It looks like a typical autumn, back to school commercial set in a generic elementary school where a young boy shows off the orange zippers on his new backpack, sending a smile full of braces. It begins innocently and innocuously with happy kids with their new art supplies, binders and headphones that they have brought to school, when they suddenly use skateboards, scissors, jackets and cell phones in life-or-death moments, as we hear the familiar pop, pop, pop.
The students run for their lives. A young girl hides in a bathroom stall, crying silently as she types, “I love you mom” on her new smartphone, while her voice-over says “I finally got my own phone to stay in touch with my mom” with the ominous sound of a creaking door with approaching footsteps in the background.
This one-minute ad, which started airing Wednesday, is the latest in a series of gut-wrenching videos by school safety advocacy group Sandy Hook Promise. The video is titled Back To School Essentials and it depicts kids dealing with the threat of gun violence in everyday life. The PSA fades to darkness with a nearly empty screen except the words:
“It’s back to school time and you know what that means. School shootings are preventable when you know the signs. “
Last year was the deadliest on record for school shootings. 83 died or were injured in active-shooter incidents. Since Columbine, at least 228,000 students have been exposed to gun violence at school. The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting of 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14, 2012, left 28 people dead. 22 were children.
Will shocking videos change anything?