DALLAS - The Dallas Independent School District is teaming up with others to offer training to students on how to prevent violence on campus and how to respond if it happens.
About 6,000 Dallas ISD middle and high school students gathered at the American Airlines Center Monday along with about 1,000 elementary school personnel.
The program called “See, Say, Do Something” was put together by Mark Herrera, a former SWAT officer who has worked for the Department of Homeland Security. He designed it for the International Association of Venue Managers.
“The program is primarily focused on our students. That’s it,” Herrera said. “They’re the voice of our communities. Through IAVM, the International Association of Venue Managers, we oversee a lot of the life safety programming to include an academy. So our feeling was if we can help secure all of our venues from small to large then we should be able to provide the tools and the training and the resources to help these schools kiddos mitigate a lot of the risk within their environment.”
“It shouldn't be normal. It shouldn't happen for any kid in any town in any city,” said Skyline High School student Chelsea Collins. “We shouldn't have to worry about getting shot when we are getting an education to try to become something better.”
The training wasn’t just about signs before a shooting but also had tips like identifying exits and places to hide when you enter any building.
“You have to have situational awareness to understand what is going on so that you can make it out alive,” explained Dallas FBI Special Agent John Skillestad.
But Townview student Holland Frieling says we should also talk about gun control
“I think my generation is sick of this. Lawmakers, I don’t know if they don’t completely understand that, but we're working and we’re pushing to make things different because we don’t want to see this happen to our kids,” Frieling said.
In 80 percent of school shootings, at least one other person knew what was going to happen but said nothing.
“When you know there’s a student or a classmate that says ‘I’m gonna inflict harm on myself or someone else,’ that’s what we go to stop,” said Dallas ISD Police Chief Craig Miller.
Representatives from Homeland Security, the FBI and Dallas ISD police are involved. The emphasis is on giving students the tools they need to make them more aware of their surroundings.
“I think the key right now is just sometimes we put a Band-Aid on things that we need to provide not only to students but everyone in general to mitigate the current risk,” Herrera said. “I think we need to increase observational capabilities and that’s key.”
The goal is to help students achieve a heightened level of awareness. They participate in groups to actually come up with a plan to complement the program.
“School kids that have never been exposed to violent situations they have no method of preparing, planning or recovering from these situations,” Herrera said. “It’s incumbent upon us as a community to provide them with those tools so that they have those resources available should a crisis ever come into their environment.”
Students hope the training helps change the future while acknowledging they’ve been in the moment.
“It’s kind of like post-traumatic stress after these events. We are afraid that it’s going to happen,” said Molina High School student Glenda Meyer. “It’s disheartening knowing that this is our reality, now knowing we have to think about situations like this. It takes away a piece of our innocence.”
The training is timely but Dallas ISD said it was already in the works before Friday’s school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, that left 10 people dead.