Study links active shooter drills in schools to increased depression and anxiety
School active shooter drills increase anxiety and depression in those forced to participate in them, according to a study released Thursday by the pro-gun control group Everytown For Gun Safety.
The study, based on analysis of nearly 28 million social media posts, found active shooter drills were associated with a 42 percent increase in anxiety and a 39 percent increase in depression among students, teachers and parents.
Researchers analyzed changes to social media posts in the 90 days preceding and following a drill. The study flagged increased use of words like “afraid,” “struggling,” “nervous,” “therapy” and “suicidal.”
“It wasn’t just a short duration that everybody shakes off — it’s having a lasting impression,” Sarah Burd-Sharps, Everytown’s research director, told NBC News.
The report includes several examples of the posts analyzed, including a parent who said their kindergartner had been stuck alone in a bathroom during a previous drill and at “a new school even, she still has to use the bathroom in the nurses office because she has ptsd from that event.”
In another post, an educator wrote that after an active shooter drill, “We were in bathrooms crying, shaking, not sleeping for months. The consensus from my friends and peers is that we are not okay.”
Researchers identified users connected to schools based on the institutions’ Twitter followers or their mentions on Reddit. They compared changes before and after drills with a control group of users with no links to the schools.
“We found the levels were nowhere close to what we see in our school communities after the drills,” Munmun De Choudhury, a Georgia Tech computer scientist who led the school safety research, told the network.
“I hope at the very minimum, this shines a light on how severe some of the impact could be in the schools where these drills are implemented,” De Choudhury said.
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