Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Columbine Revisited

There were quite a few responses to the post “Bullies for Columbine” this past April. When I have to count them on both hands, it's remarkable. (When I have to use my fingers AND toes... well, it's been a while.) One comment came in today from an anonymous author, which is worthy of notice.

Currently I am working on my thesis and the topic is specific type of bullying in US schools. I've probably read every book/article (including Cullen's which people are quoting here), written about Columbine in the past 10 years; plus the Columbine Review Commission, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Dept's Final Report on Columbine, Eric Harris' web pages, Dylan Klebold's journal and a vast amount of scholarly articles on the topic.

My conclusions? Dave Cullen's hypothesis is partly correct (Harris was a sociopath who was filled with rage) as is Brooks Brown's theory (Harris & Klebold were bullied at Columbine and a "toxic" environment ran through the school).

It is a fact that Columbine had bullies, people testified to that fact at the CO's Govenor's Review Commission. Yes, bullying occurred at Columbine!

To all the doubters, if you read the TIME article, 12/20/99, you will see quotes from Columbine students talking about homophobic epithets that were used in reference to Harris & Klebold and their friends. That is a prime example of bullying, as defined by any school district.

On the other hand, per Harris and Klebold's writings, they also were bullies themselves and they posted racial, homophobic and religious hate on their web pages and in their journals. So the Columbine killers are not free from blame at all.

As a former high school teacher, I can tell you that bullying has happened at every high school I have ever worked at. Each administration had a different response to it. Some were very bad (school in a rural town in FL who babied the jocks and bullying was brushed aside) and others that had the correct response: zero tolerance (suburban school outside a big city).

But the one good thing that I have found that did come out of Columbine and some of the other school shootings is a renewed effort by school officials to make sure bullying doesn't happen in "their" school. Yes, sometimes a particular school isn't on that game plan and that is when parents must speak up - and LOUDLY!

So glad your son is doing well now. As a former teacher it breaks my heart to hear stories of children who have attempted suicide because of bullying.

Hopefully, our correspondent could turn their opus into a book, in which case we might just promote it here.

The lesson for parents remains: Get a clue, get involved, talk to your kids.

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