tv 1999 Columbine High School Shooting CSPAN April 20, 2019 12:01am-2:11am EDT
crazy policies. this horrible situation of a cool policy that doesn't even work as the president wanted it to. a columbiaday, university forum on immigration policy and how to protect immigrant children. at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span, c-span.org, and the c-span radio app. >> the washington post has gathered data on school shootings since the april 20, 1999 tragedy at columbine high school in littleton, colorado. according to "the post," at least 143 children, educators, and others, have lost their lives during the 20 years since columbine. on that day, 12 students and one teacher died when eric harris and dylan klebold entered the high school with guns and homemade bombs. these shooters, students
themselves, committed suicide at the scene. over the next two hours, a look back at reaction to the shooting, and the views of authors who wrote about the tragedy. speakers include columbine students, parents, members of congress, vice president al gore, and first lady hillary clinton. we begin with president clinton, speaking one day after the shooting at an event honoring white house volunteers. mr. clinton: we want to thank you for being here. and we look forward to this day -- we want to thank you for what you do. this day, it turns out to be a very sad day for america. since, in my mind, you represent the best of american citizenship, what you do here every day as volunteers.
i think it is important that we take a little time to ponder how we, as american citizens, should respond to what has occurred in colorado. first of all, i think it's important that we remember that we must come together, and pray together, but we must also commit to act together. in littleton, we saw and continue to see horror and agony. we also see, in that horror and agony, the ties that bring us together as a national community. the police officers rushing towards the sound of gunfire with bravery and professionalism. students risking their own lives for their friends. the doctors and paramedics
summoning their skills, under astonishing pressure. the parents and neighbors whose love and concern sustained their children through that last long night, and who will be called upon to do much more in the days and weeks to come. we see, in a moment of agony, what is best in our community, and in our country. i have been particularly struck by the story of mrs. miller, the teacher who heard the gunfire and led dozens of students to safety in the choir room, who worked to keep them calm and quiet for hours while students removed ceiling tiles to let in more air. we will learn more stories of quick thinking and grace under pressure as the details unfold. all of us are struggling to
understand what happened and why. there is a deep desire to comfort the grieving, to counsel the children. we must also focus on what we are going to do. in littleton, agents from the atf and fbi already are on the ground providing tactical assistance to local authorities. highly trained crisis workers are ready to help people cope with their loss. one of the most outstanding centers in the nation for this sort of work is in denver. perhaps the most important thing all of us can do is reach out to each other, to families, and their young children. it is important to explain to children, all over america, what has happened, to reassure our
own children that they are safe. we also have to take this moment, once again, to hammer home to all of the children of america, that violence is wrong. parents should take this moment to ask what else they can do to shield our children from violent images and experiences that warp young perceptions and obscure the consequences of violence. to show our children, by the power of our own example, how to resolve conflicts peacefully. and as we learned at the white house conference on school safety, and as is reflected in the handbook that the secretary of education and the attorney general have sent to our
schools, we must all do more to recognize and look for the early warning signals that deeply troubled young people send before they explode into violence. surely more of them can be saved. and more innocent victims and tragedies can be avoided. in the days ahead, we will do all we can to see what else can be done. for now, not all of the children who were slain have been carried out, and i think it is important on this day that we continue to offer the people of colorado, the people of littleton, the families involved, the sheer knowledge that all of america cares for them, and is praying for them.
i ask you to join me in a moment of silent prayer, for those who lost their lives, for those who are wounded, for their families, and for those who love them and care for their community. [moment of silence] mr. gore: ladies and gentlemen, i came here to talk about nato, and an armed conflict an ocean away. before i begin those remarks, i want to say a word about jefferson county, colorado. for there is a war here at home, too. today, there's a high school on the outskirts of denver, where children should be learning, laughing, and playing. instead, as you well know, it is marked off with the yellow tape of a crime scene.
yesterday a great many precious young people lost their lives in a blaze of gunfire and explosives. now, jefferson county holds its own close. children who will never see their brothers, sisters, classmates, and friends again. parents who sent their children off in the morning with a kiss and a backpack full of schoolbooks, and in the afternoon had the most horrible telephone call a parent can ever receive. to all of the families of columbine high school, and the surrounding community, my wife tipper and i want to say that we are holding your grief in the center of our prayers. i would like to ask all of you to join me this morning in a moment of silence, for some of us, a moment of prayer, and the solidarity with those families whose grief is overpowering
today and for a community in search of healing, and respite. [moment of silence] mr. gore: thank you. i would give anything to be able to tell those families that their children were not lost in vain, that we could finally stop the violence and make all of our schools and neighborhoods safe again. there are questions that demand answers, questions of resources, will, and values. why are there some young people who place so little value on another human life? why, in a culture rife with
violence, in a country where teenagers have easy access to multiple deadly weapons, why don't we rise up and say no more? why is there any doubt that we should do more? i know how hard the struggle can be. tipper and i have been engaged in this struggle for a long time, as parents with four children and as voices with the help that parents need to navigate the destructive influences around us. parents, there is a war at home. today, at the dawn of a new century, we must choose the kind of america that we want for our children. we seek a 21st century where we leave inhumanity behind. the parents of america know that we must have the integrity and
courage to fill the spiritual vacuum in too many children's hearts. america can win the struggle. today, our nation feels the terrible pain of this tragic loss. tomorrow, we know what we all must do. we must work to replace a culture of violence with a culture of values in america. together, we can, and we must. [applause] mr. gore: in an earlier era, it was common to talk about planting seeds on ground where some would flourish and some would not. the constant bombardment of images and messages that glorify violence in the extreme are seeds that do not sprout in some
minds, in some hearts, indeed, in most. in others, they do sprout, and bear bitter fruit. we must speak out against this trend in our culture. we must teach our children right from wrong, and teach them that embracing the right values can transcend a moment's cheap sensation, or a sudden impulse of hatred, revenge, or the easy surge of power learned from a violent culture with too few anchors, too little family stability. a dearth of spiritual nurturing. we must cut off easy access to guns, drugs, and work to change a popular culture that glorifies violence and mayhem. we must work with our teachers, police, and our faith and values-based organizations to teach real responsibility.
to intensify the war on crime, drugs, and give our children alternatives so they never turn to crime in the first place. we must get parents more involved in their schools and children's lives. i've met fathers and mothers who are getting involved, trying to change the dynamic in their children's schools, and i know it can be done. we must win this war for our children, and that means we must make a change. not just when a new tragedy strikes, but in every moment in between. above all, let us demand goodness of ourselves and our children. the world's eyes are upon us, and our children's eyes are upon us too. we may never know the true causes of their murderous rampage, but from what we know today, the young killers who describe themselves as outcasts
brought this heartbreaking tragedy inside columbine high school as part of a tragic, conscious choice of evil over good. and although we may never solve the mystery of those murders in colorado yesterday, we know that our future is bright because we also do know the inner meaning of what happened here at ellis island, where outcasts by the millions described on the base of that statue as tired, poor, homeless, wretched refuse, came in different garb, isolated by language and culture from those they encountered in the land which they arrived and here, in this place, they connected with the american dream.
>> for what purpose does the speaker of the house rise? >> the gentleman may proceed. >> mr. speaker, yesterday, our nation witnessed a senseless tragedy in littleton, colorado. before i begin my one minute i would like the house to take a moment of silence, to remember the lives of those who died at columbine high school. [moment of silence] mr. hastert: mr. speaker, americans across this nation are trying to come to grips with the latest senseless tragedy that has hit one of our schools. why do some of our children feel
the need to kill? how can they feel such hate? why don't they have the moral framework that would stop this kind of tragedy? there are no easy answers to these questions, but some things i do know. we must do our best to make our schools safe. we must provide our children with the moral framework from which they can distinguish between right and wrong. we must stop the culture of death that makes vicious killers out of too many of our children. mr. speaker, our children are our future. if we don't teach them the differences between right and wrong, our nation's future is in peril. my deepest condolences go out to the community of littleton, colorado, especially to the parents of the students at columbine high school. as a parent of two boys, i can only imagine the grief that you're feeling today as you try to make sense of yesterday's tragedy. thank you.
>> the gentleman from colorado, mr. udall is recognized for five minutes. mr. udall: i would ask to address the house for five minutes. as a coloradan and an american, i am shocked and saddened by the shootings in columbine high school yesterday. my thoughts and prayers go out to the families who have been victims of this terrible crime. i can hardly imagine the horror and pain experienced by the families who lost loved ones in this tragedy. as the father of two school-aged children, i'm deeply distressed by the prospect that our schools have become places where this kind of violence can take place. today, however, is not a time to rush to judgment about the causes or cures for this tragedy. i do believe that parents,
community leaders, and policymakers at all levels, including school boards, state legislators, and our national government need to come together in coming weeks and reflect upon this tragedy. we need a fuller discussion of the values we share as americans, and we need to work more actively than ever before to make our schools safe and to ensure that our classrooms are places of learning and nurturing the full potential of our young people. mr. speaker, i hope that, as a nation, we respond to this by looking beyond our prejudices and political leanings. my concern is that the violence that took place in colorado has deeper implications for the future than we can fully fathom at this moment. i fear it goes deeper than observations about a decline in our values, or moral decay as a society. ultimately, this tragedy will challenge us to carefully
explore our understanding of rights and freedoms, whether it's access to the internet or access to guns. it will challenge us to place an even greater priority on the quality of our lives, and the lives of our children. thank you. i yield back the balance of my time. >> mr. president, if i might just say a few words about the tragedy in colorado. and i want to express my sincere sympathy for the families and the victims of yesterday's events. once again, we have witnessed a deadly school shooting in america's heartland. yesterday's events, though greater in magnitude than other shootings in recent years, have become part of a growing trend in this country, particularly among young people. and that is to solve everyday problems with deadly violence.
some of us have seen firsthand the gruesome effects of this violence. but we cannot imagine what the classmates and families of those colorado children must be going through today. the senseless loss, the graphic memory, the fear, the lack of explanation. who among us can imagine how we would feel if two dozen of our friends and classmates were gunned down in a matter of minutes? >> the time yielded has expired. >> may i have 30 seconds to sum up? >> without objection. >> mr. president, now is a time for grieving, but also for sincere reflection on the direction of this country, and the nature of television on violence, the breakup of the
family on violence, the increasing need of many young children to solve these problems with violence. and of course, the increasing access that young people have to the deadliest of weapons and the largest of ammunition feeding devices. i would very much like to be part of a movement to have a new ethic of family unity that speaks to what is right and wrong. to see that these firearms do not fall easily into the hands of youngsters, and to do what we can to reverse the violence that we see every night on every television set. to the senator from colorado, i offer my deepest sympathy and greatest sorrow for what i think is one of the blackest events on the history of our young people in this great country. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
>> i ask unanimous consent that the senator from colorado, senator campbell, be recognized, this would not appear to be part of the 30 minutes it has been dedicated to senators boxer and reed, and that his speech appear separate in the record, and after that i would ask that the chair that the final 10 minutes left with the senators would be given to the senator from new jersey. >> without objection, senator from colorado. >> i thank my friend the senator from nevada, mr. reid, and for the condolences and sympathy he has offered. yesterday, the parents in jefferson county in colorado said goodbye to their children on the way to school as they have done on countless mornings, as i have done, as you have also done as a parent over the years.
but for some, that goodbye must now be their final farewell. as a parent, grandparent, a husband, a person who taught school for over 10 years, i cannot imagine the agony those families are feeling. my whole state is paralyzed with grief, as you might know. hundreds of families in colorado endured a life or death lottery, knowing students at columbine were dead but not knowing if their youngsters were among them killed. it is tragic that on earth day, the mortal remains of those youngsters will be returned to the earth while their souls proceed to heaven. the community is a nice town. and columbine high school is a fine school, good curriculum, nice youngsters, no history of racial violence or gang trouble. it was not a school that you would expect something like this to happen in but certainly there is a story in that tragedy. for those families, their --
there will now be any hurried breakfast or arguments over a curfew, no more report cards, no more money for trips to the mall , and no more plans for after they would have left high school. what frightens me is despite our best intentions to prevent this from happening, these horrors find a way to continue. colorado has had a law on the books since 1994 that prevents weapons from going to public schools. they still do. sometimes a gun, bob, knife, club, whatever young people are using as violence, the way to resolve a disagreement. i can remember the day when young people decided it was ok to have disagreements in the streets and might have fistfights after school or drag races. they were not really right, they weren't acceptable but that was the days long gone by. now they tend to kill their way to solutions.
the dispute in those days was between two individuals and they ended up shaking hands afterwards. someone won, someone lost, and they moved on. now, so many innocent bystanders seem to be pulled into it. in those days, we lived through it. all too often, some of the parties of conflict and their lives. i don't know when we traded pugilism for pipe bombs. i think there are some that they haven't found. one went off as late as 2:00 this morning. i don't know when these youngsters got so accustomed to killing each other, but we also blame television, the movies, we blame video games. a number of other things. those children in jefferson county and their families ache every day. my colleague, senator wide, senator feinstein, a number of other senators, have offered their sympathies and we want colorado to know that our hearts are with all the families going
we wrote a song about the incident with the help of our pastor, andy miller. first of all, you might have heard us on the radio. all the proceeds of this cd are going to the victims -- or the families. you can get information on purchasing one at the governor's website. we wrote this song in dedication and pray that god's comfort can come through it, everyone affected by it. ♪
columbine, rose blood red heart break overflows my head columbine, friend of mine peace will come to you in time columbine, friend of mine ♪ >> we love you guys. thank you. [applause] >> i know i speak for all of us when i say that never in our wildest dreams did we ever imagine that we would be gathered here to mourn the loss of so many young, innocent lives. this crime is breathtaking in
its horror and its victims are many. there are those among us and those who are gone. they are students and parents and teachers. they are those beside us and those who are watching around the globe. thomas paine said that these are the times that try men's souls. the one comfort in this tragedy is the bravery our community has shown in responding to this crisis. those of you who have suffered through this event, who have responded with help, who have comforted the hurting, have
proven the strength of your souls. this is what courage looks like. a terrified student, instead of retreating in fear, reaches for a phone to call 911 to ask how he can help his wounded teacher. a dispatcher paces the floor for hours as he tries to coach the student for saving his beloved teacher's life. a police officer braved bullets to rescue trapped teenagers. a counselor sits for hours beside a grieving parent, listening or sharing the silence made deep with pain.
a teacher makes the supreme sacrifice and gives his life trying to save his students. the heroes are too many to list. some of them are sitting right beside you. courage is reflected in the eyes of the parents today, who are struggling to give their children hope in the face of incomprehensible pain. we continue the healing process today through the act of simply sharing our grief. our pain is profound and widely felt. jefferson county has more than 500,000 residents but, today, our community is much larger.
so many people throughout colorado and the world have called to express their sympathy and volunteer their services, and i know that i speak for all of our citizens when i say thank you. your caring is so very much appreciated. sharing our pain is the first step to healing. the second is to say that the lives we mourn today have great meaning, and their influence will be felt long after we leave here today. someone once said people come into our lives and quickly go. some stay for a while, and leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same again.
as a community, we have a long road ahead of us. in truth, we will never entirely lose some traces of this sadness. but we take comfort from each other and remind ourselves that the human spirit has great strength. the goodness we have seen in this last week is a more lasting expression of our community than any crime will ever be. thank you for allowing me to share this time with you. and now, i would like to introduce jane hammond, superintendent of the school district.
[applause] >> thank you all for being here, for being part of the jeff co family. i want all of you to know about the individuals, the organizations, and the businesses that have expressed their sorrow and support. we have been blessed with many gifts, gifts of goods and services, from people in the denver area, across the state, throughout our nation and in other countries.
our hearts have been touched. i am especially proud of the students and staff of columbine high school. [applause] >> they are operating under circumstances that none of us can truly understand. our prayers are with you. our hearts reach out to the parents, the siblings, and the relatives of those who lost their lives. it is a most senseless tragedy. the board of education and the staff offer our thoughts and prayers. you are experiencing what no
family should have to experience. we must also remember those that that are in the hospital struggling. we pray that your wounds heal soon. we have all been hurt by this unexplainable action of last week, actions that occur all too frequently in a civilized society. now we grieve, take time to cry, hug each other, and begin to heal. as we move through this, i hope that we have learned that our society finally sees that enough is enough. i hope -- [applause]
>> i hope that our students, our parents, our community members, our elected officials, our community leaders come together and do all that we can do so this never happens again. [applause] >> my mother was in the first class that attended columbine. both of my uncles, my aunt, and my two other brothers have graduated from columbine high. i remember when i was little in elementary school, i was forced to attend various columbine activities.
i remember watching those students like they were superheroes. i admired them and i looked up to them. but i cannot even begin to tell you how much i admire all the students and the faculty that were in that building on tuesday. both students and faculty showed more heroism and courage that i cannot even imagine having. i have heard of students helping students, faculty and administration risking their lives to lead students to safety. my heart goes out to all my classmates and my coach who are no longer with us. the memories we have of you will never be lost.
my prayers are with all my classmates in the hospital and realize that your strength has been an inspiration to us all. coach sanders, i love you and i will miss you. i know that each day, your memory will push me to become a better person and to live my life to its fullest. we all have different ways of handling adversity and in my family, whether in times of happiness or sorrow, we find strength through singing, so i would like to share one verse with you. ♪ don't lose your way with each passing day you have come so far don't throw it away live believing live your stories
everybody help me out. we are -- >> columbine! >> we are -- >> columbine! >> we are -- >> columbine! [applause] >> i saw an ad that says, a hero can be anyone who inspires you, anyone you look up to, anyone who cheers you on, makes you better than you were before, just as they made themselves better than they were. do you know a hero? tell them, then tell everyone. as long as i attend columbine, the expectation for excellence
has always existed. students, teachers, and other faculty members have always demanded the most from each other. as events unfold this past week, many students felt as if the good was ignored or overlooked. the success of our clubs, the outstanding performances by musical groups, the athletic accomplishments, and the overall loving family of columbine faculty and students. our school has a superb reputation for never letting go of our goal and striving for the best. despite the tragedies that occurred, the columbine family refuses to lose our spirit. we want everyone to look at our school and see what we all know. everyone here is a hero. everyone here has been a hero for a long time, and now the world gets to share what we have
kept to ourselves for so long. our teachers who come out at 6:00 in the morning and staying until all hours of the night to help us accomplish our goals. administrators who wonder into the classrooms to check up on us, and the ladies who make as smile each day when receiving our lunches. people who help clean up our school and enable us to be proud of it. our friends and fellow students who spend their time aiding us with our education. these are the people we look up to. these are our heroes. they earn our love and respect every day and now our fellow human beings have the chance to with our education. learn of the heroes we always knew. now is the time to learn from their bravery. we cannot let their lives be lost in vain. we must move forward, remembering the nobility. students and teachers that lost their lives deserve a part of our memory.
we can always think back and remember their smiling faces and remember our heroes. it is time to tell everyone of columbine's heroes. [applause] >> this is a first step of many that this community and nation must take to heal ourselves of the violence at columbine high school. it has been said that we are most likely to remember that which we would most like to forget. for the students and faculty, their hearts will forever be saddened by this horror. for the families and friends of the slain, a part of you will always be empty.
and, for the wounded, we pray that god's healing power will be with you. to the columbine high school community, to the students and faculty and parents, i pledge to you on behalf of the people of the state of colorado that we will stand with you shoulder to shoulder as you face your future. we will be there with you, hand in hand, as you lead us in repairing the fabric of our broken community. as we live more about the tragic events of tuesday, we learned how short of their goal the killers fell. yes, they took far too many precious lives, but they failed in their goal to kill hundreds more and to burn the school to the ground. through all the pain, one thing is clear. this community will not be beaten.
standing side-by-side as your neighbors, your love and courage will triumph over evil. we are here today because so many innocent people have died. in their memories, we can start by saying, together, no more. no more raising of children who do not value human life. no more parental indifference to the evil that torments their children's souls. and no more children forced to grow up in a culture of death and destruction. we need to better understand who and what feeds and profits from this dark subculture. why is it that so many americans patronize those who all too often glorify violence rather than condemn it? we do need to talk about these things. we need to talk about these things as parents and neighbors, as fellow americans who have a
responsibility to preserve what responsibility to preserve what is best in our community and to improve the rest. friends, we have lost too many treasured lives, but we are here to celebrate that these coloradans from columbine high school, they graced our lives. these sons and daughters, students and teachers, friends and neighbors, brought joy and hope into our world. let us honor and celebrate them. god, we ask that you watch over their souls and grant them eternal peace. please join me in praying for the families of isaiah shoels, john tomlin, dan rohrbough, rachel scott, cassie bernall,
>> on april 27, 1999, the house of representatives passed a resolution honoring the victims of the columbine high school shooting. this portion of the debate includes remarks by congressman tom tancredo. his district included littleton, colorado. he is followed by congresswoman caroline mccarthy, whose husband was shot to death on a commuter
train in 1993 along with six others. >> mr. speaker, the veneer that separates civilization from barbarism, that separates good from evil, is very thin, and it appears everywhere to be wearing thinner. last week, it wore through in my hometown, and the evil seeped out and stole the lives of 12 innocent children and one valiant teacher at columbine high school. yesterday, my son ray gave me something he had written in response to this tragedy. i believe it is not just fatherly pride that compels me to read parts of it. i believe he eloquently captures the nature of the culture that eats away at our national soul. i would like to cite a part of it. do you believe in god? yes, i believe in god.
17-year-old cassie bernall's life ended with that answer. our answers to the columbine high school murders begin with the same question. our answer must be the same as cassie bernall's. or the nihilistic fury unleashed by those two murderers will prevail. people search for meaning in people search for meaning in these brutal, senseless acts. people question the norms of a society where monstrous violence can be countenanced. people question the righteousness, even existence of a god that can allow such pain. these are valid but unanswerable questions. we can speculate and hypothesize, we can blame and vent, but, in the end, we cannot fathom the meaning of this event or presume to comprehend this evil. nevertheless, our choice is stark. do you believe in god or not?
an answer to the question is the whole of what we take away from the columbine massacre, for the answer means everything. we either coast in the cultural currents of nihilism or we embrace god on our knees and pray for his grace and forgiveness. that is the choice. the comfortable in between is gone. in reporting on adolf eichmann's 1960 trial in jerusalem, a philosopher noted the banality of evil. that is how small, petty, and unoriginal evil appears. she was speaking of eichmann, a trivial bureaucrat who efficiently and systematically undertook the murder of jews in europe. likewise, here, evils banality is made plain. two disaffected punks have changed life in my hometown forever.
in the end, my conclusions are unsatisfying and incomplete. sin is real, evil is real. the inscrutable evil of these men made perfect sense from within their world. if i do not believe, if we do not believe, then their nihilism is right. and even if we do not embrace it, we have no means to stop others from doing so. pray the lord's mercy on us. i reserve the balance of my time. >> the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentlewoman is recognized. >> thank you, mr. speaker. i yield myself for three minutes and ask consent to my remarks. first i would like to thank the representative for bringing this important resolution to the floor. my thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their
families, and my admiration goes out to the heroic men and women who offered their support and assistance during this time of crisis. as we mourn the victims of the tragic school shooting in littleton, colorado, we come to realize the gun violence and violence in our schools can happen everywhere. it affects all of us on a daily basis. from pearl, springfield, littleton, paducah, kids are using guns to harm their classmates. each and every day, throughout our towns and communities, we lose 13 young children a day. that is an entire classroom every two days. mr. speaker, over the last several years, i have had to stand here and talk about all the shooting.
it starts to wear you down. because you realize the pain that all these families are going through. you realize all the pain that the whole community will start to go through. yet we are seeing, constantly, more and more and more. we here in congress will be doing this resolution. every single member of this body feels the pain. but i do believe that we also have a moral obligation to try and save other families to go with through what they have in colorado. we do not have all the solutions. they are all complex. but i do believe that we should start to think about what we can do.
i hope that i can look forward to working with all of my colleagues here today. to solve the problems of our young people. i know families across the nation will join together to demand that politics be taken out of this debate. we must do what we can do to deal with children and guns. too many children, too many parents, and too many families have already suffered. enough is enough. thank you, and i reserve the balance of my time. >> one month after the shooting, president clinton and first lady hillary clinton traveled to littleton, colorado, and spoke to the students and families of columbine high school. here are remarks by the first lady. [applause]
ms. clinton: thank you. thank you, heather, thank you dr. hammond, thank you, mr. deangelis, and most of all, thank you, the students of columbine. you know, when we walked in, i saw the tears that was going from one side to the other side. the chant we are columbine that went back and forth. and the enthusiasm and energy that was behind that cheer but to me it was more than that. it was a real statement about who you are and who we are. in a very real way, what happened here at columbine has
so deeply affected the rest of our country that we are all columbine. we have suffered and wept and prayed and hoped and yes, cheered. as lives have been mourned and those who are injured, have healed, as parents and citizens have come together to ask where do we go from here? and does all of you who are the students of columbine have shown us over this last month, your courage and grace, your kindness, and your love. we have spent time with the families of those who lost someone they loved.
it is not the first time that my husband and i have done that. we have listened to and looked into the eisenhower the hands and felt the hugs and -- of men and women and children who have suffered the evil and the tragedy that intervened unexpectedly, a bombing of an embassy, the shooting down of a plane or an accident that lost lives. and we have always been moved by and felt deeply the pain that others were suffering. and no tragedy is ever like any other tragedy, because every person is unique and everyone who is lost is a gift of god who
should have been cherished and who has to be remembered. but what happened here at columbine a month ago has had an impact unlike any that i have ever seen or felt. it has pierced the heart of america. what we are all looking for and what we hope we can find from a tragedy like this is how we move forward together to do what we can to help prevent this ever happening again. of course, even today, yet another school was terrorist -- terrorized by a shooting. thankfully, no one was killed, but it should never have happened.
so as we meet here, as we imagine as hard as it must be what this past month has been for you, the losses, the questions, the glare of the world spotlight, i think we all know that there are no words that are adequate to your experience. but i hope you know that the way you have conducted yourselves and the story and the story of those killed and injured have been an inspiration and a motivation for many people home you'll never meet. we are inspired by the strength of the students and the teachers, by your determination to return to school to finish out your year with your friends and your classmates were
inspired by your refusal to let violence and hatred when. we are inspired by the courage of the families who have faced a moment that every parent praise will never happen. we are inspired by the words we heard today as well as what we have heard in the past month as to how so many of you are looking for opportunities to reach out, to make sure that here in this community and as far as the ripples can go, the messages that you feel you want to communicate to each other will be heard. we heard those messages today, listening to parents, brothers, and sisters, grandparents, a wife, children.
and the message had many different sounds to it coming from different voices. but what struck me was how clearly those who have been most wounded want to turn this into something positive for others. that is what we have seen from the columbine community. and it has inspired reactions literally around the world. one family told us of receiving a letter from france written completely in french. they could not read it, but they knew what it said. i know of the young boys and i know of the young boys and girls around the country who have been writing letters and drying pictures to share their feelings. and i know here in jefferson county the services that have been offered and the way people
are trying to knit together more help. many of you will be graduating, and i congratulate you. it was not so long ago that our daughter graduated, and i remember the conversation around our kitchen table and listening to her friends as they were planning their summer plans are thinking about college are going to work. and i know you're thinking about all of that as well. perhaps more than others, you may also be thinking about what kinds of communities and countries you want to raise your own children in some day. and how we will take what happened in columbine and not only never forget it, but use it to make more opportunities for others to live the kind of lives we would have wished for those who were lost.
imagine what our country could accomplish if everyone acted as your principal described you as a family. members of the human family as well as the columbine family, the members of the community and a nation that was committed to making sure that we helped each other, we cared about each other, we reach out to one another. imagine as we heard from your principal would it would mean if more parents in this community and around our country thought about what more they could do to spend time with their own children, to listen to your concerns, your dreams, your fears, your aspirations. imagine what could happen if more young people talked more openly with one another as well as with their parents and other
adults, looking for ways to heal the wounds that all of us carry just from life's everyday experiences. and imagine if every adult in america began looking at his or her personal and professional and public life with a view toward making sure that whatever we do is good for children. there is no more fitting monument or tribute to those who died then to promise ourselves that we will do everything we can to prevent it from happening anywhere else. but more than just preventing something bad from happening, that we will commit ourselves to make a positive difference in the lives of those around us. we cannot roll back the clock and undo the tragic events of a month ago.
but we can fight the bitterness and hopelessness that we can our resolve to remain part of one community. we can reach out where children are taught to care and not to hate. we can also offer a kind word to people could your -- people. we can bridge the differences that too often come between us, and we can look for ways at all levels of society to make the changes we know we have two make. i hope that we will be able to reach a better understanding of what we need to do to care for our young people. and i hope that if we all feel that we are columbine as the cheer goes, we will not give up until we do make it better for everyone. >> you are watching a program marking the 20th anniversary of the mass shooting at columbine
high school. 12 students and one teacher were killed, making it the deadliest high school shooting at the time. the groundbreaking ceremony for the columbine memorial took place on june 16, 2006. one of the speakers at the event was dawn, whose daughter lauren townsend was killed. >> they are here. can you hear them? kyle, kelly, dan, matt, corey, steven, rachel, daniel, john, cassie, isiah, dave, and my lauren.
we are here because we love them. we are here to honor them. we are here to remember them this day and every day hereafter. we are here as a family and as a community that has been through the darkest of days and it does is coming through to the light. we are here to break this ground on a memorial for precious loved ones because it is right, and it is time to do so. memorials, memories, april 20, 1999. remember the love, remember the
unity, not just in this community, but in the nation and throughout the world. remember the horror, remember how broken your heart felt that, heartfelt, that hollowness and helpless feeling, that pain, seared so deeply it never seemed to want to go away. helpless feeling, that pain, i wish i could tell you not to remember those agonizing pieces, but you must. because it is in that deepest of pain, that darkest of night that we fall to her knees and we can learn a lot from that place. we can find yourselves. we can find our faith.
we can find our friends, and we can find our strength. and that darkness, we can truly see the light of hope and follow it to what is true and light. that is what our 13 have given us, and we must not let them down. they must remember what we have learned in the darkness. remember what you were feeling then? some of the comments and some of the promises that i remember hearing or things like, i am going to be a better parent. i am going to spend more time with my child. see, god remembers. this job that i am in, does not give me enough time with my
family. i have to rearrange my priorities. i have learned i can lean on my neighbors and they can lean on me. it is great to have someone to talk to. my faith makes me stronger area dad all of us have more in common than we do differences. people were friendly in stores, they were more patient when they were driving. are just standing in line and smiling at each other. we were more kind and grateful and evil and vicious acts had generated love and gentleness everywhere. do you remember feeling and acting like that? do you remember the changes that you are going to make, and if you made those changes, i say, we all say bravo.
great for you, good for you. we all applaud you, and if you lost your goal, then it is time to refocus. this memorial will help us do that. this memorial will give us a place to peacefully reflect on how our lives changed that day and the days thereafter. this memorial world -- will give us an opportunity to know better each of the 13 lives that were taken from us that day. it was -- they were each so special, so beautiful, and still so loved. each one of us is poor that they
were taken from us before being allowed to give their full talents and grace to the world. at the memorial, we can rekindle, reconnect, rebuild, rejoice, recommit, and, if necessary, redirect our lives to live them to the fullest, to honor our precious 13. and the lives that we were meant to live. but memorials are made of stone and brick. we, the wounded, we must become
living memorials. we must speak for those who cannot speak for themselves area for those who are murdered. our daily actions must be a testament to what we have learned and the love we had to give. families of those who were murdered have established foundations and the names of their loved ones. scholarships and grants are awarded every year orphanages, homes have been built. all of this has been done to honor the loved ones, extend their memories, and commemorate what they would be doing if they were alive this day. to the young student who survived the massacre, i quote nelson mandela. [thunder] >> sometimes, it falls upon a generation to be great. you can be that generation.
you can be that generation. you can take what you have learned and become that generation. it will not be easy, but pain cannot be wasted. it must be used to help others. i heard once that a man was praying to god and he said, god, there is a much pain and suffering in this world, whiter you send someone to help, and god answered him and said, i did send help. i sent you. all memorials begin when the groundbreaking just as our journeys together begin with broken hearts. and know grief never ends.
just as one tilde if permanent scars and disabilities that are -- our injured students must contend with for the rest of their lives, grief me -- leaves permanent scars in our lives. we are all left with what life might have been, and the permanent emptiness that will never be filled. the holes in our hearts never grow smaller. but our goals each day should be to do something that makes our hearts bigger so that the holster that seems a big. although their breaths have ceased, their memories and spirits should not. [thunder] >> let each shovel of overturned
dirt represent our continued search for truth, our united effort to protect our children, and our new commitment not to forget and to implement what we have learned in the darkness. remember them, kyle, dan, matt, corey, steven, rachel, daniel, john, cassie, isaiah, dave, and lauren, and beauty and peace. they walk by loving each other. we honor them. love always wins. thank you. god bless you. [applause] indave: published his book
2009. it includes a detailed account of the shooting and examines the picketf the two gunmen c-span2's book tv interviewed 2009 los angeles festival of books. dylan?were eric and >> they were the two killers at columbine. eric was a psychopath and dylan was not. they were completely different people. i spent 10 years on this book. the question i get asked the most often is, why did they do it? it took me about a year to figure out that is the wrong question, because there is eric and why he did it and there is dylan, and they are completely different people. >> do you want to talk about each one of them? >> eric was a psychopath, eric harris, and he was the mastermind of the plot.
he spent a couple of years trying to figure out how he could destroy the entire world. that was his real fantasy as a 16-year-old boy, wipe out humanity, only to leave three or four or five people. because to a psychopath, the power of life as well as death makes them feel more powerful, a god can give life as well as take it away. they are not so delusional us to think they are god, but they are as important as god. it is a messiah complex. the key thing of a psychopath is that there is no compassion, empathy, no regard for the welfare of others, for anything. typically they are nonviolent because it is just about meeting their own needs, so you see them as white-collar criminals, ponzi schemes, conmen, crooked politicians, you might think of a few recent ones that come to mind. that is a classic psychopath, someone who would destroy other
people's lives, destroyed a state or country for the most trivial gain on their own part. that is a psychopath, typically nonviolent, but when the person has a sadistic streak, you have a ted bundy, jeffrey dahmer or eric harris. that is the mold he comes from. >> do you want to talk about dylan? >> dylan is completely different. polar opposite personalities. dylan went along with the plan but he was not driving it. when you look at their journals, eric's journal is filled with hate all the way through. the opening line is i hate the f'ing world and it is hate on every page. but with dylan, it is completely different. dylan spent two years writing his journal, and the most common
word in his journal is love. it is completely unexpected. dylan was a revelation in this case. he was a loving, sensitive boy with a whole lot of anger, but his anger was mostly directed inward, anger at himself for being a loser, an outcast. he wasn't. it was objectively untrue, but that is how he saw it. dylan tried so hard loving the world, and thought the world wasn't loving him back. and gradually, he takes a really slow evolution. he was depressed, an easy adolescent diagnosis, but that isn't enough, two years of watching this kid who looked like he would never kill under the influence of eric harris, and he gradually turns that anger from inward at the rest of the world, and instead of blaming me, it is blaming all the rest of you people that did this to me, and i'm going to take a lot of you with me and show you on the way out.
so dylan still committed suicide, but took a lot of people with him. >> in your book you right, dylan's mind raced every day, he was 15, he was eric's number one go-to guy, and none of that mattered. what were their missions? >> the missions were an early symptom of something going awry. their sophomore year, eric and dylan started doing these pranks, but eric called them missions because he was grandiose about everything. he saw them as this big thing where we were showing people how great we were. there were just shooting off firecrackers, egging houses, then they got nastier, superglue on mailboxes and so forth. and what is interesting about the missions is that you see a progression with eric going from
petty vandal to petty thief to felony theft to murder. he didn't just start out a mass murderer, he had his own gradual, criminal progression, where if he hadn't done something like columbine, it's clear he would have become a career criminal. he had a sadistic streak, and he wanted to kill people for very simple reasons, for his own aggrandizemeant end because he enjoyed it, he wanted to have fun and he wanted to show it. understanding a psychopath, it doesn't take a whole lot to understand what one is. it is a fairly simple complex. it is hard to believe that it is true, that somebody will kill someone, he wanted to kill hundreds of people, but will do that for the most petty gain for himself. >> april 20, 1999 was the date of columbine, the massacre at the high school.
eric started planning this in 1997? how did you discover that? >> well, they kept lots of records. after a seven-your legal battle, jefferson county released nearly 1000 pages of writings that the killers left. they each left a journal. they left school assignments. eric wrote on his website about all he wanted to do, and they made videotapes explaining themselves. in the last month they decided that wasn't enough. the fbi agent in the case is a major character in the book, sort of an unwinding detective story. he was a supervisory special agent, famous hostage negotiator, a brilliant psychologist who by an odd coincidence happened to take over the case. but he said in his entire fbi career, he had never seen a
killer who died leaving this much material explaining themselves. so we have an extraordinary amount of information, and i spent the last couple of years digging through all this information and talking with psychologists and psychiatrists the fbi brought into the case to understand that. it is very clear-cut once you dig through the information. it was hard to make out their handwriting and took a while to decipher what they were doing, but once you understand their psychological condition, it is much easier to understand them. you have to understand what a psychopath is and how they tick to understand how to interpret eric, because he follows a very classic pattern. >> did wayne and kathy harris recognize eric was in trouble? >> that he was troubled and that he got in trouble, they had no idea of the extent of trouble. and almost nobody recognizes a psychopath.
if you think of somebody like hannibal lector, you have to throw out the hollywood version because a psychopath is never going to tell you they are going to eat your liver. you would be the last person in the world to know they are a psychopath. in the first classic book on psychopaths that was published in the 1930's, it was called "the mask of sanity," because there are two characteristics of psychopaths. one is their total lack of empathy and compassion for everybody, for anyone. but the even more important characteristic, in the book, was the ability to disguise that lack of empathy, as if wearing a mask. psychopaths are nearly always charming, they are people we turn to to trust. after we are in bankruptcy court or divorce court, they are the person you turned to for help, that is most likely the psychopath, that is how good they are. so parents never recognize they have a psychopath in the house, and the harris parents knew eric
was acting out and got in trouble sometimes, they were having to see a psychiatrist to put him on zoloft, they disciplined him strongly, but they had no idea why he was acting out. i want to throw out one other idea for people to consider. eric was gobbling up shakespeare, writing papers on king lear and macbeth, euripides, and he would write the most amazing apologies. so you have a kid, he acts up, sometimes gets in trouble, and when he explains himself he shows deep, utter remorse, he quotes shakespeare, and how in king lear he learned a similar thing there, you will give a kid like that a lot of latitude.
you have a brilliant kid who seems to be doing well and sometimes he gets in trouble and dax up, so they knew they had a problem child, but what kind of parent thanks, he acts out sometimes, i wonder if he is considering mass murder? >> did the klebold parents recognize dylan's problems? >> they knew they had a shy kid and he had been painfully shy. when he went to high school he felt like a fish out of water. he had been in a gifted program in grade school, enjoyed it, spent years with a small cluster of kids where it was cool to be a brain, but he went to high school and he felt awkward, he didn't talk to people right away until he got to know them. they knew he was struggling, but they had no idea it was that bad. he's like a lot of teenage kids.
i think that is the scary thing about columbine, that dylan klebold was a typical high school kid. >> you write that eric harris was typical, girlfriends, smart, had friends. >> eric led a typical life, but psychopaths lead a double life. what is going on inside, they are planning to rip you off or whether they are planning to kill you, they live a life as their cover, it is what they need -- think of ted bundy, he was working on a crisis hotline helping suicidal people, and it was all a cover.
he wasn't interested in helping other people, but that is what they do. eric was feigning a normal life and building this cover, with very different things going inside. >> kathy bernal? >> kathy bernal is a christian martyr, one of the biggest redemption stories from columbine. there are a lot of great redemption stories and i try to go through them in the book. there are some uplifting things, but that particular one didn't happen. it was a misunderstanding. the story went that kathy was hiding underneath the table and the killer came up, asked her if she believed in god at gunpoint, and she was killed. she became a huge christian martyr worldwide and there was sort of a following. it turned out there were two girls in the library involved. what happened with kathy was, she was hiding under the table praying for her life, eric walked up to the table, slapped it with his hand, said peekaboo, put the nose of his shotgun under the table and shot her in the head. she died instantly. terribly sad, tragic. in another part of the library, dylan shot some people with a
shotgun and she was hit by part of the blast, pellets up and down her body, bleeding, crawling away, dylan started taunting her and asked her if she believed in god. she said yes. they had an exchange about it, he asked her why, they talked back and forth, then he got distracted by eric, walked away, he didn't care who lived or died. he let her go. so she lived to tell. which is also an uplifting story, a girl gets asked if she believes in god, professes her faith and lives. but there was another boy under one of the tables who overheard this, didn't know either of them, and somehow mistakenly thought that it was kathy who had said it. he started telling people, a completely honest mistake, the story spread, the word went, and we reporters never really did our job of checking and asking grieving victims, have do you
know it was kathy, how well do you know her, do you recognize her voice, those kinds of tough questions. we ran with the story and allowed that to become one of the biggest myths of columbine. >> speaking of myths, there was a headline in "the denver post," healing begins, april 22, 1999. why is this a myth in your view? >> that was an unfortunate thing that they regretted, and everyone involved columbine regrets. if i could give one piece of advice to future communities to go through these tragedies is don't rush to that healing. when you talk to anti-mental health workers or even any pastors who have done funerals or work with greeting people, it takes months and years for people to deal with their grief. we tried rushing them into it. heal now.
you have a couple of weeks and now, back on this. many people really didn't start understanding their own grief until a year or more out. the crisis group brought into the high school to deal with students who had posttraumatic stress disorder and so forth, they did not even reached their peak utilization until six months out and stayed at that peak level for a year and a half. so trying to take a grieving person a day and a half after and say, start getting better now, they are not ready yet. we really need to back off and give them space. they felt terribly rushed into it. they felt bitter and resentful for years because of that. >> the final portion of our program marking the 20th anniversary of the columbine high school shooting features sue klebold, whose son dylan was one of the shooters.
her book "a mother's reckoning: living in the aftermath of tragedy," was published in 2016. she appeared on book tv speaking with the executive director of the national alliance on mental illness that year. >> the book itself is really about your journey, and your thinking over time about this incident, reflecting on it. can you talk to us about that journey, your reflections, what you learned, the lessons you learned when you were writing this. you said in the beginning it took you 17 years to process what happened. talk about what you learned and what you want people to know you learned from the journey you have been on. mrs. klebold: this is going to sound fragmented, but they are somewhat disjointed.
one of the things i learned is that love is not enough to protect someone that we love from illness. and that illness may be a mental illness or a brain illness. i think i have always believed in my heart that you could love away someone's bad thoughts. and that is very naive on my part. but i think there was something in me that believed that. that is one of the lessons i took away, and that is that we have to do much more than just love someone and be there for them and be supportive, and be on their side. much more has to be done and how we communicate and how we support, and how we have and find access to good health care, good, skilled technicians that know how to help in different situations. another thing i learned was probably bad advice, never trust what you see.
what you see may be a lie. someone you love may be working very hard to wear a mask that hides what he is thinking and feeling. always be aware of that, because it will change the way you interact. i think things i learned about myself, perhaps more than anything else i learned from the nature of a tragedy that is as complex as this one, it was very hard to focus on pure grief for the loss of my son. that was one of the things i had to work very hard in therapy, it was don't focus on your humiliation, don't focus on your fear of being sued by all these families, don't focus on your life changing and coming to an end as you know it. the real work in all of this is to find your way back to the grief for the individual you loved who did such a terrible thing.
and i feel that by focusing on that grief, if other individuals have losses due to suicide or murder-suicide, the important thing is to remember that the way they died is not who they were. >> you talk in the book about a lot of mail you got, boxes and boxes of mail. and you talk about how it really helped you to have letters from people, families who had a loved one who died by suicide, going to your point about getting that support in grief. hearing their stories seemed to help you. where i work we have support groups and education classes led by families and other people that have mental illness, and that helps people. why was that helpful to you?
mrs. klebold: after something like this happens, you really feel that no one else can understand what you have gone through. i really felt like i had gone through a looking glass and was living in a different world, or i was living on one planet and everyone else was living on a different planet. and when i spoke with people who had lost children to suicide, or had loved ones who were incarcerated, it was somehow very comforting, it was comforting for me to know that i wasn't the only one trying to sort this out, that other people had experienced these things, and to see that there were going on with their lives, they were productive human beings, they had not let this destroy them, it was very heartening to see that that was possible, and that maybe someday i would have a life, too, that would feel like a normal life again, whatever that means.
mary: you talked about how you could give back by listening. can you talk a little bit more about that? we find that when people are moved to be able to help someone else, to listen to someone else, they can help to heal them. can you talk about how that affected you? mrs. klebold: that was, to me, an important marker of my own healing. because in the beginning, after the medical loss, we have a need to talk about it, we all do. it is like that old poem, "the rime of the ancient mariner," when the old man wants to talk about the albatross and what he experienced. by re-telling our stories and talking about what we are experiencing and thinking and feeling, it takes the sting out of it. it allows us to desensitize a little bit, to get used to hearing the story and knowing that it is us and our lives and that is what we need to live with.
when we get to a place where we are not able to interject ourselves, when that need is gone, that is really a market that we have come a very long way in our own healing. and i was so filled with joy when i found that i had gotten to a place where i no longer needed to talk about my loss and my story, but that i was able to listen to someone else. because i think when you give someone the opportunity to talk and tell their story, and you listen and you support and you don't judge, i think that is the greatest gift we can give to another person.
mary: you talked in the book about how you wish you had listened more to some of the things that were going on with dylan, his perfectionism, other characteristics. can you talk about that, what you wish you had listened to, and what you think was important to have heard? mrs. klebold: in one of my interviews i did speak with someone who gave me a question that he recommended. he was a psychiatrist. and he said, here is something i think every parent of a moody teen should ask. and i wish i had this question to ask when dylan is living, and it is this. tell me something about yourself that no one understands, but that causes you pain? and then, listen for the answer. don't try to talk them out of it, don't try to say, it is
because you are a teenager, these are tough years. just listen. and when they have completed answering the question, then say, tell me more about that. and i share that with everybody i can, because it is a perfect example of an open-ended question. it is way to ask someone, to give someone an opportunity to speak, to hear what they have to say, to listen without judgment, to experience empathy for what their experience is, without trying to jump to what to do about it. mary: and you say in the book, you are not excusing what your son did at columbine. do you want to talk about that in your feeling about the tragedy? mrs. klebold: i didn't want anyone anywhere to think that i was simply concluding, well, dylan was depressed and therefore he became a murderer. because it is ridiculous. it is untrue.
i cannot ever fully explain how dylan could get to a place where he would willingly consider murdering people and blowing up a school. it is hard for me to understand and accept. there is no way i can justify this. yes, he experienced a toxic culture at the school. yes, he had an influential friend. but i don't think i will ever fully understand how it could happen. that is why i so earnestly wanted to donate funds from the book to research and to support programs and prevention programs, because i think we have many answers that we need to find.
mary: you mentioned your son's friend eric harris, and some believe it was the dynamic between the two of them that contributed to the tragedy. what are your thoughts on that? mrs. klebold: i believe that is true. i believe that is highly likely. i had quite a few experts i talked with that did support and substantiate that belief, and i believe that for whatever reason, reasons i may not ever understand in my lifetime, there was a chemistry between them, there was an interdependence. somehow dylan was willing to go along with a plan to blow up the school, to kill people, and i don't know what it was in dylan that made them do that, but i believe the impact of that friendship was a significant causal factor. mary: have you talked with eric's parents at all, have they
talked about the book with you at all? mrs. klebold: when i get asked about the harrises, or even my own family, i usually back off from the question a little bit, because individuals who lose family members and murderer-suicides, from what i have met, most often don't want to be in the limelight, they don't want to be recognized, they don't want to be talked about. it is too difficult for them even to accept what they did, to face what they did, to be reminded over and over again. so i am going to protect the privacy of individuals associated with this, and simply say yes, i have been in contact with them from time to time. mary: do you feel the same way talking about the families of the individuals who died at columbine? have you spoken with them, or do you prefer not to talk about them?
mrs. klebold: i have communicated with some of them, and with a few more as the result of the book's publication, but i would not share much if anything about conversations, because i want to protect their privacy as well. mary: i understand. what about dylan's friends? i know you talk about them in the book and how this was difficult. what about the friends who experienced something, and have to live with the aftermath? mrs. klebold: certainly what happened in the tragedy was like a pebble in the water, and the circles kept widening of how it affected people adversely. and some of dylan's friends did experience difficult times. i know that one did require hospitalization, so it was difficult for his friends. disbelief, unable to put the pieces together so that they made sense.
mary: one thing you talk about in the book is the fact that people look for someone to blame, you talk about that failing. can you address that issue, can you address how you came to understand that people have that need, but that it didn't affect you the same way it did in the beginning? it was difficult and troublesome for you but over time, you worked through some of that. mrs. klebold: i don't think i will ever work through it completely. it is still very hurtful to hear some things that are set. it is difficult for us as human beings to be rejected and judged and criticized. it is not just difficult because of this one situation. look at the example of road rage, where our anger takes over and controls how we behave. so i don't think it will ever be something that is easy and comfortable, but i certainly understand people's need to feel anger.
a lot of that stems from the early reporting on the tragedy, when so many things were said that were false. there was misinformation, and a lot of people imprinted that as fact and still believe to this day that some things, such as them being nazis or goths, none of those things were true, and things said by elected officials, those had an effect as well. i forgot the second half of your question. mary: you said you hadn't quite worked through it and you are not sure you will. mrs. klebold: right. one other thing i will say is that, when people do horrible things, and we see something like that in the news, all of us want to believe such a thing could never happen to us, so we
have a need to believe that the other person or the other person's family is different from our own, and that is a coping mechanism for people to deal with the fear and trauma that they have. so i understand how it makes people feel better that our family was evil, that dylan was not loved, that i was a neglectful, self-centered mother, that makes people feel like something like that could never happen to them. mary: you talk in the book about how those things are true. you want to take a few minutes to talk a little bit about dylan's growing up in your family life? mrs. klebold: every family has imperfection, ours did too, we had struggles, but basically i believed i was a good mother, i loved my children dearly. i had been a teacher, so i was thrilled, one of the things that thrilled me most about dylan when he was growing up was his brilliant little mind. he was precocious, playful, he was loving, and it seemed to me as parents that every decision we made was to do what was in the best interest of our children.
and certainly we taught them right from wrong. i used every moment that i could find to teach morality and goodness and treating other people as we would want to be treated. so i honestly don't believe that the environmental piece of what went on in the family was a causal factor for his being involved in the tragedy. and i did a lot of searching, i was in therapy, and i would say, i wish i said this, i wish i did this, and my therapist would remind me, you said that, you did that.
and over time i tried to forgive myself for being a mother and not knowing what dylan experienced. mrs. klebold: you talk in the book about how dylan was a perfectionist and that he got upset when things didn't go quite the way he expected them to go. and you say that thinking back on it, that was important to you. can you talk about how that affected your later views, looking back on the tragedy? mrs. klebold: yes. dylan was a gifted child, he was in a gifted program, and he was so bright and learned things so to go. quickly. and he had a very significant capability to stick with something until it was completed, and he experienced a lot of frustration around that. i can still remember hearing him banging on his keyboard in his computer in his room because of some microsoft product. he would get impatient and frustrated, but he would not quit.
that was one of the things i treasured most about him. so when he became an adolescent and started having a little trouble at school, and things weren't coming quite so easily for him, i saw that as a good thing. i saw that as a lesson in life where he was going to have to loosen up a little bit, accept that life isn't perfect, you can't always make it the way you want it to be, and when he would be unhappy with a particular incident or something that would happen, i did not see this as a negative experience in his life, i saw it as something that indicated he was growing and becoming an adult. because we have to go through
negative experiences in order to mature. mary: as time went on you saw signs that were much more troubling, looking back on his growth as an adolescent. can you talk a little more about how you changed your views of some of that, from positive to seeing some of it now is things that should have concerned you? mrs. klebold: i mentioned earlier, one of the things that was probably an indicator that something had gone terribly wrong was in his junior year, when he had a spell of trouble. during that time he got in trouble at school for hacking into the school computer system, because he was one of the computer technicians at the school, for getting arrested for stealing something, and for scratching a locker. those were the three things that occurred. i was concerned, i wanted to know, should he see a counselor, what did this mean, and we had no other indicators that something was strongly amiss. so we took his word for it and he promised that he would do better, and he did. and that was the shocking thing, how hard he worked to get his
life on track and get into a good college. one of the other things that occurred at the very end of his life, this was within a few weeks of his death, when we went to a school conference because a teacher indicated his grades in his english class were slipping, and also his grades in his calculus class were slipping. at that time, the math teacher said he was sleeping in class. but it was a morning class and we knew how busy he was. he had also been accepted at the university of his choice. we thought this was senioritis, this behavior seniors get where, once they get accepted at college, they slack off. we thought that is what it was. and then the english teacher told us he had written a disturbing paper, and we asked, what does this mean, what should we do, is this something we should be concerned about?
and she said, i will ask the school counselor, and if he thinks there is a problem he will get back to you. i never saw the paper, it slipped my mind because i did not see it as a significant issue. after his death, i saw that it was a very dark, disturbing paper, but at that time columbine had never happened, and neither the parents nor the school counselor looked at the issue of a violent paper as something that was indicative of the possibility of some real deterioration in thinking. so those are some of the regrets that i have, and that is why i have come forth and said to people, if you have anything in your life that is a concern, never assume that it is just teenage angst. it could be something quite serious. mary: as an advocate for people with mental health concerns, we too tell people to get help
early, but we know there are lots of barriers to early intervention. can you talk a little bit about those barriers to getting mental health treatment, getting the care that you need? you talk about the counselor that didn't follow up with you. are there other barriers out there to people getting the right mental health care? mrs. klebold: i think there are all kinds of barriers, and they are planted within all the different systems we interact with. for example, the criminal justice system. dylan, simply from being arrested, was at a greater risk of suicide. the system was not aware of that, we were not aware of that, and that would have been a significant point of counseling, where someone could have said to
us, you take a kid like dylan and he gets in trouble and his life gets out of control, that is a dangerous time for that family and that child. we weren't aware of that. school systems, same thing. there are barriers there. very few schools have suicide-prevention programs and protocols, or threat-assessment teams, where they can put these pieces together and say, there was an arrest, there was a school discipline issue, let's get a closer look at this child. there are financial issues. counselors are not allowed to counsel very often, they are there to work on schedules and work on college entrance, they are not there to serve the psychological needs of the students, so that as a barrier. and to me, one of the greater barriers, especially working with youth, is the perception of counseling, and they don't want to go, they don't want to get help. i know more individuals than i can count that are struggling with family members who have issues with mental health, addiction, and the family member, through their own perception of what that service means, refuses to get help.
and i think that is one of our most challenging barriers. mary: you mentioned the criminal justice system and you talk in your book about the police officers and their assistance to you, and we know at nami the trauma that some of these police officers sometimes encounter when there is a tragedy. can you talk about any insights you have into that topic? mrs. klebold: my experience with law enforcement is an unusual one, so i can't draw any blanket conclusions. the day columbine happened, the tragedy happened, everybody was outside their comfort zone.
nobody new what was happening. at our home a swat team came, a bomb squad came, detectives came, and they were all from different districts. so there was an all-out bulletin for people across the state to come and help. so it was, from the police perspective, a nightmare for them. but we fast forward 17 years and i think what is happening now is, there is a greater recognition that anyone in law enforcement who is going to intervene in a situation, and this involves most of them, should be cit trained, they should have crisis intervention training. and very often, incidents that are lethal can be handled and brought down to a level of safety because of that training. so that is one thing i certainly recommend, and hope this will happen more. and i continue to hope that individuals and professions that have high stress rates and high suicide rates will begin to understand a little bit more how the mind functions when it is traumatized, and some of its limitations, and the need for better care, better self-care.
mary: absolutely. i think we have seen that at nami too, that some police involved need that self-care because of the trauma. can you talk about the trauma and how it is affected some people in the community? mrs. klebold: one of the peculiar things about this experience from my perspective was that we were isolated. our family, we were the pariahs. we were perceived to be by many, certainly if not perpetrators, collaborators. so we were very much cut off from the post-columbine gestalt of how the community responded. we were living in our own little world of isolation and fear, and sticking close to our family and
friends. so the magnitude of the trauma for the community is something i cannot even begin to comprehend or to explain. i only know that every time i walked into a room or a doctor's office, i didn't want anyone to know who i was, i was afraid of even being associated with the tragedy or with dylan. to some degree it exists today, still, and that is why it was so difficult to decide to publish this book. know who i was, i was afraid of
i continue to meet people who were in the school at the time, who were in the room, perhaps, where the teacher died, and the trauma that they have lives on. they are still experiencing ptsd from that day. some people sustained injuries. these injuries continue to limit their life, cause them great pain, cause them expense and hardship, it is too huge for even me to begin to comprehend. >> you have been watching a program marking the 20th anniversary of the mass shooting at columbine high school. on april 20, 1999, 12 students and one teacher were killed, with 20 others wounded. at the time it was the deadliest mass shooting at a high school. according to research conducted by "the washington post," at least 143 children, educators and others have lost their lives during the 20 years since columbine. >> if you missed any part of our program on the columbine high school shooting, you can watch it tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. eastern here on c-span. it is also available online. visit c-span.org and enter columbine in the video search.
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