Parent College Coach Tip #82: Prepare Your Student For an Active Shooter

active shooter

It’s happened again. We all watched shockingly yesterday as more students were massacred by a gunman on a college campus.

Schools use to be safe. But not anymore. They mirror the outside world. There’s a risk of being a victim of a crazed shooter anywhere: in a church, in a movie theater, at an office and in our schools.

Since you can’t live in fear (or let your student see your fear), how do you prepare your student for an active shooter?

First, find out what measures are in place on campus for this type of event. Campuses are good about warning students of eminent threats; your student should stay connected via text messaging and email. On the campus tour, ask questions, even if it’s not in front of your student. Visit campus security and make yourself aware of the protocol so you can pass it along to your student. Discuss active security measures and emergency notification systems currently in place in the event this should happen.

Next, arm your student with these two apps to help them get in touch with help if it’s needed.


iPhone, and Android – Free

The subscription-based MyForce app puts an emergency alert system in your pocket. Tap to send a call for help when you sense danger. By hitting the app’s bright red button, you’ll trigger a discreet alarm. Once the alert is triggered, MyForce will start recording your call and pinpoint your present location. The monitoring operator who you connect with will determine it’s an emergency and call 911. Your emergency contacts will also be alerted.

On Watch

iPhone and Android – Free

This personal safety app lets college students alert friends and authorities immediately in emergencies. There are six app functions: calling 911 and friends, calling 911 only, calling campus police, the “Watch my Back” setting (timed alert that must be disabled with passcode), contacting friends, and the “I’m here” setting. When you walk home and want to let friends or family know you’ve arrived safely, the “I’m here” setting does just that. The “I’m Here” text, call 911 only and call campus police functions are free with the app. The emergency friends, flashlight and alarm functions are available for a $2.99 fee. The complete package is available for $4.99 a month.

Finally, purchase this video and watch it with your student.

The Center for Personal Protection and Safety has developed an instructional DVD for students, titled Shots Fired on Campus: Guidance for Surviving an Active Shooter Situation, available for individual purchase. The program is designed to train students to prevent and survive a school shooting.

Here are some fundamental safety response measures:

  • Have an “out” strategy. Try to escape from the building, even if it’s through a low-level window.
  • Lock yourself in a room if you are in the same building with a shooter but unable to get out. Duck down and turn off all lights.
  • Students should scatter when in the same room with the offender instead of huddling in a corner, which can provide an easy target for a shooter.

Make use of cell phones whenever possible, to call 911 or to text someone for help.

This is not a subject your can afford to ignore or pretend it won’t happen to your student. Sadly, in today’s world, it’s just another thing parents need to prepare their students for when they go off to college. The only way to remove the fear is face it head on and prepare for the event should it happen.


Parents – Want more Parent tips? GET THEM HERE!

Check out my guide for parents: Parents Countdown to College Crash Course

Don’t forget to read all of the Scholarship Mom Tips here.

Author: Suzanne Shaffer

Suzanne Shaffer advises parents and students in the college admissions process and the importance of early college preparation at She is excited to share her knowledge with the readers of Smart College Visit.

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