Reflections On The Columbine High School Massacre
Kenneth L. Kuczynski, President
Power of One Foundation, Inc.
The tragedy and horror of the massacre at the Columbine
High School in Littleton, Colorado is yet another example of teenage
aggression taken to the extreme. The events that led to the shootings
and bombings may never be fully explained, yet one fact remains certain.
At least fifteen students and one teacher are dead, as are the two
teenage boys who committed these murders.
While grieving parents and loved ones wait for the police to remove
the bodies of the victims, the question "Why?" is on the
hearts and minds of the residents of Littleton as well as the nation.
Everyone is searching for answers and solutions to the problem of
school violence. What these two troubled teenagers did was send yet
another wakeup call to all of us. School administrators, teachers,
parents and especially students all need to take a hard look at this
terrible tragedy and start investigating the underlying causes.
Interviews last evening and this morning of classmates who knew the
two boys painted a profile that has now become a textbook description.
The boys were loaners and didn't fit in. They were members of a subculture
that had disdain for student athletes, people of color, and authority.
Their need for recognition and power led to a fascination with Satanism,
Nazism, Adolph Hitler and death.
To an outside observer like myself, the signs for concern were there.
References to the "Trench Coat Mafia;" a video class assignment
where they displayed and bragged about their guns; clothing that sent
a message more of uniform than style; and a behavior toward fellow
classmates that was both aggressive as well as confrontational. Later
today we learned that several students expressed concern about the
boys and their clique, yet the authorities dismissed these reports.
Teenage aggressive behavior exists and is a real problem. School policies
have tried to address it under the umbrella term of "harassment."
Yet, if it is not sexual, racial or religious in nature, it falls
into this gray area that seems to get over looked and conveniently
let's school authorities off the hook.
Ask a teenager if they have ever harassed someone and they most likely
would say no. Yet, if you were to ask if they ever gossiped, teased
someone, picked-on a classmate, bullied or excluded someone from their
group for whatever reason and the answer would be yes. In fact, many
see this behavior as harmless and a right of passage or tradition.
When will school administrators, teachers, parents and students remove
the blinders of passive acceptance and admit that this is a real problem
and it exists. The solution is not metal detectors, armed guards and
stronger gun control legislation. What we need is a return to basic
human values and curriculums or programs that teach respect for others
and the building of healthy relationships.
The Power of One Foundation, Inc. was founded to empower young people
to respect one another. It provides them with the tools they need
to change negative group dynamics. It also gives them the support
they need to involve someone who is in a position to make a difference,
such as a teacher, school social worker or counselor.
The foundation educates teachers, students and others on how to recognize
teens at risk. It works with them to establish a plan of intervention
as early as possible to correct and aid in the healing of these endangered
We know in some cases this may be too little too late. But we must
attack the problem of teenage aggressive behavior at all levels. This
may appear to be an overwhelming task. However, the Power of One Foundation,
Inc. is dedicated to meet these needs and to help our schools, but
most especially to save our children.