Why did I jump at the chance to review this ad? Because like everybody else I’m appalled at the frequency of school shootings in the US.
Predictably, just a few weeks later, there have been two more shooting incidents at US schools.
Recently, Riley Howell, a 21-year old student, died a hero in a North Carolina school, tackling an active shooter, and was buried with military honours. And just a week ago, a teenage student, Kendrick Castillo, has also been killed whilst tackling an active shooter – and eight people were wounded – in another school shooting in Colorado.
Schools in America have been no stranger to violence.
Despite being a place of learning, lone or paired shooters have turned many US learning institutions into deadly crime scenes.
In the UK, we had the appalling tragedy of Dunblane, so cannot be complacent, however, from the Columbine High School shooting, to Virginia Tech, and the UCC shooting in Oregon, school safety has become a serious concern among Americans. Pervasive gun violence has affected elementary schools, high schools, universities and vocational schools. When looking at the statistics, harrowing accounts of school violence emerge.
School shootings have become surprisingly common, and are not even ‘breaking news’ any more, unless the death toll is significant.
The Big Idea
The ad ‘Generation Lockdown’ by McCann New York created for anti-gun violence movement March For Our Lives, shows a group of people at an all-staff event being given safety training.
Surprisingly, when the training expert arrives it turns out she is a little girl, Kayleigh.
Very matter of fact, she leads a well-rehearsed, comprehensive demo about what to do when an active shooter is nearby. It includes tips such as not making any sound, by playing a game on who can stay quiet the longest.
It shows how to hide successfully under a desk or by standing on a loo seat. There is a demonstration of how to tell where the shooter is from the type and frequency of the ‘bangs’, interspersed with stills of real distressed kids and grieving relatives.
The delivery by the little girl is worldly wise, emotionless, experienced – she sings a ‘lockdown song’, which helps schoolkids to remember what to do when their school is in a lockdown situation.
This is the bit that hurts the most.
What have we become, as a society?
What does it say about us, that our kids are made to feel this is the norm?
What They Did
The message of the ad is that a child’s most important lesson should not be how to survive.
Especially not in a school, which after a parent’s arms should rank as the most secure place for a child to thrive in.
The aim of the ad is to promote gun control, but a more emotive message comes across loud and clear: a school should be a safe place of learning, not a place where children lose their innocence and learn everything there is to know about the evil monsters lurking down the corridor, out to get them.
It would seem a fitting tribute to dedicate this review to the latest US school shootings victims, Riley and Kendrick, who should not have had to die as heroes on an ordinary school day whilst trying to disarm a gunman, when gun laws could have served that purpose.