I applaud Jen Pauliukonis for her commentary pleading for our leaders to offer some kind of protection for our children from the gun violence that is becoming an everyday occurrence as opposed to a rare, news headline ("A back-to-school resolution," Sept. 1).
Like Ms. Pauliukonis, I cannot help but think about the events at Sandy Hook Elementary as I prepare my children for school each and every day because, like her, my children are the same age that the children at Sandy Hook were when they were killed that horrible day in December 2012.
The tragedy in Newtown had a profound effect on me as a parent and as a former elementary school teacher in the Baltimore County Public School system and as a human being. I can no longer sit idly by and do nothing. My boys are growing up in a world where bullying is taking on a whole new form. I was bullied and know all too well the effect it can have on a person's mental health. I want to help young people realize their actions can help prevent violence from occurring — to others or to themselves. I am asking you to join me in preventing gun violence — and all forms of violence — before it happens in our community.
Did you know that when it comes to violence, suicide and threats, most are known by at least one other individual before the incident occurs? In fact, in four out of five school shootings, the attacker told people of his or her plan ahead of time. Additionally, 70 percent of people who commit suicide told someone of their plans or gave some type of warning or indication. Imagine how much tragedy could be averted if these individuals said something?
Sandy Hook Promise, a national, nonprofit organization based in Newtown, Connecticut led by several family members whose loved ones were killed in the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, has developed no-cost prevention programs to try to protect children and prevent the senseless, tragic loss of life. One of those — "Say Something" — teaches students in grades 6-to-12 how to look for warning signs, signals and threats, especially in social media, from individuals who may want to hurt themselves or others and to say something to a trusted adult to get them help. The program is based on research conducted by Dr. Dewey Cornell and Dr. Reid Meloy, two leading national experts in threat assessment and intervention.
During the week of October 24-to-28, hundreds of schools and youth organizations across the United States will be participating in National Say Something Week organized by Sandy Hook Promise (sandyhookpromise.org.) The purpose is to raise awareness and educate students and the community through training, media events, advertising, public proclamations, contests and school awards. Say Something Week reinforces the power young people have to prevent tragedies and say something to a trusted adult.
I implore all The Sun's readers to help empower our young people to prevent violence before it takes place by signing up to participate in Say Something Week or working with local youth organizations and schools to implement Say Something.
Mandy Weinman, Lutherville