By Donna Deedy
People are calling for reform after the recent spate of mass shootings that included an elementary school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 young children and two teachers were shot in their classroom with an automatic assault rifle.
“We are witnessing an absolute epidemic and the loss and slaughter of innocence and that must stop,” said New York State Assemblyman Steven Englebright (D-Setauket). Corporate greed, he said, has mixed with a movement that has become very muddled. “People identify with guns.”
Englebright pointed to Governor Kathy Hochul’s (D) June 6 response to the latest school tragedy. According to a press release, she “signed a historic legislative package to immediately strengthen state gun laws, close critical loopholes exposed by shooters in Buffalo and Uvalde, and protect New Yorkers from the scourge of armed violence”.
What exactly can one person do to reverse the epidemic of gun violence plaguing the country?
The non-profit group Sandy Hook Promise has presented a comprehensive answer to this question. Founded by some of the parents whose first graders were murdered at their Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, the group took a holistic approach to the situation and they say they lead out of love. Their programs combine community outreach and mental health research with effective prevention strategies, while separately advocating for sensible, bipartisan gun safety policies.
“Take your grief, your fear, your anger and your sadness, and put them into action,” said Nicole Hockley and Mark Barden, co-founders and CEOs of Sandy Hook Promise, who each lost a son in the tragedy of Newtown. “We must act today and every day until this epidemic of violence is over.”
So far, more than 14 million people and 23,000 schools nationwide have participated in Sandy Hook Promise programs, according to their website, which has led to 115,000 anonymous tips and 321 confirmed lives saved. to crisis interventions.
Here in Suffolk County, Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr. (D) started the Sandy Hook Promise Know the Signs initiative in 2018, his first year in office.
“After the shooting in Parkland, Florida, I made school safety a priority for the sheriff’s office,” Toulon said.
Over the past few years, county officers have trained more than 30,000 students, teachers, and staff in Sandy Hook’s methods. Miller Place, East Islip, Central Islip, Lindenhurst and Bridgehampton are a few school districts that have participated in the program.
Toulon said they are proud to have partnered with the Sandy Hook Foundation and are encouraging more people to take part in their life-saving movement.
“Now, more than ever, programs like Sandy Hook Promise are needed as threats to schools increase,” he said.
TBR News Media reached out to a few school districts in our broadcast area for comment on their programs. Through their public relations firm, the Smithtown Central School District preferred not to participate in the story, but it publishes position papers on mental health and social and emotional learning on the district’s website. . Three Village has stated that it is not affiliated with Sandy Hook Promise. We did not receive a response to follow-up questions about their programs before the press deadline.
Sandy Hook Promise encourages anyone interested in seeking community support for its programs to become a “Promise Leader” by registering on its website.
Here is a brief overview of the Sandy Hook Promise programs:
There are four distinct programs developed by educators who specialize in curriculum development. All of this can be accessed in person or online through the Sandy Hook Promise Learning Center at no charge. Their award-winning programs include lesson plans, activities, games and discussion guides. Anyone who registers on the group’s website, www.sandyhookpromise.org, can access the charity’s free digital library which includes training sessions. The Start with Hello and Say Something programs both fall under the organization’s Know the Signs program.
Start with Hello
Start with Hello teaches children and young people how to minimize social isolation and empathize with others to create a more socially inclusive and connected culture. This lesson is explained in three steps: 1. See someone alone; 2. Reach out and help; 3. Begin with Hello.
Experts say people who are at risk of harming themselves or others often show warning signs before committing an act of violence. Sandy Hook Promises trains middle and high school students to spot these signs and do something about them. This program also follows a three-step approach: 1. Recognize the signs of someone at risk, especially on social media; 2. Act immediately and take it seriously; 3. Learn how to intervene by telling a trusted adult or using the program’s anonymous reporting system.
Say something Anonymous reporting system
The Say Something Anonymous reporting system can be used when students see classmates who are at risk of harming themselves or others. This requires additional training for school district personnel and local law enforcement. It would be the only anonymous reporting system in the United States that offers training with a mobile app, website and hotline – exclusively for schools.
The charity also runs its National Crisis Center which operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Experienced crisis counselors trained in suicide prevention, crisis management and mental health support respond to advice.
So far, more than 120 school districts are participating in this program, along with the states of Pennsylvania and North Carolina. A web form is available for schools and organizations wishing to register to access this system.
Savings Promise Club
Students interested in starting a club or leading a committee within an existing club receive, at no cost, Sandy Hook Promise tools, so they can plan activities that promote kindness and inclusiveness to instill value of caring for each other in their community. The club, called Students Against Violence Everywhere, is supported by a contract with the US Department of Education’s Office of Safe & Supportive Schools and can be accessed from the government website: safesupportivelearning.ed.gov/resources. The initiative reinforces the key messages of the Start with Hello and Say Something programs.
Gun Safety Policies
Sandy Hook Promise’s mission is to end school shootings and create a culture change that prevents violence and other harmful acts that hurt children. He advocates what he calls sensible, bipartisan gun safety policies to support this goal. They have created a sister organization, called an action fund, which works to pass legislation that advances issues of school safety, mental health and gun violence prevention.
“We believe in Second Amendment protection,” said Sandy Hook Promise media contact Aimee Thunberg. “But we support policies that promote safe gun ownership to keep our children and communities safe.”
The group supports bipartisan background check legislation that recently passed the House of Representatives, but still needs Senate attention. The organization also supports extreme risk protection orders, or red flag laws, which allow family and law enforcement to seek court assistance to temporarily separate people in crisis from firearms. fire. New York State’s Red Flag Act was implemented in August 2019 with approximately 160 guns seized in Suffolk County, more than any other county in the state. The organization also advocates bans on assault weapons and limits on high-capacity magazines to prevent more mass shootings.
Anyone who wishes can get involved to help the Sandy Hook mission. In addition to programs for parents, students, teachers, and other youth organizations, Sandy Hook Promise welcomes volunteers to help present their programs at community events to build awareness.
Otherwise, in response to the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas, Sandy Hook Promise has compiled a list of very specific things people can do to help end gun violence. It is available at www.sandyhookpromise.org/blog/gun-violence/what-you-can-do-right-now-to-help-end-gun-violence.
“Our key message is that gun violence is preventable, and we have actions each individual can take in their families, communities, schools, and with politicians,” Nicole Hockley said in a recent blog post. “Don’t back down. Be part of the solution.
TBR News Media is asking readers who have participated in the Sandy Hook Promise programs to email us at [email protected] and tell us about your experience.