HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A variation on the adage "If You See Something, Say Something," first introduced in a jittery New York City after 9/11, is being adopted by schools at a time of heightened vigilance for the next classroom shooter.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Thursday was to visit a school in Danbury to mark this as "Say Something Week," endorsing a program that Sandy Hook Promise, a violence prevention group in Newtown, is making available to schools around the United States.
Warning signs of violence are often communicated in advance but not all young people know what to do with the information, said Mark Barden, the group's managing director.
"Young people are the eyes and ears of their schools and community. We can teach them how to properly identify and report threats, keeping themselves, their friends and their family safe. They have the power to save lives," said Barden, whose son Daniel was among 20 first-grade children killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in December 2012.
The original "If You See Something, Say Something" campaign was launched by New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The slogan has since been licensed to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as part of its efforts to raise public awareness of indicators of terrorism.
The widely used phrase applies well to the school setting, researchers and advocates say.
Dewey Cornell, a University of Virginia education professor who developed threat assessment guidelines for the state, said school shootings generally are preceded by threats or alarming statements that are discounted or overlooked. There is no way to predict who will carry out violence, he said, but getting help to distraught individuals goes a long way toward prevention.
In the wake of the latest shootings, including the Oct. 1 attack at Oregon's Umpqua Community College in which a gunman killed eight students and a teacher, several police departments and school districts around the country have used variations on the "say something" adage. Las week, it was a theme of a video recorded by police in Hamilton, Ohio, for screening inside the school system.
The grassroots Sandy Hook Promise group says hundreds of schools and youth organizations around the U.S. are participating in Say Something Week. It has made available training materials and a planning guide to teach students in grades 6-12 to recognize warning signs, especially in social media, from people who may want to hurt themselves or others and then to contact a trusted adult for help.