A Swarm of Bees

Someone forwarded me this email, titled “Lockdown Averted”. You may be thinking that’s crazy. Maybe you’re even thinking, “why am I still reading this post?” Well, let me give you some background… 

In our conversations about lockdown at schools, we often use the - now notorious - “swarm of bees” example. At the beginning of our conversation with schools about lockdown, we quickly recognized that the word “active shooter” or “bad guy” or “hostile person” or whatever word you might have thought of when you heard “lockdown” created this uncomfortable energy in the room, but more importantly created an environment where people began to check out. “It’ll never happen here”. “Not my problem, security will thwart it”. Those were the responses that we were hearing. 

So I went on a mission. I wanted to find the answer to this question: How can I get staff, faculty and students to feel that lockdown is relevant to them without terrifying them or asking them to meet me on a militant level?

The answer: The Bees. 

I simply replaced the word “active shooter” or “bad guy/gal” with the word “swarm of bees” and I began watching people’s body language, knowledge retention and willingness to stick with me in the conversation. It was pretty incredible. Bees in and of themselves are a real threat, don’t get me wrong, but that’s the very reason that they are such a great resource to us in our conversations. People - staff, faculty, students, parents - can relate, even see themselves being attacked by a swarm of bees. Nearly everyone’s been stung once or twice and for those that are allergic - the fear is even greater. But while the threat is so real, the anxiety that is produced during one of these conversations is so much less - and people’s willingness to envision themselves responding, so much more. 

From a safety person’s perspective, here’s the deal: Bees are a legitimate threat. Swarms of them are very scary, but they’re the type of scary you can talk to a 10 year old about. Unlike an active shooter (for most communities). What’s more? Using that scenario elicits the same response as one might take to an active shooter - well some of the same pieces anyway - and can be used to communicate and educate without terrifying your audience. 

So that’s why someone forwarded me this email. They were engaged enough, retained enough and made it their own enough, that they were able to find humor in it. You just can’t do that when you use the “active shooter” scenario. Well, I can’t.