CNN

Chilling back-to-school PSA hopes to prevent mass shootings

Sep 18, 2019, 3:07 PM

(CNN) — It begins with a smiling teen boy, opening his locker to retrieve the “perfect” backpack that his mom bought him.

It ends with a young girl, in tears, texting a goodbye to her mother as a door opens and footsteps approach.

The “Back to School Essentials” public service announcement, which debuted Wednesday morning, purports to show off the items every student needs to have in the new school year. But in reality, it’s a chilling battle cry against school shootings which stresses that these acts of violence can be prevented.

You can watch it here. But be warned: it’s upsetting.

The PSA was created by Sandy Hook Promise, the nonprofit formed after the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, that killed 20 students and six adults.

In addition to the teen with the backpack, the PSA features cheery music and students showing off their new binders and headphones.

But then the PSA then takes a turn, showing a student running through a hallway.

“These new sneakers are just what I needed for the new year,” the student says as screams and gunshots are heard in the background.

Other students extol the virtues of jackets (to help secure doors), skateboards (to break windows), socks (to use as a tourniquet) and scissors and colored pencils (to fight off attackers).

It’s supposed to be emotional

But the PSA’s most harrowing image is the last one. A girl hides in a bathroom, clutching her sparkling pink phone.

“I finally got my own phone to stay in touch with my mom,” she says tearfully, just after texting an “I love you” message to her mother. Then the sound of a door creaking open is heard, followed by footsteps entering her hiding place.

The spot ends with this ominous tag line: “It’s back to school time. You know what that means.”

The emotional starkness of the PSA is intentional.

“It’s meant to be an intense video,” Nicole Hockley, managing director of Sandy Hook Promise, told CNN’s “New Day” Wednesday. Her son, 6-year-old Dylan Hockley, was killed in the Sandy Hook shooting. “This is what our kids are experiencing now in school.”

Hockley said Sandy Hook Promise puts out a new PSA at the start of every school year to teach people that school shootings and gun violence can be prevented.

“We wanted to focus on this back-to-school time because parents still think of it as this rosy time where you’re getting your staplers, shoes, folders and binders,” she said. “Whereas, it’s back to a time of violence for a lot of kids.”

The PSA fits Sandy Hook Promise’s mission to empower America’s school kids with tools so they can look after themselves and their peers.

She hasn’t given up hope

Asked if she was surprised that the latest mass shootings in California, Ohio and Texas hadn’t spurred Congress to act on gun violence, Hockley said the conversation around guns is slowly changing.

“I think each time, sadly, we are moving closer to the time that it’s going to be different (after a shooting). A lot has changed since Sandy Hook,” said said. “The recent back-to-back shootings are so heartbreaking. The conversation continues to happen. More people are getting involved. Legislation is available in Congress right now that can start to chip away at these acts of violence. Prevention, plus legislation, that’s the cure to this.”

She adds that a universal background check bill that passed the House but is stalled in the Senate isn’t controversial legislation. She feels the people want it so Congress should respond.

She remains confident that the work that Sandy Hook Promise and others are doing to address gun violence can reverse the “new normal” in America’s schools.

“I always have hope. I absolutely know that we can prevent this,” she said. “I know we can stem this tide. We just need to keep chipping away.”

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team. here.

Today’s Top Stories

CNN

holiday deals...
Matt Egan, CNN

Shoppers are dipping into savings and going into debt. That could cause a holiday hangover

The problem, however, is that many Americans' paychecks are not keeping up with stubborn inflation.
6 hours ago
U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and later...
Jennifer Hansler, Kylie Atwood, Jeremy Herb and MJ Lee, CNN

WNBA star Brittney Griner released from Russian detention in prisoner swap for convicted arms dealer

The Biden administration repeatedly made offers to get Whelan released as part of this deal, even after Russia made clear only Griner was acceptable.
1 day ago
...
Jeff Zeleny, Eva McKend and Gregory Krieg, CNN

Georgia voters once again have the last word during election season

During a campaign rally for Warnock in Atlanta last week, former President Barack Obama stressed the immediate impact of Democrats potentially winning a 51st Senate seat.
3 days ago
This photos shows the gate to the Duke Energy West End substation in Moore County, N.C. on Sunday, ...
Nouran Salahieh and Hannah Sarisohn, CNN

Tens of thousands still in the dark after ‘targeted’ attacks on North Carolina power substations

With no suspects or motive announced, the FBI joins the investigation into power outages in a North Carolina county.
3 days ago
Man who shot Lady Gaga's dog walker...
Taylor Romine and Elizabeth Wolfe, CNN

Man involved in shooting Lady Gaga’s dog walker sentenced to prison

The dog walker, Ryan Fischer, was walking Lady Gaga's three French bulldogs on February 24, 2021 when he was accosted and shot.
3 days ago
goblin mode...
Christian Edwards, CNN

‘Goblin mode’ chosen as Oxford word of the year for 2022

According to OUP, the term refers to a behavior which is "self-indulgent, lazy, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations."
4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Chilling back-to-school PSA hopes to prevent mass shootings