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A wake up call
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Sometimes it is hard for adults to understand how difficult it is to be a teenager. I think part of the problem is the tendency for all people to view the past through rose-colored glasses. Just ask anyone over the age of 35 about their high school days, and you will probably hear a list of why schools were better back then. “Back in the day” — whichever decade a person went to school — always had better football and basketball teams, less drugs and violence and students all got As.
Now, this attitude only applies to those who were students from 1950 through 1995. If you ask someone who went to school before 1950, they will start talking about how hard it was back then having to walk to school in knee-deep snow — both ways!
It amazes me how much snow the Central Valley had before 1950.
It has been my experience that students who graduated after 1995 still retain a truer memory of their high school days and will avoid talking about it as much as possible. Possibly due to wedgie flashbacks.
If you can get a teenager to open up and talk about what really happens in an average day of school, you might be surprised. From the moment a teenager wakes up they are bombarded with peer pressure. What are they going to wear to school? How will they be arriving to campus? What friends and enemies and frenemies will they run into on their way to class? These are just a few of the pressures every teenager has to deal with. If a teen has relationship or bully problems, then their school days can be pure torture.
If you think about it, high schools can be more like prisons or mental institutions than places of learning. Students have no more control over who they have to interact with on a daily basis than do prisoners or mental patients.
The tragic case of a 15-year-old Massachusetts student committing suicide after being bullied incessantly by school mates, both in person and online, should be no surprise. Bullying, through name-calling and other forms of ostracization are common occurrences at every high school in America. I can guarantee that Phoebe Prince will not be the only student at that school who has wished to die rather than face another day of bullying.
According to a report from The Boston Channel, Prince was bullied for three months, subjected to verbal harassment and physical abuse. A faculty member of the high school was reported as saying that the bullying of Prince was “common knowledge” at the school. The faculty member did not report the abuse until after Prince’s death. Nine students were charged in connection with the suicide. Nine!
This should be a wake up call for parents, educators and community leaders. The Turlock Unified School District has a slew of anti-bullying programs already in place. But I urge my fellow adults to take the seemingly inconsequential problems of teenagers seriously. What may seem like ordinary teenage anguish to adults can easily turn into a life or death situation.
To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.