In Memory of Columbine High

Today is April 20th, 2006 .  Seven years ago this nation was rocked by the tragedy of Columbine High School.  I was a high school sophomore in Smalltown, Missouri and the waves of fear and sadness stretched out from Littleton , Colorado , and forever changed my way of looking at things.  Columbine could have happened to me.  It could have been my school in Smalltown, Missouri that was under attack, I could have been a victim, you could have been a victim. 

A couple years ago in my English course we were required to watch Bowling for Columbine that film was an interesting depiction of what our country is turning into.  The sad reality is that Columbine wasn’t the first and it wasn’t last of these school attacks.  We as Americans are so consumed by our own lives – our own problems that we don’t see when others are spiraling out of control around us. 

There was a report on Dateline a few years ago about Columbine.  There was so much evidence that Dylan and Eric were out of control.  Eric had threatened the lives of his neighbors.  They had made videos about attacking so called jocks.  One of them wrote a paper for a class assignment describing how he would kill is fellow classmates.  His teacher said that he was a good storyteller. 

Why were these things ignored?  How could the parents not see that they needed help?  How did that teacher not see that paper as a sign of something deeper going on – something more than just telling a story.  It is sad…it’s all very sad…

Now I watch the news and see that there were five teens arrested in Kansas, because they were planning a Columbine -like shooting at their high school.  This plot was stopped, because authorities had been notified about a posting on the kids MySpace pages. 

This is what kills me.  I’m not sure where I stand on MySpace/Xanga/Friendster/LiveJournal/Facebook/etc…  I understand that children and teens feel they need a place to vent, and that is fine, most of the time. 

BUT… When you are plotting to kill your classmates, or harm your self by cutting or whatever – I think that is when it no longer becomes about your right to privacy, and I don’t see how anyone can say differently after a story like the one in Kansas. 

Kansas.  I mean – that is pushing it really close to home for me.  I don’t understand what can make a child/teen hate that much.  How do you get that sad?  That angry?  That hurt?  That lonely?  Confused?  How do you get that far gone without someone noticing?  It is children and teens like those that absolutely break my heart. 

I know that for every child that is happy and successful in life/school/love/whatever – there are that many more that aren’t.  I want them all to have a chance at being happy – to have a chance at life.  Everyone deserves a chance.  It just seems that fourteen is too young to have to worry about birth control and STDs and drugs and alcohol.  Fourteen is too young to have to worry about going to school and not coming home, because of someone else’s bad decisions. 

I’m twenty-three and I’ve been really thinking a lot lately about those in the generation after me.  What are we leaving this next generation?  We’ve taken away so much of their innocence and hope.  They know about sex by age eleven – if not sooner.  They learn about drugs and alcohol then too.  We’ve even taken away the idea of the school as a safe place.  Now when your mother and father say goodbye to you in the morning – you are all  unsure if you will see each other again.  I used to feel safe at school – until that April 20th morning anyways. 

It is just not right.  We need to leave more for these kids than fear and this too much-too soon lifestyle that they all seem to be living.  This is not the kind of world I want my nieces, nephews, and little cousins to grow up in.  This is not the kind of world I want to raise kids in.  I’m scared for these kids.  They deserve more, and we need to help give it to them, because they are killing themselves without us. 


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