Letter To The Editor: If You See Something, Say Something

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saysomethingMy name is Laurie Gibbons and I am a Manhasset mother of three beautiful little girls. I’ve been heartbroken, angry and frustrated by the seemingly nonstop school shootings in our country, which is why I was recently moved to support an organization called Sandy Hook Promise.

Sandy Hook Promise is a nonprofit led by family members who lost loved ones at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012 and parents from the community. Sandy Hook Promise is supported by hundreds of concerned citizens, like me, who have signed up to become Promise Leaders. Promise Leaders work with Sandy Hook Promise to engage and empower parents and community members to take a seemingly simple, yet powerful steps to keep our kids and communities safe.

When it comes to acts of violence, including suicide and threats to others, most are communicated in some way before the incident occurs. In fact, in most school shootings, the attacker indicated his or her plans ahead of time, and a majority of people who die by suicide told someone of their intention or gave some type of warning or indication. Imagine how many of these tragedies could be averted if someone said something?

That’s the problem Sandy Hook Promise wants to solve. Their free program, “Say Something,” teaches students in grades 6 to 12 how to recognize warning signs, signals and threats, especially in social media, from friends or individuals who may want to hurt themselves or others and then to intervene and Say Something to a trusted adult to get help. The program is based on research conducted by national experts in threat assessment and intervention.

“Most of the time, warning signs of violence are communicated in advance, such as on social media, or can be observed in a person’s behavior. Unfortunately, not everyone knows what to do with that information,” said Mark Barden, managing director of Sandy Hook Promise and father of 7-year-old Daniel Barden, who was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. “Young people are the eyes and ears of their schools and community. We can teach them how to properly identify and report threats, keeping themselves, their friends and their family safe. They have the power to save lives.”

Next week, Oct. 19 to 23, Sandy Hook Promise is promoting Say Something Week. All schools and youth organizations are encouraged to register to participate at www.sandyhookpromise.org/saysomethingweek and help their students be trained in how to prevent tragedies and “Say Something” to a trusted adult. By participating they may also be eligible to apply for a special $10,000 “Say Something” award. (Rules and the entry form are on the website.)

“Our Say Something program has the potential to protect thousands of children,” said Nicole Hockley, Managing Director of Sandy Hook Promise and mother of 6-year-old Dylan Hockley who was also killed in the Sandy Hook tragedy. “We want schools and youth organizations across the country to join us Oct. 19 to 23 in raising awareness, educating students and the community and saving lives. Imagine how many families could be spared the agony of losing a loved one if teens knew how to Say Something about their peers who may be threatening to hurt themselves or others.”

Participating schools and youth organizations will be given digital access to no-cost and easy to implement Say Something training materials, presentations and a planning guide. The training can be done in an assembly, classroom or through student leaders and only takes 25 to 45 minutes.

For more information, contact programs@sandyhookpromise.org. Sandy Hook Promise will work with individuals, schools and community-based organizations to offset up to 100 percent of the training cost in order to reach and impact as many lives as possible.

Laurie Gibbons

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