NEW JERSEY -- On Thanksgiving Eve, an emergency lockdown was conducted at Montclair High School due to reports of a student with a gun. Officials determined that there was no credible threat and no weapon was found. This excerpt from One-on-One with Steve Adubato addresses school lockdown drills, their social and emotional impact on students, and what parents need to know about these increasingly frequent security measures. 

Nancy Kislin, LCSW, author of Lockdown: Talking to Your Kids About School Violence, sat down with PBS Host Steve Adubato to discuss the ramifications of school lockdown drills. As an adolescent and family psychotherapist, Kislin shared how lockdowns can be traumatizing for students and the entire school community. 

“Yes, we need to keep our children safe; yes, we need to have some kind of drills,” Kislin said, “but we also need to look at the traumatization that is caused.” Kislin said the main issue is that children often don’t know if a lockdown is a drill or the real thing, and the current thinking is that this uncertainty will help prepare students should a shooter actually be present. 

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However, Kislin asserted that there is no research supporting that mindset, and instead, she believes “it’s unnecessarily traumatizing a generation of children.” 

Kislin also shared advice for parents, who often don’t fully understand what occurs during a lockdown drill. Currently, 32 states mandate lockdowns, and though procedures may differ, usually a code is announced over school loudspeakers indicating a lockdown is underway, and children are often required to hide in a locked classroom to avoid potential danger. New Jersey’s School Security Drill Guidelines can be found online at: https://www.nj.gov/education/schools/security/drill/.

Kislin urged parents to find out about lockdown procedures and protocols at their children’s school, and shared tips for talking about lockdowns with their children. “It’s not hopeless,” said Kislin, “this is something we can help them with.” 

To watch the entire segment featuring Nancy Kislin, go to https://steveadubato.org/the-impact-of-lockdown-drills-on-students-and-teachers.html.