Viewers left 'hysterically crying' at new video from Sandy Hook parents
19 September 2019, 19:35 | Updated: 25 October 2019, 15:04
Relatives of those killed in the Sandy Hook shooting have released a new “gut punching” video detailing the ways students can use their back-to-school accessories to survive an attack at school.
The video, released by the Sandy Hook Promise non-profit, starts out with several shots of schoolchildren showing off their new essentials for the beginning of the school year.
But the tone soon sours when students are then forced to demonstrate how these accessories can also be used to survive a shooting — one uses his new skateboard to smash a window to escape, while another uses her jumper to tie a door shut.
Survive the school year with these must-have #BackToSchool essentials. https://t.co/9KgxAQ0KGz— Sandy Hook Promise (@sandyhook) September 18, 2019
This PSA contains graphic content related to school shootings & may be upsetting to some viewers. If you feel this subject matter may be difficult for you, you may choose not to watch. pic.twitter.com/5ijYMtXRTy
Football socks can be used as tourniquets for those who are injured, the video continues, and stationary can be used as a defensive weapon.
One girl, seen hiding in a toilet stall, uses her new mobile phone to send the message: “I love you mum”, before someone is heard entering the room.
“It’s back to school time,” the video adds. “And you know what that means.”
Since its release on Wednesday, the video has been viewed millions of times, with 10.6 million people watching on Twitter, and a further 1.5 million on YouTube.
It has also been subject to widespread reaction, with some parents saying they were left “hysterically crying” thinking about the safety of their own children.
US filmmaker Kevin Smith said the video was both “incredibly well-made” and a “devastating take on school shootings that ends so disturbingly”.
He added: “I had to text my 20-year-old kid to make sure she was okay. She is...and yet, I’m still crying.”
Hollywood actress Patricia Arquette tweeted about the “powerful message” created in the footage, adding that it was “heartbreaking” to know “it is real”.
“We are putting our kids through this,” she wrote. “And we do not need to.”
On a technical level, this is an incredibly well-made PSA with riveting performances. On an emotional level, this is a devastating take on school shootings that ends so disturbingly, I had to text my 20 yr old kid to make sure she was okay. She is... And yet I’m still crying. https://t.co/cN86XiIyqH— KevinSmith (@ThatKevinSmith) September 18, 2019
This is such a powerful message and so heartbreaking that is it real. We are putting our kids through this. And we do not need to. Thank you for making this.— Patricia Arquette (@PattyArquette) September 18, 2019
Monica Lewinskey said it was “breaking my heart” to think the video could represent a “chilling new normal for young people going back to school.”
Another parent said she was "hysterically crying" thinking about her children aged five and six after watching the footage.
"My six-year-old learned how to hide from a shooter before she learned how to write her name," she wrote.
Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy added: "If you feel a gut punch watching this new PSA from Sandy Hook Promise (and I promise you will), today is the day to ask yourself what you are going to do to help stop school shootings."
If you feel a gut punch watching this new PSA from @sandyhook (and I promise that you will) today is the day to ask yourself what you are going to do to help stop school shootings. https://t.co/1jafRk76tE— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) September 18, 2019
Meanwhile, Delaney Tarr, a survivor of the Parkland high school shooting in Florida, recalled how she had text her mother during the incident in 2018: “Thinking I was going to die.”
The text read: “I love you if anything happens.”
“This is so harrowing, so true,” Ms Tarr then said of the Sandy Hook advert. “Watch it.”
I remember when I texted my mom, thinking I was going to die:— Delaney Tarr (@delaneytarr) September 18, 2019
I love you if anything happens.
This is so harrowing, so true. Watch it. pic.twitter.com/3EIP1p59AN
This had me hysterically crying thinking about my own 5 and 6 yo babies. My 6 yo, Charlotte, learned how to hide from a shooter before she learned how to write her name 😞 And my 12 & 14 yo daughters actually understand what they are practicing for. It's heartbreaking 😟💔— Chelsea 💖 #Bernie2020 🔥🤗✌🏼️ (@kelz3108) September 18, 2019
Speaking to NBC, Sandy Hook parent Nicole Hockley said the aim of the video was not to make people turn away.
“So pretending it doesn’t exist is not helping to solve it,” she said, adding: “At the end, the girl with the phone gets me every time.”
Ms Hockley’s six-year-old son Dylan was killed during the Sandy Hook attack, while her older son Jake survived. She is now the managing director of Sandy Hook Promise.
In total, 26 people were killed in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, including 20 children and six members of staff.