September was back-to-school season, which meant that people were shopping for school essentials like folders and notebooks. At the same time, a video by the non-profit advocacy group Sandy Hook Promise debuted and appeared to be a normal commercial advertising school supplies, but the kids demonstrate the need for pencils, notebooks and other supplies as they flee, fight, help injured classmates, and hide out in a bathroom stall to avoid a shooter. The video’s use of scare tactics to spread awareness about the danger of school shootings is part of a larger problem: American students are being taught to fear school rather than prepare for the reality of school shootings.
The co-founder of Sandy Hook Promise, Nicole Hockley, is the mother of a 6-year-old who was killed in the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012. She has another son whom she wants to teach all the preventive measures and ensure that he will be prepared if something tragic should happen again. Hockley insists that the harshness of the matter should not be sugar-coated when teaching students about school shootings.
A teacher at MATCH Charter Public Middle School, Desiree Mitchell, said that “scare tactics aren't even needed because frankly, people are already scared...I don't know that we need more knowledge that there's school shootings, everyone already knows that.”
“This is what our kids are experiencing and yet there are no actions we can take to prevent it,” Hockley said in an interview with CNN. Her main message is that parents need to better equip their children to take action and be ready when something happens.
Currently, in places like Michigan, schools are being built with bulletproof windows and curved hallways. That $40 million invested in the building could send 800 students to college. Is the sheltering and preparing normalizing shootings? Is this the way that people should spread awareness?
The Sandy Hook video is promoting fear and teaching kids that causing chaos to get attention is an option when you’re struggling with mental health issues. What we should be teaching students is that gun violence is never an option when struggling with life.
Instead, we need to do more research to better understand mental health issues. In recent years, suicide rates have significantly increased. Netflix shows like “13 Reasons Why,” can come across as romanticizing suicide. Within a month after the show was released, suicides rates jumped reported The Guardian. Also, kids often joke about shooting up a school when they feel frustrated or think the curriculum is unjust. Among students, news of a school shooter is tossed around and not taken seriously.
In some cases, fear can be effective at getting across the significant danger and reality of school shootings, but it should always be a last resort. Even though the founder of this video views fear as the most impactful way to get the importance through students’ minds, it teaches irrational fear.
Although Hockley said we’re not in “this rosy time,” preventative measures can be taught in different ways that can be just as effective but with less fear. Kids are now used to hearing about their peers getting killed, but should this be the norm for them?
What does it mean for their future lives, expecting their friends to be killed for no reason, attending school thinking you could die? The way our society chooses to go about this is not just affecting the kids of today, but also what these kids than teach to their kids for generations to come.