Untitled Document EVER SINCE DYLAN KLEBOLD AND ERIC HARRIS OPENED FIRE at their high school in Littleton, Colorado two weeks ago, the media--indeed, the entire adult world--has watched the unfolding story with horror, all the while decrying the puncture of a fairy tale that apparently exists only for them. Childhood is a time of innocence, they wail in a million different ways (a story in People last week actually started out, "Once upon a time...").

Kids, on the other hand--those who actually go to high school--have been much less shocked. One student we talked with explained that shooting at fellow students is a somewhat natural outgrowth of the kind of stress and violence she experiences on a regular basis. She's thought often, even wistfully, of blowing up the entire school (she'd wait until it was empty, she says). Curious to see if other local high-schoolers were feeling the same way, we interviewed a number of students from all over the state. Were they surprised by the Colorado shooting? And if not, why not?

Ryan Dunn
Age 18
O'Dea High School, Seattle

I wasn't. I kind of agreed, though it's not the action I would have taken. I know those people [Harris and Klebold]. I've been close to being those people. It started out as a joke, and got out of hand.

In Issaquah they started banning goth clothing and trench coats. They don't ban Abercrombie & Fitch or the Gap because football players rape girls. Probably more girls get raped every year than people get shot in schools. People treat each other like crap.

Patrick Schisler
Age 18
Walla Walla High School

No. It's been happening for a while. Teachers talked about it the next day. They wanted us to do this drill to practice for an emergency like that. We were supposed to close the shades, lock the doors, and stand against a brick wall.

I used to pick on the gay guys a lot. But I stopped that.

Liz X
Age 19
University District Youth Center, Seattle

No, because nothing like that would surprise me anymore, unless it was a teacher who went and killed a bunch of kids. I remember high school. I remember wanting to get a gun and kill those people, but I never did.

When you live in a small town, everyone knows everything about you. If you pee your pants in third grade, those kids in high school still remember it. There isn't any way to get away from it. And that's exactly how it is. Instead of killing anybody, I started doing drugs to get away from that. Small towns are not a very healthy environment for teens to grow up in.

At a school I went to, a kid got his windshield shot out, and they didn't do anything to the kid who did the shooting because his dad was chairman of the school board. He got away with everything. He got away with holding someone down and peeing on him in the locker room. I bet the kids that did the shooting saw some of that stuff too. Actually, I would have liked to have known them. Because I could really relate to them.

[If I could have talked with Harris and Klebold], I would have told them to stick it out. If you can't stick it out, just leave. It's not worth losing your life over a bunch of people. They aren't worth it. If you kill them, you've killed them, but then you are dead too. You are either dead dead or dead in prison for the rest of your life. When you leave that town, you can get out and you never have to go back.

John Doe
Age 19
University District Youth Center, Seattle

No. Not at all. I think it was really cool, because those guys didn't care about anybody else. They just shot up the place.

Kevin Haggerman
Age 18
Edmonds High School

Definitely. I was very surprised. I'd never have dreamed anything like that would happen. It is amazing that a couple of kids could go through with something like that.

[After the shooting], there were cops surrounding our entire school because a teacher saw one of the students wearing a trench coat. I know the kid--he's shy and real quiet, but totally harmless. He was carrying some roller blades, but the teacher thought he was carrying a gun. They locked the kids in the cafeteria and wouldn't let them leave. We just got back from our lunch, and the cops told us that school was out for the rest of the day.

I think a lot of responsibility lies with parents. Definitely parents. The [shooting] was planned for a whole year, building bombs and everything--I mean, how do you hide something like that? They must have had no communication with their parents. You couldn't keep something like that from your family for so long, unless they really weren't paying attention.

I know a lot of people that have considered killing themselves, but I don't know anyone [who] would want to go out and kill a bunch of other people instead.

Steve Heller
Age 16
Garfield High School, Seattle

I was surprised. I figured that would be something that would happen more in the inner city or in an Appalachia-type place. Especially that it was Denver surprised me. It's like Seattle there; it's pretty wealthy. But the kids' motives made sense. They were teased all the time, and I can understand how someone in that position would snap. I don't think it takes much to make some kid feel guilty, humiliated, and angry. Then someone like that can go into a weird downward spiral at school. They go into the school as introverts, and they get more negative attention from the kids who don't feel they fit in.

The ability to fall through the cracks [is also a problem]. I mean, it's a lot harder in socialist countries, say somewhere like Sweden, for someone to fall by the wayside emotionally and socially, without somebody nearby noticing and offering help. Here, people are really isolated. But I would not say it's music or TV. That's what the media says, and it's a big lie.

Joel Dayley
Age 22
University District Youth Center, Seattle

I wasn't, for the simple fact that most of these kids out here are raised to hate. Everybody wants to be a wheeler-dealer and a killer. They want to be the killer, so they have to have one gun here and one gun there. Everybody thinks it's cool--it's the "in" thing to be the guy that beats everybody up, the guy that shoots people, robs and steals. So I'm not surprised. I'm not surprised at all.

Andreas Dombrowski
Age 19
University District Youth Center, Seattle

No. It's a type of rebellion--not a rebellion against parents anymore, but against society as a whole.

We are in a time of turmoil. And until society changes itself, I mean literally pulls a 180, we aren't going to be able to do anything about it. Unless something is done about the media--the media has blown this thing way the fuck out of proportion. It's like the Springfield thing. I knew some people that were shot in that. That happened last year! I can get a .45 and slide in a magazine and shoot the place up and I can make the news! I might spend the rest of my life in jail, but I made the fucking news!!

Watch for it. Counselors, do your fucking jobs. Be a friend, don't be a scary counselor person. No one likes to talk to a scary counselor person. Be a friend--it's like, "Hey, how's it going?" Especially in small towns. The thing is, you can do this. There can be a sense of community, and there isn't.

Someone tried to slit my throat once, so I can relate [to the victims] in Littleton. It happened in July of last year. It made me a bit more twisted. I now have this strange fascination with my own blood. I'm warped. But that for me is more about letting myself know that I still bleed. With blood, you see it coming out of your arm--it's proof that you are still fucking there.

Julie Schisler Age 16
Walla Walla High School

I was surprised. It doesn't happen very often. We haven't talked about it in classes. I'm not taking social studies, so I don't have the opportunity. I talk about it with my friends. They passed out ribbons today so that we'd take a minute to think of Littleton.

I didn't take a minute. I feel kind of bad about that.

Kyle Hurley
Age 16
South Bend High School

Yes, I was. If I wanted to buy a pistol right now, I could get one. Most people around here, including kids, buy rifles from their friends. It's really easy. Most of us are trained to shoot a gun because of all the hunting around here. I own five guns. Our parents teach us how to use guns and see them as tools, not as weapons. We respect the rules.

I also think music was influential [in the shooting]. That's why everyone should listen to country music.

John Doe 2
Age 18
University District Youth Center, Seattle

No, because it was a wake-up call for society. It's a big wake-up call to let them know that everybody is living in a fantasy world. Everything isn't peachy like they think it is. [The shooting] is bad. We are supposed to be the future.

Everyone has a self-destructive mode. Even my little, tiny brothers who are smaller than me talk about stuff like that. They are 13 and 14. They talk about bombing their school, saying, "I want to bomb our school! Our school sucks." I remember being a kid and saying, "I'm going to kill you." You never do, but you think, I don't like this guy, he should be dead. You've got to know where to draw the line and not act on it. I've crossed that line a few times.

Scotty Goodman
Age 15
Issaquah High School

At first I guess I was, but not as much as I would have been if it hadn't happened last year in Springfield. I was sad, but I guess I knew it was a possibility. I know kids who have [guns], but I'm not friends with them. I don't think I've ever been mad [enough to shoot someone]. Maybe I've been mad enough where I felt like I wanted to hit someone, but not shoot them.

There has been a lot of stuff coming from the principal [since the shooting] about recognizing respect as a virtue, and that everyone should be treated fairly and respectfully, no matter who they are. Kids are talking about it, but not really that much. They aren't saying much. The kids that end up killing are the ones you least expect. There might be kids like that in my school, kids that could do that.

Jonas Siegel
Age 16
Franklin High School, Seattle

I wasn't surprised that a gun got into the school and that it was fired. But I was surprised that 13 people were killed. At first I didn't want to comprehend it. I was shocked.

Most people would think inner-city schools must be where this sort of thing is going to happen, because there are more guns, more gangs, whatever. But we don't hate each other, because we are [racially] mixed at my school and we have to get used to difference. If you are exposed to that sort of stuff, you are likely to be more tolerant. I heard there were 10 minorities in the whole school [in Littleton], and it had something amazing, like over 2,000 students.

What happened in Littleton is going to happen again. That's what's scary. But I really doubt it's going to happen in an inner-city school. They want to put police officers in the high schools, but that is not going to help. Their presence is just a distraction. And anyway, what can a couple of cops do when kids come in with automatic weapons and bombs?

Jawaid Khwazak
Age 16
Nathan Hale High School, Seattle

I was pretty surprised that they would go in like that. Shootings in high schools are a common thing now. Two people took down 13. Their intention was to kill everyone. That's kind of scary. It made me a little paranoid. A lot of my friends are goths. They wear trench coats. Just because they dress like that--it's like saying all black people are bad and all Muslims are terrorists.

They should make the age of getting guns 21 or 25, and if you've been convicted you can't buy a weapon. They should allow security guards to carry assault rifles--at our school they don't carry guns. Cops should come visit the school every day.

John Doe 3
Age 16
Options Alternative High School, Bellingham

I don't watch TV, so what I know about the shooting I learned from my mother. I guess I wasn't totally surprised to hear about it. I was surprised more the first time--the Moses Lake shooting.

Before I was in Options, I was in Homeport, a school for juvenile delinquents. I couldn't imagine any of those kids doing a shooting. The last time I was in [public] school, in Sandpoint [Idaho], was junior high. I was only in for a couple of months. At that point, I didn't care about any kids that I didn't know. I only cared about my group. I was smoking a lot of pot back then. My world revolved around that.

The only violence I ever heard of in Sandpoint involved my girlfriend and her friend. Her friend, who's 17, had a kid with a guy who's almost 40. One night the guy held a shotgun to my girlfriend's head and his girlfriend's head. Other than that I don't know of any violence.

Kelly Olsen
Age 17
South Bend High School

I wasn't. I think parental influence comes too late, if at all, in kids' lives these days. We're a lot more impersonal right now. I can envision these kids with soccer moms, tract housing, being raised by television. Kids grow up in front of the TV, and everyone is so hate-oriented. They want a bigger shock value. It's either more graphic sex or violence. We become desensitized. My little sister said to my mom, when she wanted to watch an R-rated movie, "It's not rated R because of sex, Mom--it's only violence." It's sad.

John Doe 4
Age 17
Black River High School, Renton

It wasn't a surprise. It's gonna happen somewhere, sometime, in some random place. I mean, things are tense on all sides. They kicked me out of [one school] because they thought I threatened a teacher, but I didn't--[teachers and administrators] are paranoid now. One little mistake and you're sent to an alternative school. They think every student is a potential killer. I don't know why [the shooters] did it, but they must've had a reason, like maybe a teacher or other students--or they were crazy.

From what I've seen, our parents got taught by their parents to control their feelings. But now, our parents are sitting us in front of the TV and that's that. TV as a parent itself. I'm not against TV--I get a lot of ideas from it--but it's not a substitute parent.

John Doe 5
Age 15
Nathan Hale High School, Seattle

I was kinda surprised. I couldn't believe someone would do that. But on the other hand I wasn't surprised, because look at the way the world is today. The papers are saying there's a connection between these killings and gothics. But they're just searching for some meaning to it all, and that's not right. It's not right to blame it on one group of people. Dude, you see gothic people walking all around here, and they're all smiling and friendly! It's stupid of the media to lay that blame.

I think you can kind of blame parents, but not all the way. I grew up in an unhealthy situation, and I went to counseling, and they said what a hard home life I had and how that affected me. But I didn't go out and kill anyone! I chose to get counseling.

Sarah Garner
Age 16
Maple Valley High School

No, because look at all the things that have happened in the past few years, starting with the Oklahoma City bombings. Terrorism has spun outta control.

Most kids who are really angry don't come from broken homes. They come from nice homes. I mean, middle-class homes with both parents. There's all kinds of bad families and turmoil, and no one group of society is safe from that.

Thomas Penoyer
Age 17
South Bend High School

I wasn't surprised. I would blame [the shooting] on nothing else but the other kids. Peer pressure is amazing. Friends can make you hate them by doing the simplest things.

Something like that probably wouldn't happen here. The school is too small to have cliques. My graduating class has 26 kids in it. There isn't anything like the Trenchcoat Mafia, because the school is too small. I mean, there are kids that hang out together, and there are weirdoes, but the weirdoes don't hang out together, because they see the other weirdoes as weirdoes. They're loners.

Nicole Swanson
Age 17
Garfield High School, Seattle

I wasn't surprised, because it keeps happening, and each person who does a new attack tries to make it a bigger and bigger happening, and it's going to continue until we can do something about it.

I think there have to be a lot of contributing factors. It could have been depression combined with watching violent movies. In that case, your feeling of depression grows and grows, especially if you have support from people who feel the same way. Hitler didn't just become who he was overnight.

People who become who they are--sometimes it's not even fair to them. They grow up believing all kinds of things, like that some races are superior to others, and it's not fair that society lets them believe that. They can't help it, really. But those kids were backed up by one another in their weird beliefs. So the potential for violence builds up in little steps, not all at once.

The other thing is, people in this culture don't understand the finality of death. The Colorado students didn't value life, and didn't understand how final it was. If they had, they wouldn't have done what they did.

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