Getting Teenagers Talking about Columbine

Getting Teenagers Talking about Columbine April 3, 2014

This week I’ve seen the word “Columbine” appearing in hundreds of articles. Why? Present tragedy reminds us of trials we’ve endured in the past.

It’s interesting to look back at events like Columbine and learn from them. I find that most young people today become acutely engaged whenever I mention Columbine or rampages like the one in PA this week. Current events like this can often cause a paradigm shift in the lives of teens. What a great opportunity for adults to help kids talk through this.

Here’s a discussion springboard from my brand new book, Get Your Teenager Talking, using the Columbine event to talk with young people about their relationship with their parents.

Conversation Springboard:
A videotape was discovered of the two Columbine killers—the two high school boys in Colorado who killed thirteen people on April 19, 1999. The two angry boys turned on the camera a month before their shooting spree and started bragging about their plans to kill everyone and how their parents didn’t have a clue.

Eric and Dylan tell the story of when Green Mountain Guns called their home and Eric’s dad answered. The clerk told him, “Your clips are in.” Eric’s father, who owned guns himself, told the clerk he hadn’t ordered any clips. Eric tells the camera his father never asked any questions, like whether the caller even had the right phone number. Eric said that if either the clerk or his father had asked just one question, the boys would have been caught.

Eric tells another story about going to the mountains with his “terrorist bag” and how the butt of a shotgun was sticking out of it. His mother saw the gun and just assumed it was a BB gun. Eric joked how they could fool anyone, because people like his parents “didn’t have a clue!”

One month and four days after making the video, the two boys killed thirteen people and wounded twenty-four, and then turned their guns on themselves in what was the most tragic school shooting of the century.

Do you think these parents should have noticed some of these clues? Explain.

Follow-Up Questions

  • What could have these parents done differently?
  • How much should parents be involved in the lives of their kids?
  • How much is too much?

Insight Into the Question

This situation prompts young people to think about how parents might be able to help, offering guidance and even accountability.

Quick Additions

  • What are some areas you wish we (your parents) would take more interest in your life?
  • What are some areas you wish we would give you more space?
  • How can young people earn their parents’ trust?
  • What are some ways you can show you are trustworthy?


“The perfect tool for connecting with today’s teenagers”
-Dr. Kevin Leman, author of Have a New Teenager by Friday

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