Author, Teacher, Psychologist and Speaker

April 20, 1999. The Columbine Massacre.

Posted by on Apr 20, 2012 in Blog | 3 comments

Kids killing kids

Columbine High School

Columbine High School

Some people hate remembering terrible events. Anniversary dates should be for birthdays, weddings, happy times.

Is this atrocious act worth acknowledging? Remembering?  Reliving? More than half of all fatalities in schools are attributed to shooters. This was the worst single act of murder at a school in U.S. history.

Why would anyone want to recall this horror?

I think it might be worth appreciating some of lessons we have learned. First of all, we hopefully have learned not to jump to conclusions. In the early days after the massacre, rumors of retribution for bullying, gay and gothic affiliation, and hatred of all Christians, jocks, and African-Americans, flooded the newswires. However, lead investigator Kate Battan classified Harris and Klebold’s behavior as indiscriminate and random. “Sticking a gun underneath a table and firing — they didn’t even know who was under that table.” Investigators have concluded that this was an unmitigated and purely arbitrary act of hatred. Yet, no investigative reports address the real issue of “Why”. Random hatred comes from somewhere. Random murder has a reason. Some have justified this act by saying that Harris was homicidal and Klebold was suicidal – they wanted to “terrorize the entire nation” and be remembered for the “greatest mass murders in history.”

Secondly, this fortuitous act of violence has given us a heightened awareness of these types of attacks.  Oregon, Red Lake, Minnesota, Northern Illinois, Virginia Tech, Oikos University, and Chardon to name a few. We have examined and investigated and implemented policies for safer school environments. We have placed law enforcement inside schools, put bars on doors, and implemented lock down procedures.  We have put into action systems of crisis management.

And yet, some things have not changed. Bullying, hazing, and hatred are just as prevalent, if not more so. We cannot change and/or legislate the way people feel, or control the things that they say and do – the Facebook threats, the cruel bathroom horseplay, the hateful texting messages.

When does this

Harris and Klebold

Become this?

And for others, the lessons learned were those of violence. Almost every time since that carnage that there has been an incidence of school shooting, there is a reference to Columbine.  Earlier this year, a 16-year-old Utah boy showed up at Columbine High School and told the principal that he was doing a story for his school newspaper about Harris and Klebold. A month later, he was arrested on suspicion of planning to blow up their suburban Salt Lake City high school, steal a small plane and fly to safety.

One of the most recent, T.J. Lane, Chardon High School Shooting Suspect, allegedly shot randomly into a group of students, killing 3 students and injuring 3 others. Almost all early reports mentioned the similarities between Chardon and Columbine – demographics, student population.

And then there are those who “celebrate” the anniversary in other ways. At around 12:30 p.m Monday, April 16, 2012, Columbine High School was on a lockout – students were not allowed to leave the school and parents could not pick up their children for 3 hours.  Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputies were sent to “sweep” the school grounds in response to a bomb threat. According to Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Jacki Kelley, they get bomb threats and death threats ever year during the Columbine anniversary week.

Why do we recall these days of unprecedented, unexplained, and horrible violence against the youngest of innocents – our children?

The 13 who were killed 13 years ago

For me, I remember, lest I forget.

Columbine

The Colorado State Flower

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3 Comments

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  1. Susan

    Great article, Ann. I, for one, needed the reminder and appreciate your thoughts. I will remember, lest I forget!

    • Ann Eisenstein

      Thanks, Susan! It’s always hard to remember times like these…but I believe that they should never be forotten!

  2. Margaret

    Tragic memory but important reminder that more needs to be done to protect our children from bullets to bullies.

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