Columbine: 10 years later

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Update: A comment by a reader of the daily blah blah and a post by security expert Bruce Schneier that anyone should read. I believe that they present the same point: no matter what security measures schools take, in the end it is the school community that will solve the problem of violence./Update

Today (April 20th) marks the 10th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre. Twelve innocent students, one teacher were killed, more than 20 were injured by two heavily armed Columbine students (before the pair shot themselves) in what became the worst school-based crime in the United States. Since then, more school-based mass killings have occured, and the BBC has an interesting (though outdated) chronology of events.

Most news outlets have carried reports and memorials for the tragic events. A partial (and incomplete) list follows:

Ten years later, the question remains unanswered: “How do you prevent such an event from happening?” In an earlier posting, I had suggested that the answer may lie in both the home and the school, both functioning/working together, side by side for the benefit and welfare of the children and the greater school community, but even this bonding may not be enough in socially turbulent times.

What do you think? Please leave a comment.


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4 thoughts on “Columbine: 10 years later

  1. You prevent it by allowing students to live and grow in a system that isn’t driven by politics.

    Here are the 5 main reasons why Columbine happened. I went to Pomona high school, a school in Colorado much like Columbine which was supposedly noted to be one of the next on their infamous ‘hit list.’ I was also outside the main jock clique and spent enough time seeing the ‘other side’ of things to gain a real understanding of what drives the anger behind such an event.

    5. Parental Politics:
    High School drama between classes, cliques, and social groups are bad enough without parents and teachers adding to the problems. I know a girl (that I used to go to HS with) who was just recently fired as a volleyball coach at her school because she benched a girl who had been refusing to join the rest of the team in practice exercises. Why, the girl’s mom flamed the school board so much they just assumed the coach was mis-treating the whole team. It’s disturbing to me to acknowledge that there are parents out there who have nothing better to do than to peddle in the affairs of their child’s school life. Not to mention that that little girl just learned that she can get whatever she wants through politicking.

    4. High School exists to support teachers and staff, not students:
    I clearly remember back when I was in High School that the teachers would gear the curriculum to the SAT tests. From day 1 of freshmen year all they ever talk about is getting into college and scoring high on the SAT. Now, HS doesn’t teach skills, trades, or inspire interest into discovering professional fields of study. It teaches, if you can study what’s on the test, you’ll get into college. Is it any wonder why many students getting into college now are completely unprepared.

    All the schools care about is, looking good on the test scores to get more funding, trying to get paid more while doing less work. I know that most teachers b**** about the low pay grade they receive, but most other people can’t afford to take three months off a year. I almost think it would be more beneficial to switch to block scheduling classes for 3-4 days a week and have schools go year round.

    The game of pitting all schools against one another for their funding was idiotic. Thanks to “No Child Left Behind,” all the schools care about anymore is juking the stats to come out on top.

    3. Teachers don’t teach anymore:
    Although, I can remember a few really good teachers I had in public HS, most of them were useless. All of the class curriculum is based on books, and all the materials are designed to be easy to grade not easy to learn. Most of the work given to kids these days consists of filling in spaces or multiple choice. The few really good classes I remember were lead by teachers who enjoyed teaching and extended their passion to finding creative ways to make the theories being taught seem like more than definitions on paper.

    The other major downside to this is, if the work is easier to grade, it’s easier to copy. Study hour for a lot of people consists of sitting around a lunch table passing assignments around. You’d be surprised to find that most of the kids (besides the ones who obsess over studying and good grades) who stand out at the top of their class do so by copying work.

    2. Sports keep kids off drugs:
    If I could only kick the crap out of the person who coined this marketing phrase… This is a direct example of where politics went a long way to ruin kids lives. I know that it all looks good on tv but what most people don’t realize is, with sports becoming the main activity in public schools, all the other programs are being systematically cut. I am a person who likes to make things, a tradesman if you will. My electives in school consisted mostly of wood shop, metal shop, and graphic arts. While I was attending public high school (10 years ago) there were talks about cutting all the shops, architecture, etc… The only programs that seemed to be growing were sports, and… sports.

    While it’s a seductive response for parents to dream how their little one will be the star player on the team or the head cheerleader, there are a LOT of kids out there who care less about those activities. Forcing everybody into physical education while de-emphasizing other trade skills is detrimental to our society in ways that probably won’t be realized for another 5-10 years. Which leads to my last point.

    5. Jocks and Cheerleaders don’t build skyscrapers:
    Who do you think goes on to build great bridges/structures, or event the new technology that saves the next generation of mankind from the growing lack of natural resources worldwide. Jocks and cheerleaders? No, it’s usually the extremely talented and intelligent quiet kid who tasted a little inspiration in his/her earlier years. Now all those kids flock to the internet to seek out social groups where they can be themselves and escape the ridicule. Society doesn’t seem to understand the level of talent and skill that exists within the sub-cultures of the internet and beyond the public’s periphery.

    I think that, without the internet and other escapes from the BS opportunities that are left to kids these days, Columbine would have continued to happen many times over. It’s tough enough for kids to go through life trying to discover who they are and what they value. If one doesn’t have an interest (or the ability) to be a superstar cheerleader or sports player, they’re cast off and ignored. If they don’t find a safe avenue of escape, many times they sink into drugs to forget. I’ve known plenty of people who have or still do drugs. It’s not hard to discern which ones who tried it a few times or did it for fun from those who became hopeless addicts. Usually the addicts are hiding from some real issue in their life that’s too painful to face.

    Kids are smart. Much smarter than adults give them credit for. They know when people don’t care about them. They know when they’re being cast off. If the parent’s don’t do it themselves, the schools will do it for them.

    I was fortunate enough to leave my Junior year and move on to a much much much better private school. But, on occasion I run into one of those people I used to know from back then and it’s kinda sad to see. They’re still fumbling through life not sure of themselves. Many times still carrying the anger about how they were never given the chance to do something great.

    After I graduated from private school I went back to my old HS to talk to my old counselor (he was a really good guy). I brought up some of these points (as well as I could articulate at the time) and he seemed frustrated that I didn’t understand his position. He replied by saying that although the system is flawed, and it didn’t necessarily work for me, it does work for many others.

    I can’t argue with that logic, but I can’t also forget all the people I used to know who look back at High School as a useless waste of life, and something they had to get through before they could move on to live their life.

    The only sign that gives me pause nowadays is, there are more private schools and academies that are popping up all over as an alternative. Hopefully, they can escape the politics and go to a school that can shelter them from all the nonsense until they’re grown enough to handle it.

  2. @Evan,

    Thanks for the comment. You raise several important points which should be taken into consideration by the powers that be. I am particularly frustrated by the lack of family-school cooperation (you mentioned the mother of the girl causing directly or indirectly the firing of the coach and that is an example of non-cooperation). I am also intrigued by the comments about teacher quality and passion. When I was in teacher’s college, one of my teachers said in class that teaching was three things: art, technique, and science. I miss the art part a lot, the art of inspiring children give their best.


  3. interesting perspective on the prevention of school violence. However, inappropriate and often violent behavior will occur despite the school efforts.


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