Jarring back-to-school ad hopes to bring an end to mass shootings


(WPRI) — A powerful, heart-stopping PSA created by Sandy Hook Promise is shedding light on violence in schools.

The new advertisement called “Back-To-School Essentials” hopes to raise awareness for signs of violence in children and bring an end to deadly school shootings.

The message is simple: “School shootings are not inevitable. They are preventable.”

It begins as if it is a commercial for back-to-school supplies but takes a dark turn as students begin fleeing from an apparent shooter.

“These new sneakers are just what I needed for the new year,” one student says while running down the hallway as gunshots ring out behind him.

The ad ends with a girl texting her mother “I love you” as she hides in what appears to be a bathroom stall.

“I finally got a phone so I can stay in touch with my mom,” she tearfully explains.

DISCLAIMER: “This PSA contains graphic content related to school shootings that may be upsetting to some viewers. If you feel that this subject matter may be too difficult for you, you may choose not to watch this video.”

On Dec. 4, 2012, a shooter forced his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and killed 20 students and six staff members. The children killed were between 6 and 7 years old.

Sandy Hook Promise Managing Director Nicole Hockley, whose son Dylan was killed in the mass shooting, said parents should be vigilant when it comes to their child’s behavior.

“Parents still think of back-to-school as a rosy time where you’re getting your staplers, shoes, folders, binders,” Hockley explained. “Where actually it’s back to a time of violence for a lot of kids.”

Mark Barden’s son Daniel was also killed in the massacre. He hopes those who watch the advertisement are inspired to take action.

“It’s not easy and it shouldn’t be,” he said of the advertisement. “We’re talking about a school shooting; you can’t sanitize that, nor should you.”

More: Sandy Hook Promise »

The video puts pressure on lawmakers to take action after back-to-back shootings this past summer.

“Prevention plus legislation can cure this,” Hockley said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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