By Julia Mancini (Intern, APA Office on Children, Youth and Families)
It is crucial for schools to be supportive environments for youth learning and growth. Too often, they become places of violence and fear. Nationwide, it has been found that 6% of children do not go to school at least once a month because they fear for their own safety at or on their way to school1. This shows that this place that should foster healthy development can be a source of traumatic experiences. Further, violent and toxic school environments are all too common and hinder educational, social and personal development. School should be a place where children can express themselves and be comfortable reaching their maximum potential.
On December 14th, 2012, 20 first graders and 6 educators were shot and killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. This tragedy has been central to many of the conversations surrounding gun violence in schools and hits close to home for many.
Research has shown that when it comes to violence, suicide and threats, most are known by at least one other individual before the incident takes place.
Imagine how much tragedy could be averted if these individuals said something?
Say Something Week raises much needed awareness and educates the community, students, and educators through media events, advertising, public proclamations, contests, and school awards. It provides the confidence and tools to create a safer and healthier school environment. It is important to create positive dialogue around school safety in order to be proactive against community violence and fear.
Say Something Week empowers children to help others and prevent tragedies. They are taught to ‘Say Something’ to a trusted adult to prevent a friend from harming themselves or others. This programing has the potential to save lives in the communities it reaches. Though it is a daunting task to ensure that no student ever has to go to school in fear, campaigns such as Say Something Week can work with schools and youth programs to maximize their safety, learning, and potential.
What is Say Something Week?
While there is no simple solution to this problem, Striving to Prevent Youth Violence Everywhere (STRYVE) and Sandy Hook Promise are partnering to implement the Second Annual Say Something Week.
STRYVE is a multi-sector consortium of organizations that work nationally to support local youth violence prevention efforts in states and communities. Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) is a national, nonprofit organization based in Newtown, Connecticut. They are led by several family members whose loved ones were killed in the tragic mass shooting. SHP is focused on preventing gun violence (and other forms of violence and victimization) before it happens by educating and mobilizing youth and adults on mental health and wellness programs that identify, intervene and help at-risk individuals. Their goal is to honor all victims of gun violence by turning their tragedy into a moment of transformation.
How can you be a part of this?
Consider joining Sandy Hook Promise, the American Psychological Association, and thousands of other school and youth organizations for the second annual Say Something Week from October 16-20th. To sign up, visit: http://www.sandyhookpromise.org/saysomethingweek
1 School Violence: Data and Statistics . (2017, August 22). Retrieved October 10, 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/youthviolence/schoolviolence/data_stats.html
Julia Mancini is currently a junior Psychology and Criminal Justice double major at George Washington University. Julia has a particular interest in children and families and is excited to be interning with the Children, Youth and Families office this fall. Julia has been involved with behavioral genetic research through The Boston University Twin Project. She also worked as a Clinical Research Intern at Safe Shores, DC’s Children’s Advocacy Center, investigating disparities in PTSD presentations among minority youth. This past summer Julia interned for the Child Protection Unit in the District Attorney’s office in her home state of Massachusetts. She also had the opportunity to work internationally with a non-profit in Cochabamba, Bolivia that provides psychological, legal, and social services to child survivors of sexual violence.