Since childhood, any time I had heard “Alice,” I’d immediately go to Wonderland. The thought of curious Alice in her babydoll dress, black Mary Jane shoes, and matching headband falling into a rabbit hole sent happiness vibes straight to my brain. The memory of reading the books and watching the variations of movies when I was a kid always seemed to soothe me. All because of a name.
I feel sorry for this generation since Alice in Wonderland will not be the first to come to mind when they hear “Alice.” They will surely associate the name with violence, fear, anxiety and any other relatable feeling towards gun violence and terrorism in schools.
When I talk to people who haven’t heard of ALICE before, the look that is spread across their face is similar to someone listening to a horror story. “Wait, you’re for real?” they’d say. “Yes, my son just went through this last week for the second time this school year,” I’d say.
ALICE stands for “Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate.” It is an instructor-led training class that provides preparation and planning for individuals and organizations on how to handle the threat of an aggressive intruder or active shooter. Sounds scary, right? In schools across the country, these training classes have been held in classrooms with students and their teachers.
I don’t know if this is making this generation weaker and more sensitive to their surroundings or if it’s making them stronger and more aware of things around them. I’m hoping for the latter.
I have mixed feelings about the whole process. I’m glad that schools are taking action and having this be far forward in the mindsets of everyone at school. But… why are school shootings becoming the new norm?
From the ALICE website, it states that according to the FBI reports on active shooter incidents, violent attacks on schools are increasing in frequency. Insert ALICE training here. The website also states that over 1 million individuals have been trained in all 50 states.
Greg Crane developed the ALICE Training Institute after the tragic events of Columbine. He has more than 30 years of experience as a law enforcement officer and trainer for response to violence. He is also known for speaking out at talks and lectures about the subject.
The first time my son had a training he was in first grade. Six years old. To me, that is just absolutely terrifying to train a 6-year-old on how to be safe if you have a scary person with a gun shooting at you and your friends. Oh, this world makes me angry.
At 8 years old now, and in second grade, he has had three ALICE training sessions in school. Each time, a letter from the principal has been sent home about a week in advance. The first time I saw the letter, my heart stopped. It’s becoming more and more “normal” every time I hear about it. I don’t like that it is though.
I’ve talked to my son about it. I don’t want him to be ultra scared, but I do want him to understand why this is necessary in schools. Some of the things they teach them to do in times of panic, however, I don’t necessarily agree with. Grabbing something that will not hurt others to throw at the attacker, to me, just seems like “Hey! Pay attention to me, shoot me!” But maybe this tactic works? I don’t know, I’ve never been in this situation before.
It breaks my heart as a parent that these innocent kids at such a young age have to be involved in these terrifying experiences in order to train their brains to keep them safe and to survive. I always tell my son, and everyone for that matter … be aware of your surroundings, AT ALL TIMES.
It definitely makes him feel scared and timid when the drill is happening. Luckily my son and his schoolmates have not dealt with a surprise actor as the shooter like I’ve read about in other schools throughout the country. That, right there, is an appetite for social anxiety.
“It’s a scary world we live in,” I told my son when we were in conversation about this. His response was a solemn, “I know.”
For more information about ALICE, go to the website www.alicetraining.com.
Jennifer Levesque can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.