Monday, May 14, 2007

Teachers Fake A Gunman Attack on Children (horrific)

Tennessee teachers stage fake gunman attack
Heard this one on the news today. Some 6th grade teachers in MURFREESBORO, Tennessee, had a brilliant idea of faking a gunman attack while the students were on a Field trip.
"The mock attack Thursday night was intended as a learning experience and lasted five minutes during the week long trip to a state park," said Scales Elementary School Assistant Principal Don Bartch, who led the trip.
“The children were in that room in the dark, begging for their lives, because they thought there was someone with a gun after them,” said Brandy Cole, whose son went on the trip.
During the last night of the trip, staff members convinced the 69 students that there was a gunman on the loose. They were told to lie on the floor or hide underneath tables and stay quiet. A teacher, disguised in a hooded sweat shirt, even pulled on a locked door.
Principal Catherine Stephens declined to say whether the staff members involved would face disciplinary action, but said the situation “involved poor judgment.”
Poor Judgement? Not sure about disciplining the teachers? How about firing the jackasses. I am surprised some angry father hasn't gone off the deep end and punched one of them. I couldn't even imagine someone putting my child through something so horrific. Especially without notifying the parents first. It was cruel, unnecessary, and just plain stupid. It's bad enough parents these days have to fear for their children when they get on a school bus every morning, but to fear the very people in charge of protecting them.
This had to be cleared higher up in the chain than just the teachers. Everyone involved needs to be fired!


Just Dave said...

This is why I lost so much respect for teachers when my kids are in school. It seems that, for everyone you find that is truly dedicated and inspirationa;, you get 5 boneheads like these.

Ellie said...

After I punched the teacher I would sue the school system and lobby for everyone involved to get fired.
Talk about post traumatic stress... assult... kidnapping charges.. among other things.

You can still face kidnapping charges and assult charges, even if the weapon is fake. It is deemed that the threat is there and evident at the time of the attack.

e.Craig said...

I'm trying to imagine how an assistant principal could muster up that much stupidity. I don't know what else to say.

RWA said...

This is so bad I can't even think of a single possible "justification" for this. Did they think it was like a fire drill or a tornado drill?

I don't think you'll have to worry. I think you'll see plenty of people getting in trouble on this brilliant event.

paz y amor said...

Pardon me as the voice of dissent. While it's touted in the media as a prank in bad taste, it seemed to be a "learning experience" that was conducted improperly. They didn't do it to get a good laugh at the childrens' expense, they did it to prepare them for a realistic situation and see how they would react. The reason the kids were so shook up is because the threat of it happening is REAL, and there are numerous recent school shootings to bear witness to that fact. Most children in the US are unprepared for a situation like this, but the reality is that it can happen anytime, anywhere and it's more frequently happening at school. Had a REAL gunmen showed up and killed a few students at that school, the first question parents would have asked was "Why didn't the school have a plan of action in an event like this?" Speaking of which, what is the protocol at your jobs, churches your children's schools in the event a gunman enters into the building? Yeah, we don't have one either...

Ellie said...

But they told the children that it was real when the children asked if it was a drill and they didn't notify the parents that something like that could take place at an undisclosed time.
When the children asked if it was a drill, they should have been notified. Instead the teachers said no it wasn't and the children started screaming and pleading for their lives.

paz y amor said...

Telling the kids deliberately that the "shooter" was real and not a drill is exactly where it gets out of hand- and the teachers should have said that it was an exercise when they saw the kids getting upset. But it also defeats the purpose of a drill if it's taken to be a joke.

One of my irks at school is that everytime we have a fire drill and the alarm sounds, the principal comes on the intercom to tell us it's a "fire drill", so kids don't take it seriously- they play, run down the halls and talk loud making it hard for them to hear instructions. Instead, the drill should be more like a real situation so that the kids take it seriously everytime.

I agree parents should have been notified that these types of drills would begin at the school (and they soon will I imagine)- but it didn't seem to be a school-wide thing, another point which makes it improperly done.

paz y amor said...

...and by the way, I'm sure Spencer Tunick would LOVE your belly on film, just like e.craig!

Ellie said...

your too kind... :)

RWA said...

"A 'learning experience' that was conducted improperly"??????

Are you kidding me?

If that's anyone's idea of a "learning experience," then they should start setting fires in classrooms during fire drills. They should create storm conditions during tornado drills.

You can't have a "drill" for a situation like this. No one can. Why? Because there is no way to know what these nutcases are planning or thinking! What if Virginia Tech had done "drills" and told folks if there's a shooter on another floor, get out.

Gee, that's easy. Oh, wait. No one drilled about what to do when the gunman chains the doors shut!!! Now we're stuck in the hallway and here he comes.

This is stupid. Period. And people need to be punished.

Nicole said...

This is quite sad. I feel very sorry for the children involved as they must have been very frightened.
Sometimes, even with the best intentions, people do make very bad choices.

paz y amor said...

Alright RWA, I'll take the bait. There is no "perfect plan" for catastrophic situations, regardless of the origin, but to have people prepared for it IN THE EVENT, isn't a bad thing. I guess you missed two of my points, the first being that if someone with a gun walked into the school I teach at RIGHT NOW a) no one would have a clue what to do- no "code red", "lockdown", or "get the fuck out!" over the intercom system and b) that lack of preparedness will surely cause more people to be harmed. In fact, we don't even have keys to lock our doors!

The second point was that if the aformentioned event occured and their children were harmed, those SAME angry parents would be suing the school system for NOT having measures in place to protect their kids (like the Columbine parents did). They're upset that their kids were frightened and rightfully so, BUT how much more angry would they be if their kids didn't know any better and ran into the hallways and into the path of danger?

e.Craig said...

I think everyone agrees that being prepared for a mass killing attack is a smart thing. Back in the day we had fire drills at school, just as they do today.

An attack drill involves tactical responses to various scenarios. It's not like a fire drill. A lot more learning involved here but it could be achieved. Class time would have to be taken to teach the basic tactical situations.

These educators had good motive, I'm sure. They just used extremely poor judgement by carrying out that particular plan.

RWA said...

There's no bait. It's plain common sense that there's no reasonable way to have any kind of an effective plan.

What if the intruder doesn't walk in the door by the office? Maybe a teacher in a far outside room notices the intruder - but has no way to notify the office and, in effect, spread the word?

Columbine is entirely different. Those were students who attended daily; they weren't strangers. If someone you see everyday walks in and pulls a shotgun from under his trench coat, there isn't much of a plan for that either.

Teachers should take control of their classrooms - especially at that age. High school and college is different.

Not once, in any of these instances, have I heard, "Little Johnny got shot when he ran out of the room before the teacher could stop him." Not once. Is that to say it won't ever happen? No.

People are going to be upset if they lose their child/children. That's understandable. Unfortunately, some of those people will be so hell-bent on blaming someone else that they'll sue. People sue for anything these days; schools should look after the students as best they can.

There are some things, however, that just can't be controlled.

RWA said...

You'll LOVE this, Ellie. The "punishments" have been handed out.

Two weeks of suspension for the assistant principal and the "lead teacher" on the field trip. Two weeks.

Here's the link to the Murfreesboro paper:

I personally like how many times the newspaper itself refers to the incident as a "prank," rather than a "drill."

Sara said...

I'd be down at that school with a few punches myself, omg.

Sara said...

I'd be a punching my way through those teachers too!

Woozie said...

Paz kind of has a point. It's a little extreme to tell kids there's a man in the school with a gun looking to kill you, but if you just announce "This is a Code Red drill" (the school is put on lockdown as if it was a real emergency), like they do at my school no one's takes it seriously. They even laugh or say "Who's There"? when the 'gunman' knocks on the door and we're supposed to be quiet. A middle ground needs to be found, somewhere...

Ellie said...

not a cool 'prank'
I would still sue. and still I would sue after I hit the teacher. Maybe that's just me...

paz y amor said...

"People sue for anything these days; schools should look after the students as best they can."

Aha! RWA now you're seeing what I meant. Parents will sue for their kids getting physically hurt (ala Columbine), and they'll sue for mental hurt from a "drill" (ala this Tennessee "prank"). It wouldn't matter one way or another. My issue with these particular parents is that they're going to sue because their children were upset and crying. If I had a dollar for every child that cries at my school, both you, me and Ellie's unborn baby would be rich! I had a girl in my class today BAWLING because she has to take Toadie (the class pet) home tomorrow instead of today. Should I get sued for that? I'm sure someone out there thinks so.

RWA said...

woozie, they don't set the building on fire when there's a fire drill. Why does someone have to pretend to be a gunman?

Have a quiet talk with them. Tell them this is what we do if the teacher announces "Code Red" or whatever.

There is no need whatsoever to have a surprise "prank" (this is what CNN and the Murfreesboro paper called it repeatedly) to try and teach the kids anything.

Nicole said...

Paz...I really think it has become a culture thing. Parents are so stressed and busy and actually have such little time with their children that heaven forbid..little Johnny, ever shed a tear...
Don't you find that nowadays, parents are like that.
I know a parent who can't stand the thought of her child ever being unhappy...and she will fix or do anything she has to do, to make sure that it never happens.
I tell her, what's going to happen when your kid joins reality and perhaps you aren't around to always ensue the happiness. The fact of life is that many times we are going to be unhappy in life...suck it up buttercup is my personal motto.
Don't get me wrong, of course there will always be just reasons to intervene, but parents, use your brain!

I am actually glad that the teachers were not fired. It's not like they purposely tried to terrorize the kids, out of kicks or something.
Instead of a witchhunt, maybe focus could be on the actual kids...make sure they get councilling if needed, maybe this will get people talking.

Ever since Vir. Tech happened, ther has been several threats called in to local high schools in my city. It was just pranksters, and students or people seeking attention. It is very disruptive and sure can make the ole ticker pound when it happens.

Nothing like V.T, Columbine, etc has ever happened in the history of my province. But that's not to say it could never happen. I sure as hell want my kids to have the knowledge of what to do incase something ever does go down.

Ellie said...

as a childhood victim of abuse, maybe my opinion is stronger. I could never imagine someone purposely terrorizing my child. Especially when that person is entrusted with my child's care, and well being.

For the single fact that they told the children it was not a drill and the children started crying and pleading for their lives, is what would piss me off the most. Even after the fact, the children don't shrug it off and go "oh okay" they were traumatized and their mental states left fragile. They did this with no prior knowledge of the parents. There are no guidlines for this type of drill, and as pointed out early, can you really prepare for a nutcase? You never know how someone will attack, what state of mind they are in, and by what means and lengths they would go too.

I think that b/c the teachers did'nt inform the parents and b/c the teachers made the threat real to those involved by stating it wasn't a drill, that they broke several laws. You could rob a store with a toy gun and still get charged with robbery w/ the use of a weapon, because the weapon was percieved to be real. The fact that the teachers made the threat real, the children were also held against their will. There is another law broken. And imagine the damage control that the parents had to do with their children...the nightmares that their children may have suffered all b/c the threat was real to them at the time.

That is why I would sue them. I think that there are cases out there were you can just "sue" just because. But there are cases out there that are valid. You F*** with my child and I will come after you. Period. I will go to the full extent of the law if someone ever intentionally put my child through that type of trauma.

Just my opinion.

Nicole said...

I wasn't saying that I don't think that a line was crossed, when I said about parents and their kids not being happy, it was more just in Paz said about the Toadie.

I stated yesterday that even though this was done with good intentions, it was a stupid thing to do. Parents should always give permission for stuff first.

Like I said, I would sooner focus on a good outcome...if children were terrorized and traumatized, make sure they are getting help. As a school and a community, maybe they can work together thru this.
By focusing on this and not letting it die down and harping on it, will do as much damage to the kids, in my opinion.
Perhaps the teachers can sit with the children and parents and explain their intent, apologize and all that. Maybe this will even get the ball rolling and get discussion happening all around your country.

We prepare our children and teach them all about strangers with candy...etc etc.
Well it's now a part of life that we are going to have to talk to our children about school violence.
It's a sign of the times.

I am going to go one even further...maybe parents will step up to the plate and start talking to their kids about bullying and preventative methods. Instead of teaching and patting boys on the back to be the alpha male, promote tolerence and acceptance to others.

Ellie said...

While respecting your opinion Nic...I still think that it it is a little lax to say the teachers shouldn't have been fired/punished for breaking several laws and traumatizing the children.

Nicole said...

I never said that there should be no punishment..I merely said that I am glad they weren't fired.
Big difference Ellie.

2 weeks suspended, doesn't sound like no punishment to me.
Maybe they should have been suspended longer, but who am I to say or decide.
Maybe they should even take a course on empathy or a refresher of some kind in human resources.

If I was one of the parents of a child involved, MY first course of action would be ensuring that my child recieved any help if needed and then sitting down with the teacher and probably higher ups and discussing the situation and getting an apology.

Going all ballistic and punching out teachers and suing all involved may be some people's methods of dealing, but I always try to teach my children that 2 wrongs don't make a right...if that makes any sense.

Not saying that you are wrong to want to sue or bodily harm someone who you feel threatened your child, but for me, it is just not my way.

RWA said...

Teachers can TEACH the kids what to do in these situations. You don't have a fire drill in school without the kids KNOWING what they're supposed to do.

To just pull this prank and see what happens, without any type of discussions with the kid or instructions on what to do, is insance.

Two weeks of suspension for two of the people involved is a joke. I will be interested to see if the complaining parents accept that and let it go.

Woozie said...

RWA, maybe you missed the key words: middle ground.

RWA said...

paz y amor, no, I'm not seeing what you meant. What they did was wrong. I'm not convinced you can "drill" for something like that.

And when you have fire drills, you don't set the building on fire, or even run around screaming fire, first. You TEACH the kids what to do.

This was ridiculous. It wasn't even at the school.

Columbine isn't even comparable. Again, those are students at the school - not strangers.

This assistant principal and these teachers made a horrible decision, and it's not just because their kids cried. Can you say for certainty that these kids didn't suffer mental issues as a result of this PRANK? No, you can't - and neither can I.

And, please, don't try to trivialize the severity of this incident by comparing it to having a frog in your classroom.