Saturday, December 3, 2016

Trigger Warning: PSA on Gun Violence

The video you are about to watch (PLEASE watch it before continuing to read my blog post) has been shared by over ten of my Facebook friends since it was posted to YouTube yesterday:


This video struck a chord with me for many reasons. As a future educator, I would be lying if I said I had not trembled in my bed thinking about the possibility of a school shooting in my future school. My dad, as a policeman, has taught A.L.I.C.E. training with the local schools in Iowa City and Coralville, and I personally have completed V.I.D.S. training through UNI three times. (I feel that I have retained new information from each training and do not regret doing the same program multiple times  - more practice only increases your chances of the correct response in case you are in a real incident.) But these trainings have only taught me how to respond if a violent incident does occur. As an educator, I should be on the lookout for abnormal student behaviors that indicate a student may be thinking about or planning this sort of attack. This video was impactful in a very personal way because a similar incident is possible in my future.

I, like you (probably), was completely focused on Evan and did not notice the student exhibiting warning behaviors in the background. I was disturbed to find myself so mesmerized by Evan that I only noticed the future gunman in one of the six scenes in which he was shown before the gym. (I noticed him as Evan was scrolling on his phone and thought the photo was odd, but I didn't put any more thought to it.) Though I know the purpose of the video was to subtly include these details to raise awareness through this shock, I still am embarrassed to admit that I missed the signs too.

Image used with permission from Bart Everson on flickr

In our Visual Literacy class last week, we talked about public service announcements. (I even blogged about it!) This one was powerful for many reasons, including the visuals and audio. As we are watching the beginning, the light guitar music, notion of a possible friendship or love connection, and Evan's connection with his secret note-passer from the library are happy and comforting. We are completely set up to be blissful when all of a sudden we're struck with terror: the gunman is a blurry figure in the background, shadowed by the bright light shining in behind him, the music stops and screaming paired with frantic running and fear ensues. Then, the screen goes black, and plain white text brings light to what we should have seen: the warning signs of the student in the background, clearly spelling out what we missed and urging us that "Gun violence is preventable when you know the signs," all the while playing slow, deep, mysterious, sad music. This advertisement was truly an emotional rollercoaster. I'll admit that I cried.

One of the things we talked about in class is that there are downsides to some ad campaigns. Sometimes advertisements encourage service that people don't follow up on, or they urge the donation of money with no clarity on where the money is going or what it will specifically be used for. This campaign is different; the purpose is to urge education, which is accessible to all through the website. We don't have to be a part of the organization in order to learn more about gun violence and how to prevent it.

Image used with permission from jarmoluk on pixabay.

The end of the commercial urges people to visit sandyhookpromise.org, a website dedicated to educating people about and preventing gun-related deaths. I was shaken up enough to go to the website and sign the pledge; were you?

What were your thoughts on this ad? Was it influential to you? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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