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Sandy Hook Promise Responds To New PSA Reactions



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Responding to reactions to Sandy Hook Promise’s newest public service announcement (PSA) video released last week, Nicole Hockley, co-founder and managing director, said she understands it is a “difficult video to watch.”

In statements released by Sandy Hook Promise, Ms Hockley shared insights into the creation of the video and Sandy Hook Promise’s intent behind it.

The new video was launched nationwide on September 18. The “Back-To-School Essentials” video was posted on the organization’s website with a disclaimer that reads, “Please note that this PSA contains graphic content related to school shootings that may be upsetting to some viewers. If you feel that this subject matter may be too difficult for you, you may choose not to watch this video.”

Reactions voiced by local residents online included that the video could be seen by students and cause anxiety for survivors. Others called it “shocking” and “horrific.”

Responding to concerns that the video is too graphic, Ms Hockley, the mother of Dylan, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, said, “We understand that this can be a difficult PSA to watch — especially in communities like ours that have lived through a mass shooting. It was for this very reason that we provided a warning up front wherever possible to ensure that viewers were aware of its content. Additionally, we placed the PSA on platforms that target adults, as the spot is intended to evoke strong emotions among adults that spark serious conversations and action about prioritizing violence prevention in schools. This PSA was not launched to harm individuals, but to lead to solutions that ensure our children never have to be in this situation — a fear so many of them already have. Every child deserves to be and feel safe at school, and as parents and adults, we have the power and responsibility to do everything we can to make that their reality.”

Ms Hockley said the majority of the national response from educators, parents, news media, and elected officials has been positive.

“YouTube and Twitter viewers have had an overwhelmingly positive response to the video,” Ms Hockley said in the statement. “The youth response has also been incredibly supportive, with many kids sharing thanks for bringing attention to the scenarios that go through their minds during lock-down and active shooter drills. They are counting on us to bring about the culture change that ensures no other kids have to endure the devastation of school shootings.”

As previously reported by The Newtown Bee, past videos released from Sandy Hook Promise include “Evan” and “Point of View.” Both videos share scenes of students interacting to highlight missed signs that could prevent a school shooting. All of Sandy Hook Promise’s videos are available to watch on its YouTube channel. The videos highlighted SHP’s Know The Signs campaign.

Regarding the new PSA, Ms Hockley said the warnings were also translated and shared with disclaimers by news outlets that then shared the PSA.

For Newtown, Ms Hockley said, “As a community who has experienced the tragedy of a school shooting, we understand the sensitivity of this topic. The triggers families and community members are faced with each and every day are countless — our aim is to catalyze change so no other community ever has to live through a shooting, by exposing them to the realities of the situation.

“We know that schools are still one of the safest places to be in the community, but they are not immune to violence,” she wrote. “The core message of the PSA is: if we ‘know the signs,’ we can prevent school shootings, violence, and other harmful acts. The PSA is designed to evoke emotion that sparks serious conversations and actions about prioritizing gun violence prevention in schools, rather than continually focusing on reactionary measures (like bulletproof backpacks, blankets, throwing cans, and other actions that should never have to be used if we focus on prevention). Through this PSA, we want to empower communities with the ability to keep their schools safer through strategic upstream violence prevention measures like our Know the Signs trainings.”

In another effort, Sandy Hook Promise’s Start With Hello Week program ran September 23 to 27, and it encourages schools to work against social isolation. “Start With Hello Week raises awareness about social isolation and educates students and the community on how to prevent it through Start With Hello trainings, awareness, activities, public proclamations, media events, student contests and school awards,” the website reads.

The new video is available on Sandy Hook Promise’s website, sandyhookpromise.org, and across media platforms. Sandy Hook Promise’s website also shares information about its Know The Signs and Start With Hello Week programs.

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