On April 20, 1999. Things changed. Not everyone that day knew just exactly how wide ranging those changes would be, but there was a huge cultural shift. The school shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado was one of stories that helped to form our current 24 hour news cycle. In fact, next school years seniors will have never lived in a “Pre-Columbine” world.
I’ll tell you how this story has affected me. I didn’t grow up in Colorado. I grew up in the Midwest, helplessly watching the story unfold as a college sophomore. I saw these kids that in so many was that were just like me, snap and make some terribly poor choices. I look back to this event and my desire never to see something like this again as a foundation to my call into youth ministry.
Many years later in 2012, I had the opportunity to visit and tour Columbine High School with a group of students and youth workers from all over the country thanks to Dare2Share. The feelings and emotions were raw. In many ways, looking back each year, they still are. After almost 18 years in ministry, I still desire to use my voice to say never again.
Students deserve a safe place to learn. Safe from violence from within or without. As a parent, one of my priorities is the training and safety of my own children. As a youth worker, your children come in next. Maybe the question we should all be asking is whether to include situational awareness to what we teach students. Another question to ask how we can partner with the school in ways that enhance the safety of all who are in the building. Does this mean that we need to take additional training? These types of questions are going to yield different answers in different communities.
Some states are looking at addressing these questions from a legislative means, such putting law in place to allow a designated number of staff on campus to be legal and trained concealed carriers, able to provide some response before law enforcement can arrive. This may or may be a great solution, but the conversations of how to keep students safe on campus is happening. This in itself is a good thing.
Regardless of what solution you support, join me in the dialogue and say “Never Again”.