Opinion The Tattoo

What’s worse: epidemic violence or apathy?

Investigators at Columbine High School. (Jefferson County Sheriff's Dept.)

BRISTOL, Connecticut, U.S.A. — Last Tuesday morning, I woke up, took a shower, got dressed, ate breakfast and headed off to school. After my classes ended, I returned home to change for work,
where I found my dad watching MSNBC. He told me that there had been another school shooting.

I said, “Oh.”

That’s all that went through my head: “Oh.”

Not “oh my God, those poor people.” Not where, how or why. Just “oh.”

I went to work and didn’t really think about it again. I heard a news brief on the radio but I didn’t pay much attention. It wasn’t until I got home and heard that as many as 25 people were dead and the events of the afternoon were displayed on my television that I realized what had happened.

Fifteen people are dead, many more are at hospitals, with parents praying that their child isn’t number 16.

The town of Littleton, Colo. is grief-stricken and in shock. Nearly 1,800 students can’t go to school tomorrow, not because of vacations, but so that investigators can try to figure out what happened in their little suburb.

And all I said was, “Oh.”

I sat glued to the news. I watched kids like me come running out of a building, scared and hurt, and I watched people gather in the streets, hoping to find their brother, sister, friend or teacher.

After I got the details and realized how bad everything is out there, I began to develop feelings about it. There are two things that bother me about it — first, obviously, kids are dead and the kids who aren’t dead and the people of this town are living a nightmare, but what also bothers me is that when I first heard what happened, it didn’t faze me. It did not even faze me.

I heard that kids had been murdered by other kids and I said, “Oh.”

There have been so many instances — Jonesboro, Paducah, Springfield — that when I found out about the latest one, I apathetically said, “Oh.”

I really don’t know what is worse, the epidemic of school violence that is spreading across the country or the way that it doesn’t even bother me to hear about it.

Kathleen Haynes is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.

See this entire issue of The Tattoo:

Kids who kill: school massacre raises fears (Chantelle Garzone, Amanda Lehmert, Collin Seguin, Jessica Majerus and Laura Lindstrom)

Lots of questions, no answers (Chantelle Garzone)
Slaying hits home (Natalie Minor)
You can see the whole published page here.