This story was originally published on Dec. 2. To mark the fourth anniversary of the Sandy Hook school shooting, it is being republished.
As part of a larger educational campaign, Sandy Hook Promise — a national nonprofit dedicated to protecting children from gun violence — has issued a list of six potential warning signs for potential school shooters.
The list was released on Dec. 2 along with a new public service announcement emphasizing that gun violence can be decreased by being vigilant about these warning signs.
Sandy Hook Promise was created by several family members who lost children during the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.
1. School shooters typically exhibit a strong fascination or obsession with firearms.2. School shooters often overreact or act out aggressively for seemingly minor reasons.
3. Perpetrators of self-harm or violence towards others may be victims of prolonged bullying and may also have real of perceived feelings of being picked on or persecuted by others.
4. These students also usually study firearm techniques and training, and are equally fascinated by mass shootings.
5. School shooters almost always have unsupervised, illegal or easy access to firearms, and often brag about such access.
6. One should also look for gestures of violence and low commitment or aspirations towards school, or a sudden change in academic performance.
‘Gun Violence is Preventable’
According to co-founder Nicole Hockley, who lost her son Dylan to the 2012 massacre, Sandy Hook Promise trains teachers and students to “recognize the signs of chronic social isolation or marginalization or rejection and how to practice inclusivity, which is step one onto a different pathway or not going down one towards self-harm.”
Hockley tells PEOPLE it has become her mission in life to educate Americans so they “know that gun violence is preventable and that if you’re frustrated by the lack of progress on this from a legislative perspective, just don’t give up, because there are things you can do today that can protect your own children and your own community if you promise to learn how.
“In my experience, people, because this has been such a fight between two sides, people are looking for a middle ground that they haven’t been able to find it,” Hockley adds. “Our approach is very non-confrontational: How can you argue with a program that helps save lives?
“This is a very easy way but very effective and impactful way to make a real difference in life. And it doesn’t mean we’re giving up on policy at all. Policy will follow once more people are already informed on how to get involved on this issue. Like social change has proved that time and time again that’s how things get done.”
Hockley urges parents to discuss the six warnings signs identified by Sandy Hook Promise with their children, and wants moms and dads to encourage their kids to come forward if they feel danger could be imminent.
“You can learn, you can talk to your kid, bring it to your school,” Hockley says. “They’ll look for all the signs on how to recognize and how to identify them and what action to take. That’s something that can be done right now today.”