‘offensive’ may prove to cause MORE violence and negative results than if they just did what the gun men instruct them to do. Difficult situation – and it all depends on just how crazy the gunmen are.

  5. jim October 15, 2006 at 6:18 am

    At the moment, I am in agreement, but something else, and absolutely effective, needs to be devised. This loop hole of vulnerbility needs to be fixed, this possiblity for nuts is unacceptable. This is a very rich country, money needs to be spent in the right places.

  6. Houston October 14, 2006 at 11:40 pm

    I’m sorry we have to even contemplate this idea. BEAJ just said that he thought terrorism is the single greatest threat to humankind right now. Unbalanced individuals attacking our children in schools is a part of that terrorism, only without an agenda, just random terror. To choose to react to a serious threat with reaction rather than passivity when the cost of the passivity very likely means death, seems like a reasonable response. To teach passivity as the preferred response seems irrational given most of the situations of school house terror we’ve seen in this country.

    What we don’t need is guns in the classrooms which an idiot Republican (redundant, my bad)in Wisconsin proposed following the Amish children’s massacre.

    Tough subject.

  7. marallyn October 14, 2006 at 10:06 pm

    oy…in my day in canada we had air raid alerts where we had to scrunch under our desks and cover our heads with our arms…and fire drill where we had to get the hell out in an orderly fashion…i don’t like kids having to defend themselves like this…but hey i don’t like us mommys guarding kindergartens and nursery schools either…now we have professional guards with guns guarding our schools…mommy’s just sit back and shake their heads

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