A variation on the adage "If You See Something, Say Something," first introduced in a jittery New York City after 9/11, is being adopted by schools at a time of heightened vigilance for the next classroom shooter.
Governor Dannel Malloy visited Danbury High School Thursday to mark this as "Say Something Week," endorsing a program that Sandy Hook Promise, a violence prevention group in Newtown, is making available to schools around the United States.
Malloy says about 70-percent of the time when someone wants to take their own life, they've already told someone what they're going to do. He continued by saying that increases to 75-percent of the time when someone commits an act of violence in a public place, they've given signs that they're going to do something just like that.
Mayor Mark Boughton also addressed the students. He called it an important program and important cultural change. He says a lot of these threats are shared on social media. He shared something with the students that he said they might not have known. Over the last few years, some of their peers have sent him messages they saw online. He forwarded it to the Detective Bureau, and the officers were able to track down the students before they could hurt themselves or others. Even if the student thinks the threat was a joke or not serious, everything on the internet needs to be taken seriously.
Mark Barden, the group's managing director, says warning signs of violence are often communicated in advance but not all young people know what to do with the information. Barden's son Daniel was killed on 12-14. Barden said young people are the eyes and ears of their schools and community. He wants to teach them how to properly identify and report threats, keeping themselves, their friends and their family safe. Barden told the students that they have the power to save lives.
The grassroots Sandy Hook Promise group says hundreds of schools and youth organizations around the U.S. are participating in Say Something Week. It has made available training materials and a planning guide to teach students in grades 6-12 to recognize warning signs, especially in social media, from people who may want to hurt themselves or others and then to contact a trusted adult for help.
Superintendent Dr. Sal Pascarella, who serves as president of the Connecticut Association of Public Schools Superintendents, has implemented “Say Something” and “Start with Hello,” programs. They focus on preventing violence, suicide and fear-inducing threats before they happen.
“Start with Hello” addresses social isolation, a growing epidemic in our schools and across the country and refers to the overwhelming feeling of being left out, lonely and treated as being invisible. This program teaches students in grades two through 12 skills necessary to reach out and include those who may be dealing with chronic isolation. It empowers students to create a culture of inclusion and connectedness within their school.