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 Life Lessons November 2, 2006


Steve Truscott
Owner and Master Instructor

 

Don't Mess With Texas' School Kids

In the last few articles I have tried to persuade you that surviving a violent attack requires early recognition, immediate acceptance, and strong counteraction.

Now a school district - yes, a school district - is embracing this method with both arms. An Associated Press article from October 16, 2006, by Jeff Carlton reports:

BURLESON, Texas. Youngsters in a suburban Fort Worth 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 say 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 month.

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 that 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."

The fight-back training parallels the change in thinking that has occurred since Sept. 11, when United Flight 93 made it clear that the usual advice during a hijacking - don't try to be a hero, and no one will get hurt - no longer holds. Flight attendants and passengers are now encouraged to rush the cockpit.

Similarly, women and youngsters are often told by safety experts to kick, scream and claw their way out during a rape attempt or a child-snatching.

William Lassiter, manager of the North Carolina-based Center for Prevention of School Violence, said past attacks indicate that fighting back, at least by teachers and staff members, has its merits.

"At Columbine, teachers told students to get down and get on the floors, and gunmen went around and shot people on the floors," Lassiter said. "I know this sounds chaotic and I know it doesn't sound like a great solution, but it's better than leaving them there to get shot."

Amen.

 

Steve Truscott, the son of missionaries, was raised in India, educated in British schools. His first language was Marathi, the language of west India, his second was Hindi, third was English. Today he is only fluent in English but understands the other two languages. Family Karate has five locations in San Diego County with over 1000 students, 250 in Escondido alone. Respect, Responsibility, Courtesy, Integrity, all are taught first, at Family Karate. Call 746-0983
 

 

 

 

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