Remembering Columbine… The Day That Changed Everything

20 years ago Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shattered the perception of safety and security we’d always assumed was part of our school campuses.

A few times over the years, audience members that have seen me speak have asked me not to mention Dylan or Eric’s name, suggesting that it gives them power in this tragic situation. I don’t necessarily disagree with that criticism, but I choose to use their names because they were real people. Like many other troubled students, they had entire lives, families, friends, and hobbies.

It’s important to me that we don’t lose sight of that disturbing truth. 

The reason we created TEEN TRUTH was to discuss the reality of the situations that our students face, no matter how troubling they might be. If facing uncomfortable truths can prevent the horrors of a shooting spree, then we need to confront our discomfort and push through toward solutions to those problems.

As young filmmakers, we realized the only way to accomplish this was to give students a voice. While other programs chose to focus on teaching kindness, we wanted to create a program that spoke directly to students going through anger, depression, loneliness, and other emotional issues.

During my 13+ years on the road, I have never really felt like a school assembly around kindness would have really changed the minds of Eric or Dylan, but what about a message around feeling frustrated and angry? What about a message about the pain and hurt that so many of us carry?  What about a message that encouraged students like Eric and Dylan to find their voice, seek out help, and tell their truth?

For the last 20 years our team at TEEN TRUTH has been fighting this battle. Maybe it was because we grew up on the Goonies and the Outsiders, so we understand the way the outcast thinks. Maybe it was because we were just young filmmakers that were crazy enough to think we could change the world.

Either way, it landed us where we are today. With over 9 million students reached, 7,000+ schools impacted, and a program that still strikes at the core of what I believe Eric and Dylan needed to hear.

I am honored to have you in this battle with us. The fight for school culture and mental health will never end, but thankfully warriors like us will never give up.

TEEN TRUTH’s school counselor, Penny Knight, wrote a fabulous blog on how to make our schools safer. CLICK HERE to read it and, CLICK HERE to download a FREE guidance lesson she wrote just for you.

JC Pohl, LMFT
President & CEO, TEEN TRUTH

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