April 20th, 2009
09:48 AM ET

Debunking the myths of Columbine, 10 years later

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/04/20/columbine.myths/art.columbine.gi.jpg.jpg caption="Families visit the graves of the Columbine shooting victims at Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens in 2007."]

Stephanie Chen

What do you remember about April 20, 1999?

If you recall that two unpopular teenage boys from the Trench Coat Mafia sought revenge against the jocks by shooting up Columbine High School, you're wrong.

But you're not alone.

Ten years after the massacre in Littleton, Colorado, there's still a collective memory of two Goth-obsessed loners, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who went on a shooting rampage and killed 12 of their classmates and a teacher, injured 23 others and then turned their guns on themselves.

Journalist and author Dave Cullen was one of the first to take on what he calls the myths of Columbine. He kept at it for a decade, challenging what the media and law enforcement officials reported.

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soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Annie Kate

    Columbine, once known mainly as a herb with showy flowers, and now associated with school shootings and death. The shootings at Columbine seemed to open the floodgates for many more school shootings; and we are still where we were when it happened – unable to prevent them because we can't predict them or spot people who will do the shooting before it happens. Perhaps in all the new studies coming out on Columbine there might be a hint of something that will prove useful in preventing future tragedies like this. Schools need to be the safe havens they once were again.

    April 20, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  2. dina212

    You can be born with a chemical imbalance. The situations you encounter in life just amplify the distortion. It's so important for the parents to be involved as much as they can and for children to communicate with their parents about everything. It's also important for the school to do all they can to lessen bullying and to give students hope for the future. It's a shame that so many students can't view their life in the long term. As for this book, I hope they make a documentary, there's still so much we can learn from Columbine.

    April 20, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  3. Michael C. McHugh

    I was living in South Korea when this happened, but I remember it on TV. I also remembered that these things just didn't happen in Korea, or in China or Japan. I lived out in Asia for five years and I saw that the rate of violent crime of all kinds is just a lot lower. They don't have school shootings out there, and it's certainly not because school is a more pleasant experience than in America–far from it! Nor do they have all the street crimes, drug problem, and all that, although they do have mafias and organized crime. Every country does, but usually the mafias only kill or injure rival gangsters or people who've ripped them off in some way.

    Why is there such a big difference between countries and cultures on this issue?

    April 20, 2009 at 11:26 am |
  4. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Myth or facts?---12 classmates were killed--–23 injuried--and still today---it is all speculation as to why such a tragedy happen. It is always after the fact--and never before. Humans are complex beings-–more complex than we can imagine.

    April 20, 2009 at 10:45 am |
  5. Teresa, OH

    All the articles call Harris a pyshcopath... where does a psychopath come from? Is one born a psychopath or is one MADE a psychopath by society and circumstance.

    Even if you look at Eric and Dylan as cold blooded, heartless murderers, the fact that they were prepared to kill themselves shows they felt the had no hope for any kind of future. Why is that? Yes, its Eric and Dylans fault ultimately.... but who helped make them that way? Everyone that touched their lives.

    The whole country mourns this day. I can only imagine the hearts of Eric and Dylans parents today.

    ^5 to Mr. Cullen and his book.

    April 20, 2009 at 10:40 am |
  6. renee smith

    The counsler of Columbine at time of this tragedy came to speak at my daughter's high school. She was the first I heard that said the common newspaper reporting was wrong. I am glad attention is being given and truth is being shed.

    April 20, 2009 at 9:56 am |