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Columbine principal shares important message at Decatur child safety conference

DECATUR, Ala. -- Next month marks 18 years since a shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado. Two students murdered their classmates and a teacher. Many more were hurt. Now an educator who was there that day uses the tragedy to raise awareness in an effort to protect our children.

"There's nothing I can do to bring back the thirteen that lost their lives and all that were injured. But I made a promise that night that I would never allow them to be forgotten," said Frank DeAngelis.

DeAngelis knows first hand the horror, when students' safety is put at risk.

The principal of Columbine High School at the time of the shooting, and for 15 years after, he's made it his mission to educate others about protecting children in schools. He urges educators not to take warning signs lightly.

"You look at kids saying well, I know they're acting a little peculiar, but these kids cannot do that.  You want to believe in kids, but at times that can be detrimental because you overlook some things," he explained.

He said training teachers to notice those signs can make all the difference.

"It's important to be able to teach math, and science, and reading. But at the same time looking at some of the social, emotional needs of kids," he said.

DeAngelis said it's about being proactive, not reactive. That's what is going to protect your children.

"Prior to Columbine, it was mainly fire drills. Now after Columbine you have lock downs, lock outs, evacuation drills. I think just making people aware," he said.

Those drills are starting earlier than ever now, but it's for good reason. DeAngelis also urges all school districts to have threat assessment programs in place. He praises North Alabama's use of school resource officers.