A time to remember, a time for action
It’s been a year now since two disturbed, angry young men walked into their Front Range high school and, with guns and bombs, destroyed the belief that Colorado schools are immune to deadly student violence.
The April 20 anniversary of the Columbine massacre is a time to remember those who died and rejoice in the triumphs of the survivors.Their lives are uplifting reminders of the durability of the human spirit.
The anniversary also is a time to rededicate ourselves to making sure we never have to live through a similar tragedy in Routt County.
Statistics from a recent state study on youth show that school violence is on the decline — despite what the endless stories about Columbine may lead us to believe. That information is encouraging, but it also can be dangerous.
While it is understandable that we may feel worn out by the coverage of Columbine, we must not let that weariness dull our attention to our young people.That can be an easy thing to do, especially in light of the recent information on school violence. If we are ready to put Columbine — and school tragedy as a whole — behind us because of media saturation, it will be even easier to do so once we hear that violence in schools is decreasing.
But we must remember that student violence thrives in the vacuum of inattention. It is like an insidious, yet curable disease that develops unnoticed while we stay away from the doctor’s office.
If we pay attention to our schools and our young people — all of our young people –we will be so much more likely to diagnose the disease of student violence when it is curable; when it is a disaffected student who needs someone to talk to rather than a hardened, angry young person who has given up on reaching out.
But attention to our schools and young people shouldn’t be a priority of ours just because we want to prevent violence.
Let’s take the disease analogy a step farther.The goal of staying involved in the lives of our young people, of reminding them that they are cared for, should be to keep our community healthy. One way we do that is by diagnosing the disease of violence when it is curable.Another way is by encouraging the positive development of our youth. It’s two sides of the same coin.
It is a weak excuse to say that paying attention to our youth takes too much time.Assets for Routt County has some simple suggestions that can go a long way toward keeping our community healthy. They are things like getting to know the names of the children in your neighborhood and making a point to greet them by name; volunteering as a tutor or mentor at a school or community center; and offering praise to a young person who makes a good decision.
Columbine was a tragedy that should be remembered. The best way we can honor the anniversary is to make sure we are doing what we can to make sure it never happens again.
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