Every year I have to practice an active shooter drill with my students. I teach freshmen at a large urban high school. You might think that street savvy teenagers wouldn’t be frightened by a ten minute drill, but you’d be wrong. I’ve seen the look in their eyes of “what if,” and I’ve heard the hushed gasps as children huddled in dark corners pretending to be brave. I can only imagine the turmoil such drills cause my colleagues in the elementary grades.

One colleague in the lower grades told me she tells her students they are playing a game of hide-and-seek. Not all students buy the subterfuge. How dreadful to teach such impressionable children that school is a place where they may die.

Some schools, like mine, use a more innocuous name for active shooter drills like lock down, containment drill, or safe mode. But whatever the name such drills inflict far more emotional and psychological damage upon children than most adults realize. The problem is the 24-hour news cycle full of graphic images of schools shootings. Massacres are even being streamed live. Participating in an active shooter drill becomes an all-too-real simulation.

Certainly adults want to protect schools from the horrors like those visited upon students since Columbine, but the current practice of adults pretending to be a shooter while students and staff seek shelter is a remedy which treats neither the symptoms nor the underlying disease.

Active shooter drills cause more harm than good. I am calling upon our elected and appointed officials to put an immediate end to the practice.

Critics of my proposed ban may say that children are not traumatized by fire drills, so why should shooter drills be any different? Perhaps fire drills would be traumatizing if time-and-again the news lead with stories of children burning to death in a school blaze or if fire drills were conducted with smoke bombs going off here and there. By and large, fire drills are greeted by students as a way to avoid 15 minutes of classwork, whereas active shooter drills are more like a horror movie come to life. Teachers being shot with air rifles in Indiana is a perfect example of what is wrong with such drills.

You might think that street savvy teenagers wouldn't be frightened by a ten minute drill, but you'd be wrong.

Moreover, in a fire drill students leave the area of the supposed danger; but with active shooter drills students are forced to sit silently in a make believe game of lethal hide-and-seek when every instinct tells them to run away. It’s the very definition of mental torture.

Halting active shooter drills does not mean we do nothing to protect students from the worst. Training teachers for emergency situations is prudent and inflicts no trauma upon children. Such trainings could easily and effectively be done in after school meetings. Teachers could role play the scenarios without students in the building. After all, what’s really needed is a plan of action, not student participation.

Teachers could have a group chat for such scenarios so that they could share with the entire school the location of the dangerous intruder. Codes could be communicated over the loudspeaker indicating which sections of the building need to be inactive and which areas ought to evacuate. For in this age when every student has a cell phone, the students will be in instantaneous contact with the entire student body. Teachers need to be able to manage such situations. Pretending otherwise is a great disservice to those who need our help the most.

Notice how movie theaters, concert venues, and houses of worship — all places where mass shootings have occurred — do not conduct active shooter drills? Imagine if in the middle of a concert the lead singer announced, “We will now conduct an active shooter drill."

“Please follow the evacuation procedures announced to you before the show started. We will resume our music after the drill is completed.”

What percentage of the audience do you think would return to their seats after being forced to simulate their execution? Want do you think would happen to the gate receipts on the rest of that performer’s tour? Yet we force such trauma on students and then we punish them if they stay away from school as a result.

Worse yet, active shooter drills are about as effective as the 1950s practice of hiding under one’s desk to prepare for a nuclear missile attack. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School had conducted an active shooter drill before its fatal attack. Far from being a shield, the drill informed the shooter of the school’s plan, and he adjusted his attack accordingly.

Nonetheless some adults will argue that such simulations are worth whatever trauma they cause. I don’t doubt their sincerity but I do question the resolve of such statements. Most schools lack the professional counseling needed to help children understand the context of active shooter drills. It's a cop out to tell students, “You may talk with your guidance counselor if you wish.” Every school needs full-time counselors whose sole purpose is to talk with students about such matters.

So for the adult who cries that we should “do something,” hiring full-time psychologists and social workers offers a greater bang for the buck, pun intended. Additionally we need to enact a uniform, nationwide gun reform legislation that allows the authorities to take away guns from unstable individuals. The details can be worked out, but to ignore the threat of easy access to weapons is the same as hiding under your desk to protect yourself from a nuclear missile attack.

Michael J. Maguire teaches Latin and Ancient Greek at Boston Latin Academy, is a member of the Executive Board of the Boston Teachers Union, and is a vice president of the American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts. The views expressed here are his own.