FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 1, 2020
Contact: Aimee Thunberg | [email protected] | 646.761.5579
Sandy Hook Promise advocates knowing the signs to maintain historically low school violence trends
NEWTOWN, CT — April 2020 marks the first month with no shootings on school grounds in nearly two decades, as schools in 43 states remained closed due to COVID-19. Last month was the first without a school shooting death. While acknowledging the sobering milestone, Sandy Hook Promise is raising concerns that the threat of violence persists, as its Crisis Center sees a concerning spike in life-threatening tips coming into its national Say Something Anonymous Reporting System — including reports of abuse, cyberbullying, suicidal thoughts, cutting, and other self-harm.
“We eagerly welcome each and every day that goes by without school shootings claiming the life of a single child, but that doesn’t mean violence hasn’t continued outside of school property,” said Nicole Hockley, co-founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise and mother of Dylan, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. “Stopping gun violence in America’s schools shouldn’t require a global pandemic. Preventing violence through education is just as critical for keeping kids safe while physically distancing at home as it is for students in the classroom.”
To date, more than 12 million people nationwide have participated in Sandy Hook Promise’s proven Know the Signs programs that focus on prevention to help end the epidemic of school violence by training youth and adults how to identify at-risk behavior and intervene to get help before a tragedy occurs. Federal grants from the STOP School Violence Act can provide essential funding to bring this life-saving education into every school. Through these no-cost programs, Sandy Hook Promise has averted multiple school shooting plots, teen suicides and countless other acts of violence.
“It’s clear that this difficult, uncertain time is creating significant mental stress and anxiety for kids and their families,” said Mark Barden, co-founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise and father of Daniel, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. “In order to continue decreasing school shootings until no other parent loses a child to gun violence, it is critical to teach students to recognize warning signs of potential violence and self-harm and to know when and how to take action. Knowing the signs saves lives – whether students are at home or in school.”
Sandy Hook Promise provided special online tools during National Youth Violence Prevention Week, March 30 to April 3, 2020, encouraging students and parents to take time during that week to help prevent youth violence — even while students are at home. The free, online resources give educators and parents valuable tools to keep young people connected and safe while they spend more time at home and outside of school.
“We know that students confined to their homes can be at a greater risk of cyberbullying, suicide and depression, and incidents of domestic violence and emotional abuse could increase,” said Hockley. “Physical distancing must not result in social isolation — especially for young people, who often rely on their peers and teachers for support.”
Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) is a national nonprofit organization based in Newtown, Connecticut. SHP is led by several family members whose loved ones were killed in the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. SHP’s mission is to create a culture engaged in preventing shootings, violence, and other harmful acts in schools. Through its proven “Know the Signs” programs, SHP educates and empowers youth and adults to recognize, intervene, and get help for individuals who may be socially isolated and/or at risk of hurting themselves or others. SHP is a moderate, above-the-politics organization that supports sensible program and policy solutions that address the “human side” of gun violence by preventing individuals from ever getting to the point of picking up a firearm to hurt themselves or others. Our words, actions, and impact nationwide are intended to honor all victims of gun violence by turning our tragedy into a moment of transformation. Make the Promise at www.sandyhookpromise.org.