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How a Community Prevented a Planned School Shooting 

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Would you know what to do if you witnessed warning signs of potential violent behavior? Would your child or student know what to do to prevent school violence?

At one high school, the students used the training they received from Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) to prevent school violence and save lives. Empowered with the knowledge they had from the Say Something program and with access to the Say Something Anonymous Reporting System (Say Something ARS), the students recognized the warning signs of violence and took action, stopping a potential school shooting from happening.   

Taking Threats on Social Media Seriously

Say Something-trained youth alerted Sandy Hook Promise’s National Crisis Center (NCC) to alarming, violent threats that they were seeing on social media. In a few instances, these threats were directly targeting some students and teachers. Within two minutes of receiving the first tip, SHP’s Crisis Counselors took immediate action. NCC Counselors received an additional tip where one of the reported individuals was recorded on video saying, “[expletive] this place, I’m about to shoot it up.” The NCC worked quickly with the school team and local authorities on next steps. After a welfare check and confirming the potential attackers had access to a weapon, including a semi-automatic firearm, authorities arrested the students who had made the threats to “shoot up the school.”

Beatriz Ramirez works as a Supervisor in Sandy Hook Promise’s National Crisis Center. Ultimately, she says that it’s the collaboration between Upstanders and Trusted Adults that makes the Say Something and Say Something ARS work so well for life-saving intervention. “It’s that support, training, and resources for the community,” Ramirez says. “And a focus on identifying key warning signs, acting immediately, and saying something. For us in the Crisis Center, every single tip is addressed as soon as we receive it and is taken seriously.”

How ‘Say Something’ Works to Prevent School Violence

When youth are trained in the Say Something program, they focus on three primary steps:

  1. Recognize the signs. Learn the warning signs of violence and threats and how to spot them, especially on social media. 
  2. Act immediately; take it seriously. Lean into Upstander behavior with strategies to take action. 
  3. “Say something” to a Trusted Adult and/or submit a tip to the anonymous reporting system. 

Jessica Neely is the Director of SHP’s National Crisis Center. With an education background and having worked with students, she recognized the safety and mental health challenges her own students had faced within her district. “Working here allows me to support our youth nationwide,” she says. “I am able to help more students and that is so rewarding on so many levels. … We have a robust system that teaches communities to be proactive and not reactive. When school districts partner with us, they join a community of people who work and carry out the mission of making schools safer.”

How Parents and Caregivers Can Help

Your role as a Trusted Adult in your child’s life is more critical than ever to help prevent school violence. Here’s how you can help provide a safer school community. 

How Educators Can Help

Your role as a Trusted Adult in your student’s life is more critical than ever. Here’s how you can help provide a safer school community. 

  • Register for our Learning Center. You’ll get access to all Know the Signs programming curriculum and activities, including Say Something, at no cost. 
  • Sign up for Educator News in your Inbox. You’ll join thousands of educators on ways to empower your students to reduce violence in your school community.  

How Everyone Can Help

Sandy Hook Promise and the Sandy Hook Promise Action fund are committed to policies that protect children from gun violence in their schools, homes, and communities. 

  • Spread the Word! Raise awareness on social media with our action kit. Honor gun violence survivors with action and stand with us to #ProtectOurKids from gun violence.