while many others are celebrating the drug related “4/20” i choose to use this day to remember something that changed a lot of people’s lives for the worse.
today is the anniversary of columbine. and while it hits the people involved more closely to home, it affected plenty of people in other places as well. when i remember what happened today, i not only mourn the lives of those who were murdered by these boys, but the boys themselves, who were bullied until the reached their breaking point. i know, its a controversial thing to say, that i feel bad for these boys, because they did kill people. but as someone who has been bullied i can see why they did what they did.
the aftermath of columbine hit home on many levels. my friends and i were already bullied for being “weird”. we dressed the way the goth kids at the time dressed, we listened to marilyn manson, we didn’t play sports, we weren’t in clubs. after columbine everything was worse. there was a paper that went around, stating “warning signs” for kids in school that might be potential ticking time bombs. the papers did not mention anything about how faculty could stop bullying between students, or promote any kind of tolerance. instead the paper had a list of key points that made the faculty worry about certain students, and treat them differently. this is what happened to me and my group of friends.
the day after columbine happened, i did my best to stay out of the way, i didn’t want to draw attention and i didn’t want to really deal with what had happened. unfortunately it rained that day, and my only coat was, of course, a trench coat. it was green and i had no intention of wearing it past the front door, but the harassment began on the bus, not just the normal “hey devil girl” remarks but more cruel insistent remarks that i had guns on me, bombs in my book bag, people saying they were afraid of me because i might kill them. note that i had at this time never displayed any amount of violence in school at all. i turned up the volume on my cd player and ignored them until we got to school.
at school i removed my coat, fell in line with my group of friends, and walked to my locker. as per normal ben escorted me to class but there were a few classes where we did not go the same direction, so i had to face the hallways alone. there were more comments, about how i was going to blow up the school, someone asked me if my shot gun was in my locker. i had a melt down in the hall way between 3rd and 4th period, and ended up in the office. the faculty blamed me, because i wore a coat that was long. it was raining, and i was not going to go to school without a coat on! several parents had apparently called in that day asking for the removal of me, ben, and some of our friends. they threatened to remove their child from the school system if their demands were not met. thankfully the school could not expel us without reason, and the principal was able to diffuse that situation, but it was insulting, and humiliating, to be treated that way. these people had never met me, they knew nothing about me, all they knew is what their kids told them. this incident went on to be published in the local paper for some ridiculous reason. our names were not given but we were described and you could tell who the article was written about.
school was never the same for me after 4/20. i was abused more by my classmates, and a lot of faculty treated me like a walking bomb. our prom that year was very soon after columbine and someone had actually called in during the day to tell the principal that we were hiding guns in the trunk of ben’s car and we planned to shoot students from a hill as they left for prom early dismissal. as we were leaving that day (those with prom tickets got to leave early) we had our bags and vehicle searched by the principal and resource officer. ben was also searched again when we arrived at prom that evening. his dad threatened to sue them if they tried that ever again, and we never had to go though it again, but once more, humiliated, when we had done absolutely nothing wrong.
my senior year i wrote a paper on why columbine happened. we were supposed to pick a controversial subject, and so i chose what i knew. i explained what caused the attack, how people could really prevent another one, and i also shared some of my experiences with both bullying, and the treatment that came after columbine. my english teacher loved the paper so much she was speechless, and wanted to keep a copy. i hope that it opened the eyes of some of the faculty members there, but i will honestly never know.
these days kids seem to be more intent on killing themselves than killing their classmates, but the cause remains the same. what needs to be done, to save these kids, is to stop bullying. teachers, and other faculty members, need to stop letting this stuff take place. they need to punish the kids who are harassing others. parents need to pay attention to their kids, not just the ones being bullied, but the ones doing the bullying. its not just a thing kids do. its abuse, and it hurts. it leaves an indelible mark on you that you remember forever. now that i’m going to be a parent myself, and put my kid though 12 (or more) years of social interaction, i worry, but i also hope that things will change. and i will be there to change them. i will support my son as he goes though school, and i hope that he will not have to worry too much about bullying from his peers OR the faculty members. i will fight for him if i have to. i am not afraid to stand up to anyone.
i think this video sums up everything: