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Old 04-21-2004, 02:01 PM   #16
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School violence rises again
'Spike in deaths not even on the radar screen of the public'By Gwen Florio
Rocky Mountain News
Updated: 6:07 a.m. ET April 20, 2004April 20, 2004 - In Nebraska, a boy in a black overcoat is arrested in February after being found outside his high school with 20 homemade bombs, a rifle, small propane tanks and a note declaring his intentions to hurt everyone in the school except his closest friends.

In New Jersey, a recent high school graduate and two middle school students who dressed in trench coats and called themselves Warriors of Freedom were arrested after an attempted carjacking last summer. They had rifles, a shotgun, handguns, swords and more than 2,000 rounds of ammunition. Police said they planned to attack the school, then kill people around town.

And here in Colorado, three Fort Collins ninth-graders were accused in 2001 of planning a deadly attack on some of their fellow students. Police confiscated a semiautomatic pistol, a doubled-barreled shotgun, two rifles, a handgun, ammunition and a small propane tank from one boy's home. In his locker, they found drawings of students being killed.

In all three cases, police spoke of averting another Columbine.

The word Columbine has become a layered sort of shorthand, encompassing both action - the sort of horrific school shooting that occurred five years ago today - and intent, as in "never again."

In the five years since Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed a teacher and 12 of their classmates, schools and law enforcement agencies around the country have rushed to implement policies and procedures designed to work exactly as they did in Malcolm, Neb.; Oaklyn, N.J.; and Fort Collins.

But violence in schools has hardly gone away. Fatal shootings just tend to happen one victim at a time. Since Columbine, no more than two students have died in any single school shooting in the U.S.

Add up all of those isolated numbers, though, and this school year turns out to be the deadliest on record since Columbine, said Kenneth Trump, of National School Safety and Security Services.

That statistic has garnered little attention.

"The sad reality is that the spike in school deaths is not even on the radar screen of the general public, or even flying on the stealth radar of those who should be in the know," Trump said. "In the couple of years after Columbine, we took five steps forward in the field of school safety. It seems as though we're slipping, maybe 10 steps back."

According to federal statistics, 37 students were killed or committed suicide in school or at school-related events in 1999, when Columbine occurred. That number declined to less than half that every year since, until this year.

Trump's own numbers, the most recent available, show that school violence has claimed 43 lives so far this year.

Few school shootings have been widely publicized, though, since a student in Ehrfurt, Germany, fatally shot 14 teachers, two students and a police officer before killing himself in 2002. The last well-known school shooting in this country occurred in March 2001 in Santee, Calif., when a freshman killed two students and wounded 13 others.

The temptation is to say that Columbine spurred measurable, meaningful change in policies and that lives have been saved as a result, Trump said.

Larry Abrahamson, chief deputy district attorney who prosecuted the three Preston Junior High students in Fort Collins, subscribes to that point of view.

"When Columbine is in the back of your mind, you say, 'Whoa, this threat is a situation that could actually come about,' " Abrahamson said.

But many more lives have been lost, said Trump, who established his Cleveland-based consulting firm in 1989.

Trump blames school funding cuts, an emphasis on proficiency testing that distracts attention from safety programs, and a natural complacency that sets in as years pass without a shooting of the magnitude of Columbine.

There's another factor, he said.

"From April of 1999 until Sept. 10, 2001, everyone was on the school safety bandwagon," he said. "On Sept. 11, they fell off and disappeared."

Tom Mauser, whose 15-year-old son, Daniel, was killed at Columbine, also notes weariness on the topic.

"School-wise, there hasn't been a lot of progress," he said.

Mauser is the board president of Colorado Ceasefire, a group that supports gun-safety proposals. The group has had intermittent success.

He cites a powerful gun lobby and, like Trump, a certain distraction.

"I think Americans tend to worry about what's in front of them," Mauser said.

"Unfortunately, one downside - if you want to call it that - to Columbine is that people tend to compare everything to it," he said. "The good thing is that we haven't had any more Columbines. The bad thing is that we still lose an awful lot of young people every day to gunshots."

Remembering Columbine

What: A remembrance service, with presentations by the Columbine High School choir, families, survivors, alumni and others. A candlelight vigil will follow.

When: 6 p.m. today

Where: Clement Park Amphitheater
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Old 04-21-2004, 02:19 PM   #17
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Right but my point was this kid's mother saw signs and did nothing. The problems happen before the kids get to school, the problems do not lie 100% in the schools.
Agreed. Of course being bullied is horrible, but I can't honestly say that I wouldn't shy away from those guys (I wouldn't pick on them though). Who wants to be best friend with a racist anti-semite? I guess this gets into the whole nature-nuture debate, but I think those guys needed help way before they even set foot inside that high school for the first time. I think what happened is terrible and tragic and I would blame the parents before anyone or anything else. If my mom knew that I hung out with other neo-Nazis and did the kinds of things they did, there would be hell to pay and she'd straighten me out (or at least TRY).

Parents these days are too much in denial. It happens everywhere to everyone. I have a friend who was in the top of her class, good at sports, prom queen, etc, etc and she's been distustingly anorexic since she started high school. Last semester (in college now) she got kicked out of the dorms and sent home with the intension of seeking treatment. But she looks worse, if anything. I want to slap her mom in the face and say LOOK AT YOUR DAUGHTER. Sometimes parents letting kids figure things out for themselves borders on neglect and abuse.
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Old 04-21-2004, 02:26 PM   #18
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Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar


Right but my point was this kid's mother saw signs and did nothing. The problems happen before the kids get to school, the problems do not lie 100% in the schools.
Sad but true, again, most people always think nothing like that is going to happen with anyone they know. It's always the other guy.

Even the cops won't act unless something actually happens. You can't just turn somebody in and say you 'think' they're going to do something. There is one tragic story I saw on the news once where a girl had split with her abusive husband and was living with her sister. It was the girl's 28th birthday and her sister and some friends were having a party in the backyard with a stockade fence around it. The ex husband came out of his house with a gun and told the next door neighbor he was going to kill his wife. The lady was a friend and knew where she was so she immediately called the cops and told them to get over there he was coming with a gun. The cops said they couldn't send anyone on word of mouth if he hadn't really done anything but if he showed up with the gun to call again! The neighbor was upset and stunned. She hung up and called the girl's sister and told her to look out he was on his way with a gun. But by then he was already there jumping the fence and killing her
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Old 05-17-2004, 09:03 AM   #19
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Interesting..I understand how they can still be in so much denial, but it is offensive in my opinion to the victims' families

http://www.cnn.com/2004/US/Central/0....ap/index.html
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Old 05-17-2004, 09:12 AM   #20
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I know someone who is from Littleton, and he went to the neighboring public school to Columbine. He mentioned that the school was generally very polarized and "cliquey," and I doubt even I'd want to have gone there.

I also do question whether it is fair to blame the parents automatically. Anyone who is a parent will realize that it is *impossible* to control what their children are doing 100% of the time, especially as they get older. No, the blame should go squarely where it belongs: on the two boys themselves.

This American obsession with blame is getting out of hand.

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Old 05-17-2004, 09:16 AM   #21
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Originally posted by melon
No, the blame should go squarely where it belongs: on the two boys themselves.
I agree w/ that 100 percent, but I do think that the denial many parents are in, and their lack of involvement in their childrens' lives, is disturbing. I think Harris and Klebold must have been troubled on some deep level that went beyond the cliqueish nature of that school..
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Old 05-17-2004, 11:50 AM   #22
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I think it's interesting how neither set of parents "had no idea" and yet when heard of the shootings at Columbine, immediately sensed their sons were involved.

I live in Littleton, I would have been a 2000 Columbine graduate had circumstances not intervened. I worked with Columbine students, I waited on them. They were snotty and cliquey, sure, but no more than any other high school. And considering Klebold and Harris had BMW's and credit cards their parents paid the bills on, I question the Klebolds comdemnation of a "toxic climate." Columbine parents created the climate at that school more than anyone else, by giving their kids a car, endless supplies of money and no supervision, as soon as they turned 16.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not defending the school or the students, I can't stand them. I drive by Columbine every morning to get to the train, and there's not a day that I'm not nearly run off the road by one of their snotty members. I've waited on them and their parents for too many years. Now that I work in a college office, I deal with flunking students who claim they can't get good grades because "I was at Columbine." But Klebold and Harris weren't really any different than anyone who goes there and I'm sick of hearing the bully excuse--and it disgusts me even more coming from the parents.

The biggest irony of the whole thing was that at the time of the attacks, most of these supposed bullies were at the mall eating lunch. Everyone in the area, school knew that. The ones left behind were doing actual school work, or eating in the lunch room. Interesting who the ultimate Columbine "victims" ended up targeting.
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Old 05-17-2004, 11:59 AM   #23
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I think it's interesting how neither set of parents "had no idea" and yet when heard of the shootings at Columbine, immediately sensed their sons were involved.
Excellent point



I remember hearing about the BMWs..when I was in HS (more years ago than I care to admit, so I'm sure things have changed), it was a very cliqueish place, where many of the kids had things handed to them that I never had, and the athletes were treated like superior beings... far more so than the good students.

I was very unhappy there, but I concentrated on studying/grades, and managed to muddle through somehow. I also didn't exactly have the greatest relationship w/ my parents. That's just me of course, and everyone is different. But certainly I'd like to believe that my parents would have known if I was capable of something like that...They knew what I was doing basically at all times, and I had many responsibilities at home because my Mother worked.
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Old 05-17-2004, 12:42 PM   #24
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This whole thing is horrific. Thanks for the article Mrs. S, it was very interesting. And disturbing.

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And considering Klebold and Harris had BMW's and credit cards their parents paid the bills on, <snip>
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