Disabled Lives Are An Afterthought During School Shootings

By Shruti Rajkumar: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Many schools have policies that leave behind vulnerable students and staff in the event of mass shootings, fires or other disasters.

n May 2022, disabled student Anja, 16, was in her school’s cafeteria, completely unaware that a student was headed toward her high school in Chicago with a gun.

Fortunately, the police apprehended the armed student before an active shooting could break out.

But Anja was terrified after hearing about the threat. She knew too well that, as a disabled student, she would not have been protected if that situation had escalated.

“The next day, I kept looking over my shoulder because I couldn’t shake the feeling that something would happen again,” Anja told HuffPost in an email interview. “And if it did, I knew there was no protocol or system in place to actually protect me.”

The K-12 School Shooting Database, run by The Violence Project, a nonprofit gun violence research center, has tracked 118 school shootings so far in 2023, with 85 fatalities or injuries on school property from gun-related incidents.

Schools across the U.S. have pre-planned emergency preparedness protocols for what to do in the event of emergencies such as active shooter threats, fires and natural disasters. But disabled students, as well as disabled teachers and staff, are consistently left out of such emergency preparedness plans, according to disability advocates.

These protocols and evacuation plans often ignore disabled people’s needs, which says a lot about how the people who create such plans value disabled lives, said Katherine Yoder, executive director of the Adult Advocacy Centers, an organization dedicated to improving access, care and equity for adults with disabilities who are victims of crime.

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