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What should parents tell their kids about school shootings?

Officials guide students off a bus and into a recreation center where they were reunited with their parents after a shooting at a suburban Denver middle school Tuesday, May 7, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

What do you tell your kids to do if a shooter enters their classroom? Law enforcement advises students (and adults, in business shootings) to run and hide, and if neither of those is possible, to fight.

So far in 2019, there have been 15 school shootings. But what tactical advice would you give your children? Is it best to sacrifice your life to save others? Should a student try to disarm the gunman? Should you tell your kid to shield others with his or her body? Or whatever you do, survive?

Someone needs to stop the shooter, but should it be your child?

On Thursday’s JayMac News Show, Ethan Millard and Todd Fooks posed these questions to our listeners while reflecting on stories of heroism that stopped school shootings.

In complete disregard for his own safety, Kendrick Castillo, 18, rushed a shooter at a school outside Denver this week. Castillo gave his life, but that brave act gave other students time to hide under their desks. He’d told his parents that if a shooter ever entered his school, he would not hesitate to act. Eight other students were shot but survived.

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Kendrick Castillo, 18, was killed protecting his fellow students from a shooter, classmates say. Photo: Castillo Family

Castillo’s father, John, said of his son: “He was selfless. My son wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a heck of a tradeoff. He was the best part of our life. We took care of him, and he took care of other people.”

Nate Holley, a sixth-grader at the same school in Highlands Ranch, Colo., told CNN that he was hiding in a closet in a classroom with his hand on a metal baseball bat.

“I was going to go down fighting if I was going to go down,” Holley said.

Should you tell your child to be a hero or to run and hide?

Or, as Ethan and Todd put it, because you love your child, do you instead advise them to not endanger themselves?

Riley Howell, 21, also paid the ultimate price. Recently, at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the student and ROTC cadet charged a shooter with a pistol, tackling him in the classroom. He was shot three times, but he ended the shooting. Howell and 19-year-old Reed Parlier were killed; four others were injured.

“His sacrifice saved lives,” said Police Chief Kerry Putney of Howell.

Can you teach your child to run into danger or is it instinct? If you tell them to run into danger, do you run the risk of them sacrificing themselves because they want to please their parents?

No matter what, Todd and Ethan agreed parents should make a plan with their family so everyone knows what to do if an active shooter comes to their child’s school.