As a decade passes since the organization’s founding, Sandy Hook Promise looks toward a new year of advances in keeping kids safe
NEWTOWN, Conn. — January 14, 2023 will mark the 10th anniversary of Sandy Hook Promise, which was co-founded by some of the family members whose loved ones were killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The organization has seen tremendous successes in its life-saving work, including averting at least 12 credible planned school shooting attacks through its signature “Know the Signs” prevention programs.
“Even during our darkest time, we knew we had to do something meaningful to honor our loved ones and prevent these tragedies from happening to others. We chose the path of turning our personal tragedy into a moment of transformation, to build a national movement to stop school shootings and gun violence. We chose to focus our life’s mission on keeping kids safe,” said Nicole Hockley, co-founder and CEO of Sandy Hook Promise and mother of Dylan, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. “Our Know the Signs programs save lives every day, sparing other families from the unspeakable pain of having a loved one taken by preventable violence.”
According to an analysis of every major school shooting by the U.S. Secret Service, in almost every case, students observed warning signs before an act of violence took place. The report concluded that recognizing such signs is essential to prevention. Sandy Hook Promise’s Know the Signs programs teach what these warning signs are and how to get help from a trusted adult. All the programs are available at no-cost to schools, align with SEL curriculum requirements, and training can be delivered in a single class period.
Last year, Sandy Hook Promise expanded its reach by launching the Say Something: Elementary Animated Series. Education experts adapted the program specifically for students in grades K-5. The blended learning program includes a slideshow, interactive storybook, videos, lessons and activities.
“It’s never too early for kids to learn the warning signs of someone who may be at risk of harming themselves or others,” said Sandy Hook Promise Chief Program Officer Crystal Garrant. “Expanding the impact of the Say Something program into elementary schools will ensure that K-5 teachers and students have the grade-appropriate resources they need to recognize the signs and how to get help.”
To further advance the youth-centered behavior change generated by its signature Know the Signs programs, Sandy Hook Promise is expanding its research on school safety and violence prevention. It is also working more deeply with communities at heightened risk for violence and shootings towards cultural change.
Over the last decade, Sandy Hook Promise also has advocated for common-sense gun safety policies, achieving significant legislative changes, including passage of the “Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.” That legislation addresses the rising rates of gun violence nationwide and includes enhanced background checks for buyers under the age of 21 (partially closing the dating loophole, also known as the “boyfriend” loophole), funding to support states in implementing extreme risk protection orders, and additional funding for mental health services and school safety.
“Our children were killed because nobody took action on the warning signs to stop the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre from happening,” said Mark Barden, co-founder and CEO of the Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund and father of Daniel, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. “Gun violence is preventable when we take action to save lives, including legislative action to pass gun safety measures.”
The organization continues to advocate for state and federal gun safety legislation that both protects the Second Amendment and protects communities from gun violence. By promoting common sense policies that respect the rights of responsible gun owners, Sandy Hook Promise has been able to bring Republicans and Democrats together to support life-saving legislation.
“Every community in the U.S. is at risk,” said Barden. “Gun violence is not a partisan issue; it’s an American public health epidemic and gun violence prevention must be a top priority for lawmakers at all levels.”
The poignant Promise made by the Newtown community members who co-founded Sandy Hook Promise 10 years ago still undergirds every aspect of the organization’s work. Its hopeful message born of unspeakable tragedy drives the cultural transformation that Sandy Hook Promise is catalyzing through the Know the Signs programs, youth empowerment initiatives, and nonpartisan policy solutions that are proving to save lives:
“This is a Promise:
To truly honor the lives lost by turning our tragedy into a moment of transformation.
“This is a Promise:
To be open to all possibilities. There is no agenda other than to make our nation a safer, better place.
“This is a Promise:
To have the conversations on ALL the issues. Conversations where listening is as important as speaking; where even those with the most opposing views can debate in good will.
“This is a Promise:
To turn the conversation into actions. Things must change. This is the time.
”This is a Promise we make to our precious children. Because each child, every human life is filled with promise.”
Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) envisions a future where all children are free from school shootings and other acts of violence. As a national nonprofit organization, SHP’s mission is to educate and empower youth and adults to prevent violence in schools, homes, and communities. Creators of the life-saving, evidence-informed “Know the Signs” prevention programs, SHP teaches the warning signs of someone who may be in crisis, socially isolated, or at-risk of hurting themselves or others and how to get help. SHP also advances school safety, youth mental health, and responsible gun ownership at the state and federal levels through nonpartisan policy and partnerships. 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.
Aimee Thunberg | [email protected] | 646-761-5579