Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Learning lessons from past tragedies

The Columbine High School massacre took place April 20, 1999. Students Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris killed 12 of their peers and one teacher, along with injuring 23 others before taking their own lives.

That day changed the lives of many people. Klebold’s mother Susan was one of them.

Wondering what it feels like to be the mother of Klebold probably isn’t the first thought people have when looking back on the events of that day. After any sort of incident such as this, the family of the perpetrator usually becomes a topic of concern for the public.

After reading a letter written by Susan Klebold about her experience, my opinion on that way of thinking might have changed.

It’s not right to point fingers and say “how did you not see this coming?” At the end of the day, she is a mother who loved her son. Imagine the pain she must have felt knowing the child she brought into this world caused so much harm to so many people.

In “I Will Never Know Why,” Klebold’s letter published in an issue of O: The Oprah Magazine, she explains what she experienced April 20, 1999 and the months that followed in such a detailed way, it felt as if you were watching the event’s through her eyes.

In a comment on the top of the letter Oprah said, “Even now, many questions about Columbine remain. But what Susan writes here adds a chilling new perspective. This is her story. — Oprah”
I couldn’t agree more.

It’s very easy for people to blame the parents of criminals because they are the ones they’re supposed to learn their values from. Imagine being in Klebold’s shoes and realizing the pain you’re feeling is being felt by so many other people because of your son’s actions. If I were Klebold, April 20, 1999 would have been a day that made my absolute worst nightmares seem bland.

“I was widely viewed as a perpetrator or at least an accomplice since I was the person who had raised a ‘monster,’” Klebold wrote in the letter.

I have to agree with Klebold when she said she saw herself as a victim, but there were and are still people who have dehumanized her in a sense. Her feelings don’t seem to matter to some people.

“In one newspaper survey, 83 percent of respondents said that the parents’ failure to teach Dylan and Eric proper values played a major part in the Columbine killings,” Klebold wrote.

One of the most horrific things about what happened at Columbine is that it was just the beginning of a terrifying trend for the United States. From Virginia Tech in 2007 to Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, school shootings have become shockingly regular. There have been 170 gun violence related issues on or very close to schools or college campuses since 2013.

What message does that send?

To me that says, “Hello! Wake up America, we have a serious problem.”

My mother is a special education teacher, and I love that about her. What I don’t love however, is the fear that one day my mother could be teaching a lesson or doing crafts and someone could take my best friend away from me for some unknown reason.

Life is fragile and there are a million things out there that can kill you in a second, but school should never be a place where I would have to worry about that.

Email Madison Winters at madison.winters@cardinalpointsonline.com

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