An eye-opening advert by Sandy Hook Promise uses the theme of ‘back to school’ to shed light on school shootings and the terrifying situations many students could face in the new year.
Children should be looking forward stocking new pencil cases and sporting new backpacks as they return to class, and the trailer gives a nod to this ideal state of mind with upbeat music and excited kids.
Things quickly take a dark, yet unfortunately realistic, turn, however, as students start to scatter and sprint away from the sound of gunshots.
Watch the advert below.
Warning: Graphic Content:
Sandy Hook Promise is an organisation founded by family members of victims from the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which took place in December 2012.
They provide programs and practices which aim to protect children from gun violence. The organisation’s Know The Signs programs teach youth and adults to identify at-risk behaviours and explain how to intervene to get people the help they need.
The Sandy Hook Promise reads:
I promise to do all I can to protect children from gun violence by encouraging and supporting solutions that create safer, healthier homes, schools and communities.
I remember when I texted my mom, thinking I was going to die:
I love you if anything happens.
This is so harrowing, so true. Watch it. pic.twitter.com/3EIP1p59AN
— Delaney Tarr (@delaneytarr) September 18, 2019
The advert, which has been described as a Public Service Announcement, forms part of the Know The Signs initiative and encourages people to recognise the reality of what students may one day have to face.
Terrifying scenes of a school shooting unfold as the children tell the camera about their back to school purchases, with one student saying ‘these sneakers are just what I needed for the new year’ as he runs away from an unseen attacker.
Another child declares ‘these new socks can be a real lifesaver’ while using one as a bandage for a bleeding student, and the heartbreaking final scene shows a girl texting her mum ‘I love you’ while hiding in the bathroom.
She explains ‘I finally got my own phone to stay in touch with my mum’, before dropping silent as footsteps are heard approaching.
Though it’s a difficult watch, the trailer has real impact when it comes to addressing the threat faced by schoolchildren.
In an interview with MSNBC, Sandy Hook Promise managing director Mark Barden said the scenes were intended to ‘jar’ the viewer.
This is what our kids are having to think about now and [they] shouldn’t be.
I refuse to accept that as our new normal. There’s nothing normal about kids having to worry about being shot – being hunted – in their school.
According to data from the US Center for Homeland Defense and Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), as per BBC News, 2018 had the highest number of school shooting incidents ever recorded, with a total of 94.
This is our reality. It is heartbreaking to be in classrooms and hear our students, our children!, discuss ways they will hide, ways they would fight back, things they would do in an event of a lockdown. We have to change things! https://t.co/DqnVd6Z4j5
— Marty M (@Marty_M73) September 19, 2019
In the aftermath of the Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas mass shootings last month, President Donald Trump said officials ‘vowed to act with urgent resolve’, but failed to put any meaningful reform in place to help prevent school shootings.
In response to the Sandy Hook Promise video, many social media users expressed their disgust at the government’s inaction. Others described the scenes as ‘chilling’ and ‘powerful’.
it 💔my heart in so many ways that this has become the chilling new normal for young people going back to school. please help share this message. #ProtectOurKids
WARNING: graphic contenthttps://t.co/OSdt73X6f1
— Monica Lewinsky (@MonicaLewinsky) September 18, 2019
Fred Guttenberg, who lost his daughter Jaime in the 2018 Parkland shooting, tweeted:
This sad and tragic video by my friends @sandyhook must be watched by everyone. Because of gun violence, and normalization of it versus solving it, this is how our children feel today.
This sad and tragic video by my friends @sandyhook must be watched by everyone. Because of gun violence, and normalization of it versus solving it, this is how our children feel today. https://t.co/rNQHrxcvFy
— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) September 18, 2019
2020 Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden wrote:
Another school year is starting. Another month of Senate Republicans’ inaction on gun violence. This powerful ad from my friends @sandyhook captures the physical and emotional consequences of that inaction.
Another school year is starting. Another month of Senate Republicans’ inaction on gun violence. This powerful ad from my friends @sandyhook captures the physical and emotional consequences of that inaction. https://t.co/16jaVm4QNG
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 18, 2019
As of September 19, the 262nd day of the year, there have been 302 mass shootings in the US, according to the Gun Violence Archive. If the current trend continues, an average of more than one mass shooting a day will have taken place in 2019. Action must be taken.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.