FILE - State Sen. Scott Bennett, 2020

State Sen. Scott Bennett speaks during a Senate Education Committee hearing.

Illinois lawmakers are moving forward with a bill that would allow parents to exempt their kids from their school’s active shooter drills.

The Senate Education Committee approved of Sen. Scott Bennett’s legislation this week. If enacted, a parent could notify the school that their child will not participate in the state-mandated active shooter drills held at least once a year. Bennett was a cosponsor of the legislation that enacted the requirement.

Statistically, the threat is real, but rare, and some studies have shown a level of trauma involved with the drills. 

“In many ways, our kids are no more safe for going through this, but they are experiencing trauma,” Bennett, D-Champaign, said.

A better way to prepare, Bennett suggested, is to devote money to treat the students who could become shooters.

“It is about devoting resources to schools to help identify kids that are at risk of possibly becoming violent themselves,” he said.

The committee approved of the legislation, but Bennett said it could change. 

Experts who conduct school shooter drills say the headline-grabbing drills that simulate graphic violence are often done by inexperienced local officials or law enforcement. One school district in Indiana fell under scrutiny after a simulated shooter with a pellet gun acted out shooting teachers.

A recent report said unannounced school shooter drills cause considerable trauma and should be avoided. 

Staff Reporter

Cole Lauterbach reports on Illinois and Arizona government and statewide issues for The Center Square. He has produced radio shows for stations in Central Illinois and created award-winning programs for Comcast SportsNet Chicago.