- Associated Press - Monday, September 28, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A West Virginia school district is training its students to counter school shootings in a manner that leaves open the option to physically confront the shooter.

Schools in Kanawha County School District are now learning under the Medina, Ohio-based ALICE Training Institute’s program, which teaches the “run, hide, fight” method, The Charleston Gazette-Mail (https://bit.ly/1FCDfdw ) reports. If students cannot exit a room safely or barricade the door, the program says, students should counter the attacker by throwing objects at them or swarming them.

“We’re not teaching any martial arts moves, Jiu-Jitsu, taekwondo or anything like that,” Executive Safety Director of Kanawha Schools Keith Vititoe said. “We’re not teaching anyone to go and look for danger, it’s just the opposite. We’re teaching it’s a strategy of last resort.”

Elementary school students aren’t being taught counter techniques, Vititoe said. The ALICE program recommends that only high school students be taught the swarm tactic, but stresses implementation is left to school districts.

Safe Havens International Executive Director Michael Dorn - whose active shooter training Kanawha schools were using when Vititoe arrived - says he has concerns with ALICE’s teachings and that correctly applied, traditional lockdowns are very successful. The U.S. Department of Education doesn’t recommend teaching students to confront a shooter.

From having helped run numerous simulations, Dorn said he has seen several situations where ALICE trainers have chosen to attack people with guns who were threatening to kill themselves.

“You can turn a hostage situation into a shooting event very quickly,” Dorn said. “Or someone threatening suicide into a suicide.”

Texas State University professor J. Pete Blair has authored an FRI-commissioned study of “active shooter incidents” from 2000 to 2013. He said between 50 and 60 percent of active shooter incidents end before police arrive.

“To suggest that people shouldn’t think about (confronting the shooter) or that it shouldn’t be addressed or talked about is irresponsible,” Blair said. “We have stories that don’t turn into massacres because people did something.”

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, https://wvgazettemail.com.


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