On April 20, 1999 tragedy struck our country in such a way that no one saw it coming and life since has not been the same. The murderous rampage held by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold at Columbine High School struck fear in the heart of every parent. Never did we dream that something like this could happen. It was assumed that our children were safe at school, that bullying was just part of being a kid and you repeated phrase “Sticks and Stones” to your child and sent them to school with a kiss. It was unimaginable that students could feel like such outsiders that they took it upon themselves to kill their classmates, teachers and then themselves.
Columbine was a sleepy town near Denver, Colorado before that day thirteen years ago. However by day’s end Harris and Klebold had completed a 23 minute shooting spree leaving 12 students and 1 teacher dead, another 21 wounded and had both committed suicide. Columbine High School’s Class of 1999 will tragically be remembered as the fourth-deadliest school shooting in our country. The shooting brought about feelings of fear, depression and left many questions unanswered in the realm of school place violence. The shooting also resulted in an increased emphasis on school security, and a moral panic aimed at goth culture with students dressing primarily black clothing and wearing trench coats, social outcasts and bullying, the gun culture, the use by teenagers of anti-depressants in addition to violent films, music and video games.
There have been 108 incidents of planned and/or carried out school violence incidents since the deadly moments at Columbine. With school violence and bullying on the rise many organizations have started Anti-Bullying and Anti School Violence (www.nationalsave.org/) campaigns. Students and teachers are being asked to continue being vigilant in watching others and taking threats seriously.
Orange County is not immune to school violence, while there have not been any violent deaths on any of the 560 campus’ for more than a decade violence is reported. During the 2010-11 school year there were 1,056 violence or drug related expulsions which breaks down to 1 for every 473 students. In comparison to statewide numbers of 17,422 violence or drug related expulsions, which breaks down to 1 for every 350 students. Sadly, Columbine High School was not the first school to experience violence and will not be the last. It will be an ongoing mission to keep our schools and students safe each day.