Mark Barden is being honored as a Gun Violence Prevention Champion of Change.
December 14, 2013 marked one year since I lost my son, Daniel Barden, age 7, in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. Since its inception, our organization, Sandy Hook Promise (SHP), has had conversations with hundreds of parents across the country—parents who are gun owners and non-gun owners, Democrats, Republicans and Independents, people of many faiths, and across the economic spectrum in an effort to learn how we might prevent this type of tragedy from happening again.
What we found was that a parent’s love and concern for their children comes before everything, including their politics. That parents—both gun owners and non-gun owners—want to act now, in their communities, to help prevent gun violence.
In that powerful spirit, we launched Parent Together—a nationwide program that educates and empowers parents, who place their children’s safety and wellbeing above all else, to make changes in their community to help prevent not just the next Sandy Hook but also the hundreds of thousands of other acts of gun violence every year, in every state.
What does this mean? SHP is looking at programs that teach and incentivize children to reach out to their peers who are isolated and help them make connections in their school and community in order to prevent isolation. We are also reviewing programs that train parents, teachers, and pediatricians and other medical professionals to help these at-risk children as early as possible. Finally, it means identifying programs that provide ways to speak up and reduce the fears and stigma for teens to notify adults when they hear about possible violence.
We do realize that in order to make change, we have to start with the basics. What do we agree on? That we all love our children. What can we find common ground over? Protecting those children. Parents united by love can do anything, and if you join us, together we can prove that. Please go to the website—sandyhookpromise.org—and Make the Promise to Parent Together to prevent gun violence.
Mark Barden is the Director of Advocacy, leading policy and outreach efforts for Sandy Hook Promise. He serves as a spokesperson for the organization since the tragic loss of his son Daniel, a first-grader at Sandy Hook Elementary School.