When confronted by a gunman at his Colorado school earlier this week, teenager Kendrick Castillo rushed the gunman, taking a fatal shot that gave his classmates a chance to save themselves.
The move has been widely hailed as an act of heroism. But some school safety experts and psychologists fear it's indicative of a growing pressure that American schoolchildren feel to neutralize threats at their schools — an unfair expectation that they say sometimes puts students in danger where it may not already have existed, NBC News reported. At least one expert said he was worried "that we're setting our kids up to be martyrs."
Options-based trainings like the Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate protocol, also known as ALICE, don't "factor in age and developmental factors," said Ken Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services.
"We're asking children to make executive decisions, life-and-death decisions: Do we attack or not? Do we run or do we lock down?" he said.
Michael Dorn, executive director of the nonprofit school safety consulting firm Safe Havens International, said in some cases a student brings a gun to school without intending to carry out a shooting.
"We have had students and educators shot moving to attack when the person was not firing, had not fired," he said.