Television commercials usually are designed to entice you to buy something.
Cola wars, early holiday ads and a variety of commercials bombard our sets daily.
One commercial lately really made an impact. It’s not about finding the perfect place to shop or the right bag of potato chips.
The commercial doesn’t want me to buy something. It wants me to think.
It starts out as a typical back-to-school message talking about backpacks and folders. But soon you notice something wrong. It subtly starts with things going on in the background, but grows.
The commercial moves on to a boy and his new sneakers running down the hall, a child with new headphones not hearing the chaos that started in the library and another boy with a new skateboard he uses to break out a window as a way of escape. Other images are of a girl using her new jacket to secure a door, children holding school supplies preparing to defend themselves and another girl using her new socks to treat a wound.
The end of the commercial is the most heartbreaking image. It’s of a girl, sobbing in a bathroom texting “I love you” to her mom. She talks about the new phone she got for school to communicate with her mom. Then a door opens and she hears footsteps.
The message is haunting and stops me in my tracks every time.
It’s part of an ad campaign by Sandy Hook Promise, a non-profit organization made up of family members whose loved ones were killed Dec. 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School. During that shooting, 20 students and six adults were killed. Some were as young as 6.
The commercial and the reason it exists has heavily weighed on my mind.
I’m reminded of a lunch with some friends and their children. The two older children talked very nonchalantly about active shooter drills performed at school. One talked about which play centers they were supposed to go to and the other talked about staying low and quiet. I looked at their dad’s face which suddenly turned pale.
It was terrifying for him to hear them talk about it as if it was just a part of life at school. Along with reading, math, science and other normal aspects of education, this type of safety training now is a part of a child’s reality.
That concept should break your heart into a thousand pieces.
When I see the Sandy Hook Promise commercial, I think about all my friends’ children and the fact that in 2019 they don’t just have tornado and fire drills. They have to do drills on human-made dangers.
The Sandy Hook Promise: “I promise to do all I can to protect children from gun violence by encouraging and supporting solutions that create safer, healthier homes, schools and communities.”
It’s about knowing the signs and trying to stop this type of violence before it ever sets foot into a school.
I wish we didn’t live in a world where there’s a need for this commercial – which won’t stay off my mind.
I wish we had a reality where students could go to school and not have an active shooter drill.
I wish my friends wouldn’t have to be terrified at the idea their child’s everyday school life includes where to hide if there’s danger in the school.
I wish for us all to be more aware and to help keep something such as this from happening again.