Local students affected by Columbine

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 19, 1999

By LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / May 19, 1999

Second in a seriesRESERVE – Firearms and explosives are too accessible.

Many parents are too uninterested.

Discipline, in many cases, is virtually non-existent.

That’s what five students at Riverside Academy said recently when they gathered around a table to discuss the fatal Columbine High School shooting incident and the issues that have been raised since.

Ranging in age from 14 to 17, the students, male and female, were unanimous on the most important subject – don’t let children be in charge.

“It all starts when they’re young,” Blake Luminais, 17, of Reserve, advised. “Put your foot down and don’t let them be in charge.”He added, “Kids need to have a job and get involved with other people.”The reaction around Riverside to the Columbine High shootings was mixed, according to the students.

“People around us are joking about it,” a distressed Katie Hymel, 17, of Garyville, commented. “It’s kind of hard to imagine people can do that.”She pointed out the movie “Basketball Diary” could have had a strong impact on the Columbine shootings. She said it was almost a blueprint forthe incident.

One news flash which seemed to distress many parents was the easy accessibility of firearms and explosives to juveniles.

The students said parents need to know those things are out there for the asking.

“You can always get somebody old enough to go the store and buy anything,” Luminais said.

“It’s like buying beer,” added Jill Giardina, 15, of LaPlace. “Give somebodythe money, they’ll do it.”As for explosives, Hymel said bomb manufacturing instructions are found easily on the Internet. “It needs to be taken off,” she added.Many parents grant their children the “right to privacy” and don’t know what is in their children’s room or in their computer. The studentsinterviewed at Riverside advise against this.

“You need your privacy. If my mom was going through my stuff I’d be mad.But it is her right,” said Amber Waguespack, 14, of Reserve.

Giardina added, “If it gets down to going through your stuff, there’s something wrong.”Joe Trosclair, 17, of Reserve, said parents should sit down and talk to their children on a regular basis. “They should know how they are,” hesaid.

The notion that a repeat of the Columbine incident could happen here is not far-fetched, the students agreed.

“They think because it’s a private school, that it can’t happen here,” Waguespack cautioned.

“Some don’t believe their kids,” Giardina said.

“And others don’t care,” chimed in Hymel.

Uniforms received universal support among this sampling of Riverside students. Trosclair said students do get teased for their clothing, andGiardina added, “It does still hurt your feelings.”Also, videogame violence has gone beyond good taste or acceptability, the students agreed.

“If they think blowing up bad guys is cool, there’s something wrong,” Hymel said.

“They don’t need all that gore,” Giardina added. “But there’s a differencebetween killing cartoons and killing people.”What it comes down to, the students said, is parents need to take more responsibility for raising their children.

“Parents let kids get away with anything,” Luminais said. “Don’t givethem everything they want.”Trosclair advised, “Some parents are scared of what their kids would do to them, but they should discipline their kids. Parents have aresponsibility – all the blame doesn’t go on the kids.”Giardina said parents should take their children places and do whatever it takes to keep their relationship close.

She said she knows how things can get for kids sometimes, but that isn’t an excuse for violent behavior.

“Sometimes it’s hard to keep it balled up inside,” she said. “I get stressedout by school sometimes and I scream into my pillow.

She said parents should knock the wall down if it has formed between them and their children.

“You’ve got to set limits and talk to your kids,” she said. “My dad stillwill come in at bed time and tuck me in and talk with me.”

Return To News Stories