January 2002
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Cliques and Teens
By Christina MacLeish, Hazel Mccallion Senior Public School , Mississauga, ON

Many adults would be shocked to see how many teenagers (especially girls) act so critically and negatively towards their peers. I have seen it so many times when "the popular group" in school, would pick on some girl/girls, with the intention of making the girl feel worse about herself. They will find the littlest imperfection about this girl and tease her about it constantly.

The girls that do this are insecure about themselves. By finding flaws with happy and secure girls, the teasing and ridicule somehow makes them feel better. The girls, who are usually the ones being picked on, are the girls who are not necessarily a part of their "group." "The popular clique" feels that the innocent girls are not good enough for them and therefore it is easier to bring them down than to aspire to be like them.

Those girls, who usually face the ridicule, do not enjoy coming to school, knowing that there are going to be girls waiting for them to bully or to make fun of them. Many are afraid to simply walk down the halls or to go out for recess because they know the reception that is waiting for them. This is every teenager's nightmare and it is a situation that needs to be addressed in schools. Sadly, this problem within school goes unnoticed because many of the girls being teased or bullied never come forward to share their feelings. Unfortunately, by not asking for help, they try to solve these complications by attempting to give them a little taste of their own medicine to see how it feels. Therefore, the cycle continues, "Two wrongs don't make it right."

I truly believe that these popular girls have fun tormenting the formative years of some people's lives. It's funny, but research shows that the girls who are "bullying", are going to grow up with no respect for others. Once they leave junior high and high school, statistics show that many won't be able to find one single friend because they haven't followed the simple rule of friendship. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "the only way to have a friend is to be one." Once they leave their group of friends, who think the same way about treating people, they undoubtedly find out that they will not find true friends.

Those girls that don't let these girls get to them are truly strong people. Many choose to ignore them and continue to lead happy lives. Thanks to an inner strength, they will let anything roll off their back. But for most girls, it's just not so easy. Many take everything so personally and, if they are self conscious about their body, they often listen and take into consideration what these people are saying about them. If this happens, the verbal abuse may really affect them.

The scary part of this whole thing is that this happens with all teenagers. I have friends in my dance class who are up to five years older than myself and they too tell me stories that this sort of thing happens to some girls at their school as well. It is very frustrating when there are people like that surrounding teenagers in a school environment where we spend approximately 30 hours a week with them. School life is basically our second home. Having people that bully, demean or insult others cruelly around us, is not right. The problem is hard to fix by school personnel alone. The first line of preventing this behaviour lies with the individual and with their family. Common decency and respect for others costs nothing to give to another person, but it is the best gift you can possibly receive.

Originally published in McCallum Quest Student Newspaper, Hazel McCallum School, Ontario - http://www.peel.edu.on.ca/hazelm/quest/index.htm