By: Lauren Garabedian
NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y.- The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting occurred on December 14, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut. 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot and killed 26 people, including 20 children between six and seven years old and six adult staff members. Four parents started a foundation that has been creating powerful and controversial Public Service Announcements that have been uploaded to youtube.
According to their website, the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation was founded by individuals who were affected by the school shooting that day. The founders include: Mark Barden, father of Daniel Barden who was one of the students victimized. Nicole Hockley, mother of Dylan Hockley who also lost his life during the shooting. Timothy Makris, whose son was inside the school and was physically unharmed and Bill Sherlach, who is the widow of Mary Sherlach, the school psychologist who also lost her life during the shooting. Their mission “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.”
In 2017, the foundation shared a message to warn the people around The United States, to know the signs of gun violence in a school. The public service announcement presented two stories, one story of a boy and his crush and another of a boy who clearly shows signs of gun violence. The video displays how while watching, the audience is so focused on the one kid they do not see the signs of gun violence being displayed by the other boy in the background.
Fast forward two years, when the foundation released another video about back to school shopping. The video starts out happy, while kids show off their back to school gear, but quickly turns dark by showing the kids using their gear in a school shooting situation. The difference in perspective between these two videos is due to the increase of mass shootings throughout the nation that have now become a social norm.
The more recent video displays a chilling perspective on what used to be a fun, cool way for getting ready for the new school year, to a survival kit in a violent situation. The target audience may seem like it’s for parents and children, however it is more directed towards a nation as a whole about how the situation of mass school shootings have become common and severe. The representation of preventing a shooting has shifted in their videos, because the foundation wants everyone to realize that because they are so common, a parent must prepare even before there are warning signs that the event will happen. The representation of the message is very direct, and in other words not sugar-coated. It is meant to not evoke fear, but to reinforce the reality of these horrific situations and how they could happen to anyone’s child and in anyone’s school district.
According to the Vox, there has been 2,241 mass shootings in The United States, not limited to schools, since the Sandy Hook shooting has occurred in 2014. Because of this increase over the years, the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation illustrates a sense of urgency in its videos, that also creates an eerie feeling for the audience because this is the normal situation for students now.
For more information, visit http://www.sandyhookpromise.org
Featured Image: “The 2nd graders getting ready for the day” by Barely is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0