6 Things to Know for an Active Shooting

The right time to talk about emergency plans with your students is now! Here's how they can stay safe during an active shooter situation.

There’s never an ideal time to put safety plans into action for your family, but safety is crucial at all times, so now is as good a time as ever. Safety includes having a plan of action (POA) in the case of a house fire or natural disaster, sure…but have you prioritized talking to your kids about active shooters? When speaking with students about threats to their safety, it’s important to let them know that these are rare and low-probability events, but it’s essential to be prepared if they ever find themselves in that kind of scary situation at school or elsewhere. Here are some of the most important points to hit to effectively educate your students on active shooting situations. 

1. If possible, get away

The most critical thing for your teen to know is that moving away from a crisis is the best thing to do. Don’t remain in a public building if there are exits nearby and they can safely get out. Tell them to get away from the potential threat and keep moving.

2. If you can’t get out of the building, find a secure place

Hiding under a table or lying down in the open isn’t a good strategy. Make sure they know how to look for a room or enclosed space to secure themselves from the shooter.

3. In a mass casualty event, the police are there to engage the shooter

In other words, they shouldn’t follow the police. Tell them to look for another trusted individual who can help. 

4. Stay off your phone until you’re safe

In school shootings, we’ve seen and heard stories about students getting on their phones to call or text their parents. When an adult or teacher is trying to give safety instructions, students should be focusing all their attention on them. Encourage your teen to stay off their phone until they are 100% physically safe. (Parents also shouldn’t attempt to contact their children if they hear about the situation, as the phone might ring loudly during the crisis; wait until your student can safely contact you.)

Related: 6 Ways to Stay Safe on Your Way to Night Classes

5. Report all jokes, comments, or threats about harming others to an adult

Too often shooters or individuals contemplating suicide inform others of their intentions prior to committing an atrocity, but the threats aren’t taken seriously. As a result, kids should be aware and always report statements implying violence to an adult who will take them seriously. 

6. Look out for emergency exits in any location before a crisis occurs

Whether it’s a school, church, movie theater, or other public venue, reiterate the importance of knowing how to seek out their exit options in the event of an emergency. 

Share your safety tips with us and other parents and students on our Facebook or Twitter.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now


About Douglas Parisi

Douglas Parisi

Douglas B. Parisi, MPA is the Director of Training for SafeDefend. He’s a former police captain with over 20 years of service, including personal experience with active shooter situations. With almost four years of experience as a police academy c­ommander, he’s obtained extensive training on site security, active shooter response, and civilian response to hostile events.

Douglas is a regular speaker at national conferences and seminars, presenting at SRO, DARE, Human Resource, school board, superintendent, public safety, sheriff’s association, and other conferences across the Midwest. He participates in campus safety webinars and conducts interviews with media sources on workplace and campus safety concerns. Douglas also works with schools, businesses, and government institutions on policy implementation, crisis response planning, and threat mitigation.


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Maurice Whan

Maurice Whan

$2,000 Spring Scholarship Contest Winner, 2021

This year has been tough for my family and myself, so receiving this scholarship has been a blessing in disguise! CollegeXpress has been an excellent resource in helping me prepare financially for college. Thank you again for this amazing opportunity!

Nazira Abdelkhalek

Nazira Abdelkhalek

$2,000 Community Service Scholarship Winner, 2014

I am very honored to be this year’s recipient of the Multicultural Student Community Service Scholarship! This scholarship is vital to helping me achieve and fulfill my dreams, and gives me confidence and motivation as I begin my college career. The CollegeXpress website has been invaluable over the past year as I planned my educational and professional goals. I highly recommend it to all students as they begin to focus on their college and career interests. The website is a wonderful guide to schools and scholarships.

Lorena Bacallao

Lorena Bacallao

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress was the foundation of my college search process. Because of CollegeXpress, I was able to make a more informed and confident decision as to where it was best to pursue my higher education. I have recommended this website to fellow peers and for first-generation students like me. It’s a website I will continue to promote because of how simple it was to use and how many opportunities were offered to me at my fingertips!

Caio Matos

Caio Matos

High School Class of 2022

Starting the college admissions process as an international student was daunting. Thankfully, CollegeXpress was the first website I used for that cause and it helped me so much, from knowing where to start to deciding what my next move would be. I'll take a gap year, but I’m certainly using the website again when applying for fall 2023.



High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress showed me that Western New England University was a great match for me both with curriculum and location. CollegeXpress is an excellent resource both future and current college students.

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Barry University

Miami Shores, FL

Drew University

Madison, NJ

University of Vermont

Burlington, VT