Columbine survivors raise children in world shaped by attack

DENVER (AP) — Dropping her youngsters off at college was the toughest a part of Kacey Ruegsegger Johnson’s day. She would cry most mornings as they left the automotive, and relied on texted pictures from their academics to make it by way of the day.

Now, the mom of 4 — and Columbine capturing survivor — sees mornings as a chance. She wakes early, makes breakfast and strives to send a clear message earlier than her youngsters depart residence: I am keen on you.

Twenty years after teenage gunmen attacked Columbine High Faculty, Ruegsegger Johnson and other alumni of the Littleton, Colorado, faculty have turn into mother and father. The emotional toll of the capturing that killed 12 classmates and a instructor has been amplified by fears about their very own kids’ safety , spiking every time yet one more shooter enters yet one more faculty.

“I’m grateful I have the prospect to be a mother. I know a few of my classmates weren’t given that chance,” Ruegsegger Johnson stated, tears springing to her eyes. “There are elements of the world I want our youngsters never needed to find out about. I want that there would never be a day I had to inform them the issues I’ve been by means of.”

Because the survivors of Columbine entered maturity, they watched the assaults at their faculty and so many others — Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Parkland — alter the American classroom.

Drills educating college students to “lock down” inside lecture rooms turned routine. Faculties shaped groups to evaluate threats, notably from college students. Safety companies cast a multibillion-dollar business, introducing surveillance video, panic buttons and upgraded doorways and locks. And police changed their strategies for responding to a gunman intent solely on killing.

A number of the Columbine survivors find comfort in college students being shielded by excessive fences or locked doorways. Others find themselves annoyed by the ready acceptance of lively-shooter drills in faculties.

Now, many of those students-turned-mother and father grapple with crippling worry dwarfing delight as their youngsters walk into their very own faculties.

Ruegsegger Johnson has developed her own ritual for the varsity drop-off. On a current sunny spring morning, she helped her youngsters discover their guide luggage and tie their footwear before ushering them to the automotive. She prayed aloud as they neared the varsity, giving thanks for a wonderful morning and asking for a day of studying and friendship.

As all the time, she made a silent addition: Maintain them protected.


The prospect of Amy Over’s thirteen-yr-previous daughter beginning high school might have triggered a panic attack within the not-too-distant previous. However now she’s targeted on serving to the woman prepare for the sudden.

She coaches her daughter when she ventures to locations outdoors her mother’s control: Where is the closest exit? What road are you on? Who’s round you?

“I by no means want my youngsters to really feel an oz of pain, the best way that I felt pain,” Over stated. “I know that that’s something that I can not control. And I feel that is arduous on me.”

Over was within the Columbine cafeteria when the gunmen approached the varsity, concentrating on college students…

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