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Thursday, April 08, 2004

Sad incident in Seattle

A kid threatened but didn't succeed in killing himself in school. Thanks to blogging, of course, it's easier to get an idea of what some kids at least are saying about this incident. It's the same old story, though. It seems like everyone knows he was a misfit and everyone knows he was teased, but no one seems to have actually done the teasing. (Teasing is such an inadequate word for the harassment that kids have to live through in high school.) I'm pretty sure the reason is that fellow students articulate and sensitive enough to express their feelings about this were not the ones participating in the bullying, but that certainly doesn't mean it wasn't going on. What's sad is that this problem is never going to correct itself. High school kids are adept at hiding their lives from the adults around them. The ones who deal out the majority of the abuse are often the same damn kids that get the majority of the adulation from the community at large. The misfits are not respected by adults or kids, no matter what the adults pretend otherwise.
I remember the scene in Bowling for Columbine where Matt Stone says that if kids could just know that there is life after high school and it does get better and who they are in high school will not condemn them for life, there wouldn't be these sort of incidents. I think he has a point, but I don't think that's going to change either. For some reason, people want high school kids to think that high school is the highlight of life--I think the idea is that way, the kids will focus like laserbeams on their schoolwork. Well, that's not what happens. What happens is that kids think that every little setback or slight is the end of the world. They are set against each other in a cut-throat competition and there's no room for anything but the worst kind of conformity.
I occassionally run into people I went to high school with and there's almost always been a tone of melancholy to the conversation, like we're both thinking, "Wow. I can't believe I used to worry what you thought about me."


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