Creating a Generation of Safe Thinkers with Adam Coughran

Talking about some of the heavier aspects of school safety is not always a pleasant topic to discuss, but it is critical in today’s environment. People need to know how school districts approach educating and training students on maneuvering and, in worst-case scenarios, surviving violent school incidents. Adam Coughran, co-founder of Safer Kids, Inc., and developer of the H.E.R.O. (Hide, Escape, Run, Overcome) Program, spoke with Daniel J. Litwin on the foremost safety strategies for education.

Coughran used his extensive background in law enforcement, particularly the safety strategies and counseling skills he learned, to create Safer Kids, Inc., and develop the H.E.R.O. program. Coughran realized training educational professionals on how to handle an active-shooter event with the same methods as law enforcement wasn’t effective, and different approaches and skills were required to make a difference.

“How can kids understand this,” Coughran wondered. “How could professionals who were never in law enforcement or never in the military, how could they digest the information without scaring them, driving up anxiety, driving up trauma?” The desire to bridge that gap and create practical training tools led Coughran down the path to where he is today.

To create the right strategies and approaches to these school safety concerns, Coughran asked himself a question, “Could we talk to kids as young as kindergarten about this really scary topic, but do it in a way that wasn’t fearful?” Coughran and his team worked with experts in all areas, including educators, school psychologists and law enforcement, to make his plan work.

This two-year journey resulted in the H.E.R.O program. “We wanted simple, easy-to-understand language in words that you would hear in a classroom,” Coughran said. “We don’t use the word ‘fight.’ We use the word ‘overcome.’ The goal was to teach skills that could go beyond the classroom into the real world if needed.”

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