School shootings are obviously a tragic, horrifying event. When one occurs, we offer our sincere thoughts and prayers, we mourn the victims, and we worry about the safety of our own children.
Then gradually the media shifts away from focusing on the latest school shooting, and the topic subsides… until the next one.
Because in our country, there always seems to be a “next one”. School shootings, though horrific, have almost evolved into an inevitable event in our country.
Sandy Hook Promise has released a painfully realistic PSA video that depicts the terrifying graphic reality of what it is like for children to attend school with the perpetual threat of a mass shooting hanging over them daily.
Sandy Hook Promise is an organization that was created after the tragic shooting in Newtown in December 2012, when 20 young elementary school students and 6 administrators were killed in cold blood.
(Isn’t it mind-boggling to think that SEVEN YEARS ago small children were shot & killed right in their own school, and we are still dealing with this very same problem??)
The organization’s mission, as per their website, is:
our intent is to honor all victims of gun violence by turning our tragedy into a moment of transformation by providing programs and practices that protect children from gun violence.
Sandy Hook Promise wants to remind people that school shootings are not something our kids have the luxury of forgetting.
And their latest PSA video is a heart-breaking reminder of the reality our children have to face each school day.
The video opens with various students expressing excitement over their new school supplies: the coolest new backpack. Colorful new folders. Fashionable new kicks. You know- all of the sweetest school essentials.
Think of a Staples back-to-school commercial; the tone is initially perky, and light.
But then it takes a darker turn.
One student expresses enthusiasm for his new sneakers, saying that they are “Just what I need for the new school year!”. But he says it as he tears down a school hallway… away from a faceless shooter behind him in the hallway.
There’s the student that is excited about the cool new skateboard he got… which he then uses to smash open a glass classroom window as he attempts to escape from a shooter.
Or the girl clenching a pair of scissors, that “really come in handy for art class”, as she crouches near a closed classroom door, scissors clenched in the hopes of defending herself from an approaching gunman.
And then the smartphone. The smartphone image really struck a chord, because my own 10-year-old has expressed interest in owning one. The video’s reasoning broke my heart.
A girl perches on top of a toilet in the girls’ bathroom, thankful for the new phone her mother got her for school this year…
…so that she can tearfully text her mom how much she loves her. One last time. As the footsteps -likely the school shooter’s steps- approach the stall.
The video concludes with Sandy Hook Promise’s point:
The video features a disclaimer at the beginning to warn viewers that the images are distressing.
And note: for anyone who might find the video difficult to watch, that’s the point.
The video should be difficult to watch. It should make viewers uncomfortable to visualize children escaping -or more tragically, NOT escaping- from a gun-wielding killer that is trying to slaughter them.
It should make us parents shudder, or cry, to watch one student try & tend to the bloody bullet wounds of her classmate.
It should make us squirm that along with new school folders, our children begin a new school with the burden that lockdown drills are simply “the new normal”.
It should be painful to watch children getting shot at in school… because for some parents in our country, their own sons and daughters were shot at school.
The PSA released by Sandy Hook Promise is uncomfortable, but necessary. Because uncomfortable as it may be, that is the reality that our children face at school, every.single.day.
And telling yourself “it would never happen here” is an illusion. No one could fathom six-year-old kids being killed with assault weapons in their classroom in a sleepy Connecticut town either, but it happened. Years ago, and it’s still happening.
Sandy Hook Promise is committed to actively preventing school shootings by educating adults and students on their “Know The Signs” program regarding red flags for potential school shooters.
They’ve also raised funds to implement advanced security programs, and developed anonymous peer reporting systems. In short: they’re taking concrete steps to minimize the chances of future school shootings.
The video clip in its entirety is included below. It was deliberately left at the end of the article, because once you watch it, you will need to spend the next few minutes fighting the massive urge to rush to your child’s school & tearfully sweeping him or her into your arms.
Our children’s school reality has a horrifying ugly side to it. But thanks to the efforts of activist groups like Sandy Hook Promise (and ourselves as well), maybe their reality can be changed for the better.