This School Gun Violence PSA Has a Chilling Twist We All Need to See

Parents of Sandy Hook victims helped make this powerful PSA
Sandy Hook Promise/YouTube

Almost four years have passed since the tragic Sandy Hook shooting occurred in Newtown, Connecticut, claiming the lives of 20 children and six adults. It's an event that shook our nation and families to the core and one we'll never forget. Sadly, there have been close to 200 shootings on school grounds since Sandy Hook, and that's a chilling reminder of the fight for peace and safety that still lies ahead. This PSA video about gun violence warning signs from the Sandy Hook Promise organization is shocking and haunting, but nonetheless, something all parents -- and their teens -- need to watch.


"Evan" is a visual project that's a part of Sandy Hook Promise's "Know the Signs" research-based program. Although the video seems to focus on Evan, it really follows another fictitious teen who displays signs of future acts of violence that no one seems to notice until it's too late.

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Can you spot them?


"Gun violence is preventable when you know the signs."

A strong fascination or obsession with firearms.

A victim of bullying or a perceived feeling of being picked on.

Unsupervised, illegal, and/or easy access to firearms.

These are just a few of the school violence warning signs that Sandy Hook Promise notes could be indicators a student or person is contemplating self-harm or hurting others.

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Nicole Hockley, mother of a young boy (Dylan) who was killed during the Sandy Hook shooting, teamed up after the tragedy with other family members who lost a loved one during the Sandy Hook incident and cofounded Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit that aims to educate and empower "parents, schools and community organizations on how to prevent gun violence BEFORE it happens by delivering and advocating for mental health and wellness early-intervention programs, gun safety storage practices and sensible state and federal policy."

Watching this video took me back to my days in high school and all the feels I had hoping someone I crushed on would notice me. I remember how much I anticipated certain periods, like Evan did, and found myself in my own little world.

And then the Columbine shooting happened in 1999 (I was a sophomore in high school), which completely changed everything -- including how alert I became about others and my surroundings.

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It's easy to get caught up in the everyday narratives that often occur in schools -- like this cutesy "love story" between Evan and the unnamed student who responds to his notes on the library desk -- and completely miss a future gunman's actions and common warning signs that seemingly go ignored.

My heart breaks for any parent who's lost a precious child to unthinkable gun violence. I'm thankful for Nicole and Sandy Hook Promise's efforts to keep such terrifying concerns at the forefront of our minds so we don't brush off the fear by saying "not my child" in disbelief. We need to be alert and let our kids know it's okay to speak up if they see something.

It just might save a life.

I believe in community, and I believe it takes a village to help raise a child. I want my boys to grow up enjoying their days in school that, God willing, do not ever involve such an inconceivable tragedy happening on their campus. I also want my kids to be kind and look out for others. I want them to care about students, like the student who later became the gunman, for the sake of those kids' well-being and their own. 

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As frightening and unexpected as this video is, we need it -- and so do our children. Shining a light on actions that often happen in plain view (that we often don't pay attention to) is the reminder we all need to be more alert, speak up, and get more involved.

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