Craig Scott was just 16 years old when he endured the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School, in which two teens took the lives of 12 students and one teacher. Scott's sister Rachel was the first student killed. Now 29 and an advocate of violence prevention, Scott offered advice on healing to the parents suffering through the Sandy Hook tragedy, which took the lives of 20 elementary school kids and six teachers in Newtown, Conn., on Friday.
“I struggled with a lot of anger with the two shooters at Columbine," he told TODAY's Lester Holt on Sunday. "I know there are parents that are so angry and are going to struggle with that anger over the next couple years...it’s important what they choose to do with that and where they choose to place the focus.”
Scott's own parents struggled after Columbine. He said his father was devastated that he wasn't there to protect his daughter from the gunshots. His mother also grappled with Rachel's death, and Scott said that for about two years his mother "was in a constant state of sadness."
He passed on advice to family members of Sandy Hook victims, saying they should remember that there was no way they could have been there to protect their kids.
"Hopefully they don’t hold any kind of guilt towards themselves for not having been there," he said. "There’s no possible way they could’ve known it was going to happen or see what was going to come.”
He pointed to Columbine survivors as a source of hope for the Connecticut shooting survivors.
“I know that there is a lot of strengths that my peers have because of going through a hard situation,” he said.
Scott said that the tragedy is "now a part of who [the survivors] are." And while he acknowledged that it will take a long time for them to heal, he predicted that the kids will move on from the tragedy.
"There will be some great things that you’ll see from these little kids, whether it be just a sense of sensitivity to other people, a creativeness that wouldn’t be there otherwise."