School safety a community effort in Upper Darby

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School safety is a community effort: Dann Cuellar reports on Action News at 11 p.m., February 14, 2018 (WPVI)

Upper Darby has more than 15,000 kids at about twenty schools. And each year, in partnership with the Upper Darby Police, those students, teachers and administrators go through training on what they should do in case of a threat.

Like a number of other law enforcement agencies, Upper Darby Police conducts annual training exercises at the schools in the event of an active shooter.

"It's a community issue and the community has to come together -- the Police, the school administration, the school student body," said Upper Darby Police Supt. Michael Chitwood. "When we do our lockdowns, they are unannounced."

The drills are unannounced to get a real read on how prepared schools, their teachers and their students are in reacting to an active threat.

"The process today is, you have to take out the threat immediately," said Chitwood. "And we rely a lot on the teachers locking the children up and make sure that the children are safe."

Chitwood said everyone knows what to do and they will do it if anything should happen.

"I hope and pray it never happens, but at least the training is there, nobody can say they weren't trained," he said.

Meanwhile, clinical psychologist Dr. Michael Bradley, the author of "Crazy Stressed, Saving Today's Overwhelmed Teenagers" says putting kids through active shooter drills automatically will raise their levels of stress and anxiety.

"We're measuring them, but the schools don't have a choice because they don't know where the next horror is going to strike," he said.

Bradley said it is also important for parents to have conversations with their children about these types of tragic events.

"For a child in that situation, it is traumatic with a capital T," Bradley said. "Regardless of the age of the child, it's imperative that we get our own emotions in hand first, because kids will actually pay much more attention to our emotional state."

Chitwood said it's a sad commentary on society when children are afraid to go to school.

"All the preparedness in the world cannot stop some moron from getting a gun and going in and shooting," he said. "It just doesn't happen."

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