By Laurie Gibbons
My name is Laurie Gibbons and I am a Manhasset mother of three beautiful little girls. I was recently moved to support an organization called Sandy Hook Promise. Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) is a nonprofit led by family members who lost loved ones at Sandy Hook Elementary School [three years ago] on Dec. 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 seemingly simple, yet powerful steps to keep our kids and communities safe.
There are, on average, 500,000 gun-related acts committed each year in the U.S. 30,000 adults and children lose their lives each year due to homicide, suicide or accidental discharge. 80,000 people are wounded and 390,000 are traumatized “witnesses” to these acts. These figures have remained unchanged since 2004. Lack of mental wellness, mental illness and access to firearms are the core causes of gun-related deaths and injuries. Despite 300,000 lives lost over the past 10 years, minimal progress has been made to save more lives. Many of us have children and grandchildren, and these numbers really hit home. Often we are not sure what we can do to make a difference.
SHP offers valuable tools and resources for parents, including meaningful actions that you can do within your home. Many of these activities take only minutes and have no cost. Moreover, they are evidence based and incredibly powerful. These tools and meaningful actions include:
• Teaching your child to be a good bystander. Over the last 25 years, research has revealed that in seven out of ten acts of gun violence, a friend(s) was told that an act of violence would be committed or may take place. In one study, it was reported that in four out of five school shootings, the attacker had told people of his plans ahead of time. “Say Something” is an education and awareness tool that empowers youth and young adults to recognize an imminent threat a friend, peer or sibling has made via social media, text or in person towards themselves or someone else and take action to intervene.
• Building community connectedness. Young people who are isolated or bullied can further pull back from society and become at greater risk for hurting themselves or someone else. SHP seeks to teach children, teens and young adults how to be socially inclusive by learning the causes and signs of exclusion or isolation and what actions to take to be more inclusive and connected.
To sign up to receive important information and valuable tools for keeping our kids safe, or to become a Promise Leader yourself, please visit www.sandyhookpromise.org.