A middle school in Chambers County, Alabama is asking students to arm themselves with an eight ounce canned food item with the belief that doing so could catch an intruder off-guard long enough to allow police to arrive.
The idea came to administrators from ALICE training, which stands for: Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate. The training suggests it is better for children to fight back against intruders rather than become “sitting ducks.” The “Counter” method teaches children to throw items at an intruder, including books, classroom items, or even canned corn.
“I can honestly say that the major point of the the training… is to be able to get kids evacuated and not be sitting ducks hiding under desks,” Superintendent of Chambers County Schools Dr. Kelli Hodge said.
Hodge went on to say that the training is used in 30 states, in addition to Auburn University. The program follows new school safety guidelines issued by the Department of Education in 2013, who say that schools have three options to deal with intruders: run, hide, or fight.
W.F. Burns Middle School Principal Priscilla Holley sent a letter home to parents, announcing the idea, saying:
“As a result of school shootings throughout the United States and discussing with law enforcement on the best procedure to follow to keep our students safe, we are enhancing our procedure for intruders.”
The letter went on to say that although the request may sound odd, arming students with canned foods gives them a sense of empowerment and able to protect themselves if an intruder were to enter their classroom, writes Drew Galloway for WHNT.
“We hope the canned food items will never be used or needed, but it is best to be prepared. At the end of the school year, the cans will be donated to The Food Closet,” wrote Holley.
Holley went on to say that the canned items would be stored in classrooms, and children would not be walking around the hallways with them. The method would be a last resort for students who could not evacuate the school in an emergency. Teachers are taught to first barricade classroom doors. If that were to fail, the canned items would then be used.
Since the letter has gone out, reactions have been mixed. Hodge claims that most of the negative responses have been received through Facebook, most often from people who do not have children in Chambers County Schools.
Some critics believe the method would make children a target for the intruders. However, Hodge responded to this by saying: “If it comes to the situation that they are forced to do that, then they are a target because they’ve not been able to evacuate,” she said.
Other schools around the country are taking different measures, such as arming themselves with actual weapons, in order to be able to handle the intruders.