MARTINEZ, Calif. – Martinez Unified School District’s students in sixth through 12th grades have received training this week in how to use the Sandy Hook Promise’s anonymous reporting system, District Superintendent C.J. Cammack said.
The reporting system, which required concurrence with area law enforcement agencies, is one part of the Sandy Hook Promise program adopted last year by the District’s Board of Trustees.
Sandy Hook Promise is a nationwide nonprofit organization founded by in the wake of a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that took the lives of 20 children and six adults Dec. 14, 2012.
Adam Lanza, 20, who murdered his mother before attacking the school, shot himself as law enforcement officers entered the school.
A state attorney investigation of the tragedy did not identify a motive, but a report issued by the state attorney, Steven J. Sedensky III, noted Lanza had “significant mental health issues that affected his ability to live a normal life and to interact with others, even those to whom he should have been close.”
However, the investigation also found that mental health professionals “did not see anything that would have predicted his future behavior.”
Relatives and friends of those killed formed Sandy Hook Promise to provide a multiple-approach system to protect children from gun violence, and its mission is to find ways to intervene and prevent such acts from happening.
The organization’s premise is that people who are at risk of hurting themselves or others give off signs and signals before they act, and that a culture of inclusion may help those who feel isolated, invisible or vulnerable.
Programs teach how to recognize signs so that interventions can be used to prevent violence or self-harm, according to the nonprofit’s website, sandyhookpromise.org.
Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) is providing its anonymous Say Something Anonymous Reporting System (SS-ARS) around the clock to more than 7,000 school systems in all 50 states.
So far, 3.5 million students and adults have been trained, according to Cammack’s letter sent to parents to advise them of the training.
“They have a track record, reputation, and knowledge of how to work effectively with kids, parents, and teachers to improve school safety and culture,” he wrote. “The program is age-appropriate and research-based.”
Because of funding to provide and sustain the program, SS-ARS and other Sandy Hook Promise incident prevention programs are not costing the District, Cammack wrote.
“As a school district, we are committed to creating and sustaining a comprehensive, coordinated effort to improve the overall safety and well-being of our students, educators and administrators,” Cammack wrote.
“To do this, we believe this must involve community-wide programs and initiatives involving parents, teachers, administrators, local law enforcement, mental health and wellness professionals and elected officials to take meaningful action to protect our students,” he said.
The District’s training took place Thursday and Friday at Martinez Junior High School and Vicente-Briones schools, during which Sandy Hook Promise staff taught students how to use the Say Something Anonymous Reporting System, he explained.
Older students, rather than elementary-age pupils, received the instruction “in part because the content can be more intense than is appropriate for K-5 (kindergarten through fifth grade) students,” Cammack wrote in his letter.
Training in SS-ARS teaches students, teachers, and administrators how to recognize warning signs and signals, especially within social media, of individuals who may be a threat to themselves or others, Cammack wrote.
Students also were taught to speak to a trusted adult or to use the anonymous reporting system, he wrote.
The Sandy Hook Promise program urges people to take signs and signals seriously, and to seek help from adults or through the SS-ARS Crisis Center, which is open around the clock, or through mobile applications or the Sandy Hook Promise website.
Multidisciplinary educators and administrator teams are to respond and manage tips,
Beyond these two days of training, the curriculum and program awareness will continue through student clubs, in-school activities and special weeks that emphasize calls to action, Cammack wrote. Training also will continue each new school year for incoming sixth graders, he said.
“Our students often are aware of the problems their peers are facing, so we must empower them to know the danger signs and give them the tools to help each other with the assistance of trained and caring adults,” Cammack told parents.
“As you know, most conversations are taking place on social media, therefore it is critical that we teach our students to be looking out for one another as these digital conversations are taking place,” he wrote. “SS-ARS teaches them what to look for in text, videos, and photos while empowering them to act quickly to help a fellow student.”
Information is available on the District’s website, httpwww.martinezusd.net.
The District already has incorporated other elements of Sandy Hook Promise, beginning with its “Start With Hello,” designed to reduce social isolation and loneliness.
That program is for those in second to 12th grades, and addresses those who feel isolated or invisible often become victims of bullying, depression or violence, which can lead those children to struggle with learning or choosing to hurt themselves or others. Students are taught to be ambassadors to foster a culture of inclusion.
Another program underway in the District is Threat Assessment and Intervention, which focuses on at-risk behaviors and how to act when someone sees the signals that there is an imminent or longer-term threat.
“To date, SS-ARS and other SHP prevention programs have helped stop multiple school shootings, suicides, and gun threats; reduced bullying and cyberbullying; intervened upon cutting, drug use, racial conflicts, and other violent and victimization acts,” Cammack wrote. “We know this program will do the same for our district.”