end gun violence

Sandy Hook Parents Speak Out Emotionally On The Tenth Anniversary Of The School Shooting

The two parents who founded Sandy Hook Promise are asking others to “pinky promise” that they will keep kids safe.

Ten years ago today — December 14th, 2012 — families with kids attending Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, went to school like it was just another typical morning. However, their lives would be forever changed.

A 20-year-old with access to firearms first killed his mother and then shot his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School. In just ten minutes, he shot and killed 20 first-graders and six adults before ending his own life.

A decade after this devastating shooting, parents of those children who lost their lives that day are reflecting on that fateful morning and asking parents to do all they can to keep their kids safe.

Nicole Hockley and Mark Barden are just two of the parents who lost their children that day. They founded Sandy Hook Promise, an organization to educate and empower youth and adults to prevent violence in schools, homes, and communities.

The founders spoke to ABC News about Sandy Hook Promise, the tenth anniversary of the shooting, and how surreal the entire experience still feels to them. “Honestly, I find it hard to wrap my head around the fact that it’s been ten years since I last held Dylan,” Hockley said.

“Time has become very surreal in the last decade because, for me, he is still my six-year-old boy, and I think about him everyday.”

She went on to explain that her other son has gotten older, now 18, but in her mind, Dylan is still that little first grader. “So much has happened, but I still can’t wrap my head around it,” she revealed.

Barden echoed Hockley’s sentiments. “Time has warped,” he explained. “It feels like maybe Daniel is just in the other room, and my family and I are continually having to wrap our head around the fact that this happened and that Daniel is gone forever.”

In 2020, guns were the number one cause of death for kids and teens, according to the CDC. This is a statistic that disgusts both Barden and Hockley who founded Sandy Hook Promise to try and stop gun violence in schools, home, and overall communities.

“I think it’s horrific,” Hockley said referring to the stat. “I think that if that doesn’t send a message to people that we’re not doing enough to keep kids safe, then I don’t know what will ... Our children deserve so much better.”

Sandy Hook Promise has stopped at least 11 school shootings from being carried out. This is due to their initiative to educate students, parents, and educators on the warnings signs that someone may be looking to carry out an act of violence.

Research has proven that Sandy Hook Promise’s Know the Signs programs effectively teach youth and adults how to prevent school violence, shootings, and other harmful acts. Students and educators learn how to identify at-risk behaviors and intervene to get help. These early-prevention measures empower everyone to help keep schools and communities safe,” the official Sandy Hook Promise website explains.

To mark the tenth anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting, Sandy Hook Promise, which has 8.5 million supporters, is asking parents to take a photo of themselves doing a “pinky promise” as a way to show that they are promising to do all they can to keep kids safe from gun violence.

“It’s a symbolic gesture,” Barden explained as he leaned in for a pinky promise with Hockley. “I’m making my promise to do everything I can to protect children from gun violence.”

“We’re asking everybody to join us in that mission.”