Opinion: ALICE is a plan that leads to chaos

Isabel Gitten

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ALICE, the new safety protocol at WHS, is a plan that can lead to chaos. This new procedure is all about “freedom of choice.” Students now have the freedom to decide whether they want to run or hide in case of an emergency. Giving every student the ability to make their own decisions is flawed and could cause one student’s judgment in this situation to hurt others.

As much as it is hard for us to admit, high school students don’t always make the best decisions, let alone when they are in a dangerous life or death moment. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, a part of the brain called the frontal cortex that controls judgment, reasoning and thinking before acting is still developing throughout one’s teenage years. Especially when it comes to reacting to fear, a teenage brain does not always have a thoughtful response. The still developing teenage brain panics on impulse, which does not always lead to the best decision.

In simpler terms, a teenager’s brain is not as good at making in the moment decisions as an adult’s. ALICE is specifically based on making quick choices in high pressure moments. Through the system, students have the freedom to directly disagree with an adult or a group of students and do what they want. Therefore, a student could directly disagree with someone whose brain is developmentally better at making choices in tough moments.

Teachers have had much more training taking action during an intruder invasion than students have. They are more aware of the patterns of school shootings and how to deal with them than most students are. There are definitely cases when a student may have a better idea, and if this student’s idea is smarter, then the whole class should follow it to ensure the safety of everyone. I think that students and teachers should make decisions as a group to be safe.

ALICE is about making the best decision for an individual. For me, the “every man for himself” mindset is not most effective in every intruder situation. If an intruder attacks and countering is the best thing to do in the moment, it is important that everyone does the same thing. One person attacking an intruder will most likely not stop them. With ALICE, students don’t need to make the same choices, so in a situation where it is smartest to counter, if a few kids decide to run, one student could be left to defend themselves alone, which is not a situation that anyone would like to be in.

I am not saying that ALICE is completely flawed. I do believe there are many aspects of this new plan that will benefit students in an emergency. The fact that students now have the option of fleeing instead of hiding in a classroom is definitely a smarter technique. The five aspects of ALICE (alert, lockdown, inform, counter, and evacuate) are better options than just hiding; however, I do not think giving every student the ability to disagree with one another and do whatever they want is safe.

My biggest concern for ALICE, is the lack of unity and trust it creates throughout our school community during an intruder invasion. What I envision when it comes to a moment in which our school will have to use ALICE is students not caring for each other and doing what only they think is best for themselves. Caring for one’s safety is important, but if someone abuses their privilege to make their own decision and not follow the group, they could endanger others.

When considering what you would do in a tragic situation when using ALICE is necessary, I think it is important to not just think of yourself, but also about doing what is safest for the entire group. A choice an individual makes can impact others. One’s judgment in this situation may not be the best.

Opinion articles written by staff members represent their personal views. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent WSPN as a publication.

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