Middle school instructs kids to throw canned food at gunmen

Campus Reform Reporter

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  • A middle school is Alabama is telling students and their parents to bring canned food items to school to arm them in the case of an intruder.
  • The school received training from Auburn University on the ALICE shooter response program.
  • Other universities participating in the program include Youngstown State University and Kent State University.
  • A middle school in Alabama is telling parents to arm their kids with canned food as part of a shooter response program.

    According to New York Daily News, students and parents of W.F. Burns Middle School received a letter from Principal Priscilla Holley and Assistant Principal Donna M. Bell on Jan. 9, requesting that they equip their student with an eight ounce canned food item to throw at an intruder.

    “The procedure is the same as we have done in the past with the addition of arming the students with a canned food item. We realize at first this may seem odd; however, it is a practice that would catch an intruder off-guard.”   

    “We are dedicated to educating and to keeping our children safe at school,” reads the letter obtained by WHNT News, a local news station. “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 procedure is the same as we have done in the past with the addition of arming the students with a canned food item. We realize at first this may seem odd; however, it is a practice that would catch an intruder off-guard. The canned food item could stun the intruder or even knock him out until the police arrive.”

    The letter claimed the cans will “empower students to protect themselves and will make them feel secure.”

    School administrators sent the letter to parents after their faculty members received training from Auburn’s Public Safety and Security Department to be educated in the ALICE training program (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate). Holley told Campus Reform that only school resource officers are allowed to have guns on school grounds. She also confirmed that there are only two officers that alternate between the district's four elementary schools, the middle school and the high school.

    The state of Alabama allows schools to decide their own weapon policies. 

    Lisa Crane, a co-founder of ALICE, told Campus Reform that Auburn first established its relationship with the program when Chance Corbett, the Associate Director of Emergency Management for the university’s Department of Public Safety, went through the training a few years ago.

    Crane told Campus Reform that ALICE provides training that trainees can take back to their company or workplace and use to educate co-workers. Crane added that throwing cans is just one of many ways to distract the gunman.

    “[The goal] is not to hurt the gunman. If he gets hurt by something we throw, well than that is just an added benefit,” Crane told Campus Reform. “But that’s not the main reason why we tell people to throw distractions. It’s to move them from shooting accurately to just shooting or not at all.”

    According to the program’s website, the training is meant to “prepare individuals to handle the threat of an Active Shooter….[allows] individuals to participate in their own survival, while leading others to safety.”

    “It’s not that we are against people’s rights to carry or people’s right to defend, but when you ask a teacher to go towards a gunman and it’s not self-defense anymore but they are defending someone else it’s a whole different mindset,” Crane told Campus Reform.

    The program, which falls in line with the Department of Education’s safety guidelines published in 2013, warns participants that there is no guarantee that the techniques will be successful, but says that they “will greatly increase the odds of survival.”

    “Understandably, this is a sensitive topic. There is no single answer for what to do, but a survival mindset can increase the odds of surviving,” the Department of Education told WHNT. “There are three basic options: run, hide, or fight. You can run away from the shooter, seek a secure place where you can hide and/or deny the shooter access, or incapacitate the shooter to survive and protect others from harm.”

    According to New York Daily News, Chambers County Superintendent Kelli Hodge confirmed that grade schools in 30 states participate in the ALICE training. Higher education institutions are also participants, including, Auburn University, Youngstown State University, and Kent State University.

    Holley told WHNT that the responses to the program have primarily been negative on Facebook from people who do not have children in the Chambers County District.

    The main goal of the training is to make sure the students are not just “sitting ducks,” but rather to get kids evacuated from the building, Hodge told WHNT.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @MaggieLitCRO