Sandy Hook Promise's Back to school PSA shamefully exploits (and terrifies) kids

“It’s back to school time and you know what that means.” Sandy Hook Promise released a Public Service Announcement (PSA) this week as a back to school message on mass shootings in schools. The purpose is alleged to be to encourage conversation between parents and children.

The problem with the PSA, though, is it is the latest example of exploiting children in order to deliver a political message from adults. It is meant to shock the viewer and uses school kids talking about new school supplies to do so. The title is “Back-to-School Essentials”. It opens with a boy and his new backpack and a girl with new binders.

As you see, by the time the third student is shown with his new earphones, the background action is becoming clear. It begins to get chaotic and the kids start to use their new supplies as tools of survival. It ends with a girl in a bathroom stall texting her mother as the viewer hears the bathroom door open and footsteps of what we are to assume are the shooter.

The PSA ends with “School shootings are preventable when you know the signs.” This is where the video ad fails. A PSA is supposed to educate. The only information delivered here outside of the dramatic use of school supplies is a phone number offered of Sandy Hook Promise and website.

It comes off as child exploitation. Just as the climate change extremists are using children to push their political agenda, the gun grabbers are doing the same with this type of action. Sandy Hook Promise is using child actors to strike fear into parents and students in order to begin conversations about school shootings. It strikes me as being in the vein of shock jock radio – just grab the attention of the audience with crude or exploitive language, or in this case, visuals of children in harm’s way.

Their videos get eyes on them, that’s for sure. The press release for this video states that one video in 2016 received a billion views worldwide. Think how much more effective their PSA would be if it actually delivered information for the parents to give to the kids. How about mentioning “the signs” mentioned at the end of the PSA? It doesn’t have to be detailed but signs in general. For example, in health-related PSAs, signs of diseases are mentioned without going into medical detail.

There is no need to shock people about school shootings or mass shootings in general. Everyone is already well aware of the tragedies and loss of life. I don’t think exploiting children for dramatic effect will move people on either side of the debates going on about Second Amendment rights.

This video plays into the stress of the drills that happen now in many schools. Students are taught what to do if a shooting happens. This is necessary and a sign of the times. It is scary for them and that’s understandable. The only thing I can think of from my school days that might compare is the drills during the Cold War and worries of a nuclear attack. The burden is on parents and teachers, though, to keep students calm and don’t overreach to the point of adding to the stress of an event that statistically likely won’t happen.

The environmental alarmists have freaked out kids at such young ages that they are suffering emotional distress and this is child abuse, in my opinion. Next thing you know, kids are skipping school and marching in the streets with their parents and teachers. The Parkland students were exploited by the gun-grabbing lobby, and funded by billionaires, like Michael Bloomberg, as they took bus tours across the country.

The Sandy Hook Promise Foundation fails to meet some standards set by The BBB Wise Giving Alliance.

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The Foundation is not rated by Charity Navigator because it hasn’t yet filed 7+ years of Form 990s.

Sandy Hook Promise usually releases a video at the end of the year, about the time of the anniversary of the shooting. This year they released it at the beginning of the school year and hope to make it an annual event.

Sandy Hook Promise usually releases a PSA in December, around the anniversary of the school shooting. They play on the major networks and across digital platforms. Co-founder Mark Barden says this is the first release around the start of the school year, and he hopes it becomes a routine discussion for back-to-school time.

“Our students should be worried about just the regular back-to-school things like their clothes and their folders and their backpacks and their lunchbox,” Barden said. “Not how to respond or hide or evacuate in a school shooting.”

Barden says Sandy Hook Promise has trained more than 7.5 million students and adults in preventing mass casualty incidents and suicides.