My son and I stared in horror at the television as events played out at Columbine High School in Colorado. It was April 1999, and as Peter and I watched a bloodied teenage boy dangling from a broken window, clinging to life, we had no idea that 12 of his peers and one teacher lay dead inside the building, while many others were severely wounded and traumatized. All of them, and probably most of their small community, were changed for life as a result of that day. — Opening paragraph from Superheroes Wear Mom Jeans: The Tangled Ball ®️Guide to Anti-Bullying for Parents of Young Children
The boy in the window was Patrick Ireland. He is now 37, is married and has 3 children. I want to reach out to Patrick to say that I open every bullying prevention/leadership presentation with his story. And it doesn’t matter how many times I give it, I start to cry.
Today is the 20thAnniversary of that horrible tragedy. The entire community continues to deserve our tears, as do all the families and communities that have experienced the same type of unimaginable horror.
At the time, Peter and all the teens I asked believed that bullying was at the core. We now understand that deep and disturbing mental illness was at play. But the fact that kids assumedit was bullying was a reason to stop, pay attention and learn more. Metal detectors at school entrances and safety drills may be necessary but getting to the core of children’s sense of isolation and their feelings of disconnect are critical.
We all have a positive role to play. Each child needs a trusted go-to adult in their lives. In honor of Patrick and his entire community, let’s support funding effective mental health initiativesand promoting positive school climates where emotional safety is as important as practicing lock downs.