Subjecting Children To Terror – for Their Safety

Like most people, I believe that good parents protect their children from things that they are not ready to handle, from things that may affect their child’s ability to develop into an emotionally healthy adult. I also think parents count on school teachers and public officials to be in alignment with this effort and their general desire for a nurturing and peaceful environment for their children.

My question, then, is why are school administrators and law enforcement officials placing children in situations where the children are, quite literally, being forced to face the possibility of their own deaths?

“What?” you may ask. Certainly this never happens. Not in the United States.

Incredibly, it has happened — several times — here in the United States.

In the lunacy that is our “war against terror”, school children and their teachers are being used in terror training drills without their foreknowledge and without parental consent.

To be clear, I am not referring to a single instance of poor judgment by a backwoods administrator. This was not a single drill gone awry that was then followed by profuse apologies and calls for an investigation. I am referring to secretive, officially-planned and carefully-executed operations that have taken place in our country.

Just as concerning are the responses that the stunned parents had received after the fact. Their protestations were met with weak, initial concern followed by lofty words affirming the supposed necessity and appropriateness of these secret drills.

How does this make sense? Who benefits from this?

The view of the authorities involved seems to be that police officers and school administrators need to receive this training. Their stated goal was to make the drill as realistic as possible. This would logically infer that the childrens’ reaction to the brandishing of firearms and masked men taking over school buses – a natural reaction of panic and terror – helps the officers and school officials better understand the dynamics of terror threats.  The child’s terror helps them with their training.

In my opinion, this is terribly wrong.

I think there is a sort of sociopathy in play when people in positions of authority subject innocents to terror “for a greater good”. That said, it would be hard for me to believe that the educators could be so insensitive and uncaring of the children that they would initiate these plans on their own.

I would like to know how the individual police officers and school administrators were guided into believing that this was acceptable. Seriously, I would take them aside as I would a trusted friend and ask them confidentially “Did you think this was okay, or did you have to tell yourself it had to be okay?” Maybe they felt as though they did not have a choice. A paycheck and official-sounding rationalizations from higher-ups can be powerfully “convincing” – especially in a difficult job market.

In these actions, we are seeing presumably good people doing evil things. The psychology behind this sort of behavior is well understood. The Milgram experiment showed how ordinary Americans can be manipulated into harming others if they were provided assurances by persons in authority that the what they were doing was okay. Could this have played a role in these operations?

Even if good people were manipulated or fooled into performing these drills, their actions should still be considered inexcusable. People in positions of care over our children must never forget their jobs.

Those who had provided the rationale for treating our children this way must be scrutinized.  At the very least, they are grossly insensitive or deluded. At worst, they may have lost their sense of humanity.

Video on unquestioning compliance with 'authority'
“What would you do? Comply or Question Authority.”  [link]

For these drills to have been conducted without parental knowledge is the height of impertinence and arrogance, and it is a betrayal of the trust that they had placed with the school. The parent is left with the work of trying to understand and cope with how the drills may have affected their children. It is not surprising that some children reported having nightmares after their “contribution”.

Having the “proper authority” and “proper accreditation” to stage these actions does not prevent a child from experiencing trauma. And one does not need an academic degree to know that children could be traumatized by these operations, especially children whose life experiences have been lovingly protected and limited to age-appropriate situations.

A most telling aspect of this drill was that law enforcement officials and school administrators sat watching closed-circuit television of the children as it happened.  When the children exited the bus, their hands were bound though they were smiling in relief.  There was applause heard in the video, apparently as the children were about to disembark.  Applause.  This seems surreal in it perversity.

I am not a psychologist, but I wonder what sort of boundaries are shattered when a child leaves a life-and-death situation only to see that they were a performer on a stage, and that the play was directed by those whom they have trusted as their protectors.  Children see things more literally.  Must this be explained?

It is child abuse to subject the innocent to terror so that the voyeurs watching closed-circuit televisions can study the child’s experience to its full effect. This is fucking human experimentation. (Pardon the vernacular.)

This is not a prick of a vaccination needle where the momentary discomfort can be said to have its rewards. This is an act that has the distinct, real possibility of causing life-altering harm to a child’s psyche.

Twenty years ago, this sort of behaviour on the part of law enforcement and school administrators would have sparked national outrage. The perpetrators would have been dismissed, discredited and possibly brought up on charges.

The personal developmental needs of children have not changed in the past twenty years.  So what could explain this apparent change in sensitivity toward the psychological well-being of our children?

Why are school counselors silent on this? Do they not know this is happening, or do they think it’s acceptable? Why haven’t we heard about the effects of terror on children’s development?

Children are being protected from dodge ball and monkey bars, but not terror?

Are the instincts of mothers and fathers now considered primitive and backwards? Have elitists determined that contemporary scientific understanding trumps our natural human instinct to protect our young? If so, where can we read this science?

These public social services are in place to assist parents – not to usurp the parent’s roles. While there certainly are cases of unworthy fathers and mothers, these social systems should stay far and away from interfering with good parents.

Proposed Solution

Launch a formal investigation

  • Document the personnel hierarchy of individuals involved with this drill
  • Determine which individuals conceived or planned the drill at the highest levels
  • Determine whether the above individuals have been or are current involved in other such operations
  • Identify individuals who had objected or voiced concerns over the operations for recognition and praise
  • Caution those in lower level coordination positions to report inappropriate drills
  • Place the progress of the investigation on a public forum

Preventative measures

  • Create a support mechanism for those voicing concerns about official behavior
  • Remove institutional protection for liability for those involved

 

 

OER Guest Writer