Designed to be a call-to-action in the wake of recent threats of gun violence against San Diego schools — including one on their own campus just three days earlier — students of Point Loma High School and San Diego High School created and launched a Public Service Announcement (PSA) video campaign based on the adage: "If You See Something, Say Something."
The launch took place at Point Loma High School on June 4.
The campaign will reach all of San Diego County through two, 30-second PSAs (one by students from Point Loma and the other by students from San Diego High) created in English and Spanish. They will be broadcast on television and online, airing on Cox Communications, beginning this month.
The students worked on the PSA in partnership with San Diego Unified School Police and Crime Stoppers San Diego.
San Diego High's message features a hypothetical scenario in which a student sees another student carrying a long, black bag, but says nothing. The video then rewinds to repeat the encounter, but this time, the student tells a school police officer.
The version from Point Loma students features San Diego School Police Chief Mike Marquez asking students to raise their right hand and repeat the oath: "If I see something, I will say something." The video continues with several students, one by one, repeating "If I see something, I will say something."
Marquez said at the launch: "Providing support to our school communities and creating safer learning environments for our students and faculty is our top priority at San Diego Unified School Police. We are proud to have partnered with our students and … I'm calling on the greater San Diego community to join us in this campaign: If you see something, we want you to say something. Let someone know — whether that be a teacher, a custodian, staff member or member of the community — we want you to report suspicious activity and criminal activity to law enforcement."
Point Loma High seniors Anthony Torres and Jakob Tiger produced the PSA, and spoke with Point Loma-OB Magazine following the launch.
As to why they chose the message, Torres said: "High school students might worry that (saying something) could affect their social status or put a target on their back. There is a lot of selfishness rather than selflessness ... but we all need to look out for each other. If you see something wrong, not only could you be affected by it, but those around you and their families could be, too. There is a broader sense to it."
Tiger said the goal of the PSA is to "influence students to, if they see suspicious activity, report it, so it does not go unheard. Such action could stop future (violent) events. We want kids to know this is not a joke."
Torres added: "It's a little sad that something like this is even necessary. My dad used to tell me every day before I went to school that I was going there to learn. I don't want to go there and dodge bullets. It's something we have to worry about. It's a big issue. The fact that it is still happening in San Diego is sad, but this PSA is a step in the right direction."
Such worries are a reality the students at Point Loma High School know too well. Three days before the PSA launched on June 1, graffiti was discovered in a school bathroom indicating there would be a shooting on campus. Tiger explained someone had written the threat on a mirror and a student took a photo of it and shared it on social media.
"I woke up to my friends texting me and letting me know, and it spread to the principal and police took it from there," he said, noting that several students stayed home from school that day.
"The fact that this happened right before the PSA launch brings the relevance of this whole thing into perspective. Such events are happening and it's a real problem that needs to get fixed. If you see something, you need to say something to keep people from getting hurt or killed. This action could save lives,"
Torres concluded: "I see the Point Loma threat as fate telling us we needed to do this. It should get a lot of people thinking that it doesn't just happen in Florida and Texas, but could happen here, too. It hits close to home. I have family at school, my sister, my cousin, and I have friends that are like family, and I don't want to constantly worry about their safety. I'm glad we are able to put this message out there."
Locally, threats of violence have taken place at Westview High School (Torrey Highlands) in February, La Jolla High School and Serra High School (Tierrasanta) in March, and Torrey Pines High School (Carmel Valley) in February and May.
In addition to working with the students on the creation of these videos, San Diego Crime Stoppers: 1) encourages the download and use of the app P3 Tips (aka P3 Campus), which is available through most app stores; and 2) reporting suspicious behavior through Crime Stoppers' Students Speaking Out page: studentsspeakingout.org
The Point Loma students' PSA can be found on youtube.com by searching "See Something, Say Something — PSA" (posted by San Diego Unified School District).
How to Play It Safe
• Download and use the app P3 Tips (aka P3 Campus)
• Report suspicious behavior at studentsspeakingout.org
• Watch the students' "See Something, Say Something - PSA" video on YouTube: youtube.com/watch?v=6qc0u-Jz0IU