Camden nurse asks if active shooter drills in schools cause more harm than good

CAMDEN, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — Do realistic active shooter drills in schools unneccesarily create trauma in students? A Camden public school nurse whose family has experienced two of the nation's worst mass shootings wants a deeper look into the effects.

Some drills put children through shockingly realistic scenarios, with the sounds of gunfire. Robin Cogan is concerned those active shooter drills are doing more harm than good to the psyche of America's schoolchildren.

"People are hiding, kids are hiding in bathrooms and closets," said Robin Cogan, a Camden public school nurse. "I mean, there's lots and lots of stories now finally coming out about how traumatizing they are. But we don't have evidence. That's the problem."

Cogan, who lectures at the Rutgers-Camden nursing school, co-wrote an article in the journal Current Trauma Reports using the experiences of other school nurses who participated in realistic active shooter drills. "We need research behind these drills to know that it's even the right thing to do," she maintained, advocating for more funding. "I always say, you don't fill up hallways with smoke and debris for a fire drill."

For Cogan, the passion is personal. Her father hid in a closet to avoid the 1949 shooting rampage by Howard Unruh that killed 13 people in Camden. Last year, her 17-year-old niece took cover in a high school closet and survived the Parkland shooting. She said she is all for being prepared for an emergency, but wondered, at what cost.