The Inanity of School Lockdowns

“At no point was anyone in danger.” 
—Stephen Massey, Principal of Glebe Collegiate



Today at Glebe Public High School in Ottawa, Canada, some dumb kid brought a gun to school for an unofficial show-and-tell. Word got around to the administration and all of the students, my son among them, were promptly told to silently huddle into the corners of their classrooms where they stayed—despite police and administration knowing early on that there was no threat to their safety—for over three hours. No work was done. Nobody was allowed to go to the bathroom, much less leave the school. 

This is the fashionable and highly odious practice known as ‘lockdown’, during which schools take what nearly amounts to illegal custody of children and removal their freedoms. This practice is a symptom of our cultural paranoia, and it serves no earthly good while effectively breeding another generation of spineless sycophants. The children—who were not (and I will keep repeating this for emphasis) in any real danger, and it was known that they were not in any real danger—huddled in hunched-over postures, whispering and checking their phones constantly for any updates from the outside world on the situation they were living through. 

This scenario really is a mindfuck if you think about it long enough. Here’s part of the problem: every generation in the workforce, whether that be education, administration, government, policing, or other, was raised on almost a steady diet of television. Culturally we are addicted to drama, and this is evident in how our often inane policies—such as ‘school lockdown’—serve to augment rather than diminish this drama. Our children are taught that their only viable option in such a scenario—where it was even known there was no threat to their safety—is to cower in a corner in fear. We are training these young adults to act, and thus to be, utterly helpless. 

Let’s say there was a real threat, an actual shooter on a rampage at Glebe High School. It doesn’t take an Infantry-trained son of an RCMP sniper (though that is part of my background) to know that bunching a classroom full of kids into corners and keeping them stationary only makes a soft target softer. 

What’s worse is—yes I need to say it again—there was no actual threat. And this was known to the people who initiated the lockdown early on. And yet, far be it from the flaccid administrators or bureaucrats to lose an opportunity to inculcate our children with the perverse forms of drama and fear that our jellyfish, over-regulated, over-insured society thrives on. 

What about borrowing a page from our British cousins? You know, that horribly tired meme that has been misappropriated and worn to death on coffee mugs and t-shirts: Keep Calm and Carry On. It’s original meaning is all but lost on most of us, but the intent behind it is valuable. Fear begets fear. Stop feeding it.