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11 years ago I was only a year old and totally oblivious to the violence that went on at a school in Denver, Colorado. Yet, I ask myself has anything changed? Have we learned anything or has seeing the countless number of innocent teens being killed at the hand of other youth numbed us?

School violence is a big problem our communities are facing now.  Every morning when I go to school, I stop and pray that my friends and I are kept from harm. But that is becoming increasingly impossible with pedophiles, gangs and just random school shootings happening everyday. Do teens feel safe in schools today? Not really.  I was told by my grandfather that schools used to be a place of safety. Where students were encouraged to dream. But like everything else, most schools have become more of a ritual, more of a habit. If you ask most kids why do they go to school, they will reply: Because I am suppose to. NO, you are suppose to brush your teeth.

THIS IS HOW COLUMBINE HAPPENED: Schools became a ritual instead of a privilege. You see,  if teens and adults alike reflected back, they will remember our history. I know you all have someone in your family that told you how they walked five miles to school and had one pair of shoes. School use to be a place my granddad told me that you could go early before school opened and did not have to worry about being touched by the janitor or gym teacher. School used to be a place that kids could stay late and get extra help if you did not understand what the teacher taught during class. Columbine happened because we have forgotten our history. Now, I am going to make some teachers mad but I always speak the truth that God has placed on my heart.

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Columbine happened because the teachers and staff administrators failed the youth of Columbine. One student, while smart, was still showing signs of depression. The other was showing signs of suicidal thoughts. I wonder how adults could report these kids had issues and then do nothing. What happened to the teacher that made home visits and where were the local officials that were supposed to keep kids safe? School should not be a ritual but a privilege, one so many died for so we could have. Every parent wish their kids would go to school and get a good education. But look at today’s society. Parents are forced to warn their children by saying  ‘don’t go to school early, because there might be people waiting to hurt you’.

Fear of school-related violence keeps five percent of high school students home at least once in the month. School violence stops students from learning because they are afraid. School violence is a result of family problems, such as parents getting divorced or parents not always being at home. The media also played its part in the tragedy of Columbine with violent movies, TV shows, the evening news, and racism. They all are threatening the safety and security of schools. So, because I know so many students that stay home because of the fear of violence or being stabbed, shot, or beaten, I say to everyone, ‘If we don’t want another Columbine then remember school is not a ritual but a privilege’. 

-MaryPat Hector

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<img src='http://www.columbia.edu/cu/pr/00/04/