When they were bad

By Carolyn Magner

By Salon Staff

Published October 13, 2000 7:56PM (EDT)

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I am a 16-year-old high school senior, and this article really touched me. In middle school, I was exiled -- so unpopular that the "outcasts" didn't want to be seen with me. One time I came in from gym class to find that someone broke into my locker and put all of my clothes into a toilet. I had to borrow some from the gym teachers. All of the girls would snicker as I walked by.

In January of my eighth-grade year, I was so depressed that I tried to commit suicide. My parents put me into a mental health facility for a week so I could be watched and they could help me find a medication for my depression. I ended up going to a different school at the end of that year, where I was quickly accepted. I'm now very happy, but I can clearly remember the pain that I had.

Young teens have the ability to be so extremely cruel. I don't know the situation from the parents' point of view, but as a child, it was horrible. This article really touches on how this age group can be, and I commend it for that. I am glad to know that I'm not the only one who went through this.

-- Kristi Bragdon

Many women I know experienced the soul-crushing humiliation of being "it" during the middle school years, and none of us ever really knew why. I am ashamed to admit that I was on the other side as well -- tormenting a former friend for no good reason other than we needed someone to be "it" that year.

I commend the author for all of the support she gave her daughter. I hid what was going on from my mom, thinking she would be as ashamed as I was of my unworthiness. Support from other adults, in particular some kind teachers who recognized what was going on, helped keep me going. I sometimes wonder if those teachers had experienced the same thing when they were in the midst of rocky adolescence?

-- Elizabeth Doolin

Carolyn Magner's article brought back emotions that I had successfully repressed for years. I was one of those "outcast" girls at one time, and another time, it shames me to admit, I was also one of the group. I had written off those experiences as typical. But now things have changed. I have a daughter, and it horrifies me to think that my sweet, sensitive 5-year-old could be the butt of such cruelty. But it terrifies me further, and more profoundly, that she could be one of those who impose that cruelty on someone else's sweet, sensitive girl. Hopefully she, and the other children, can be taught that tearing another down is not the way to build yourself up. But then again, parents have tried to teach that lesson for generations.

-- Stacy Cochran

Kudos to you for publishing these articles about what it's like to be on the outside. I was like that in high school. I went to private, Christian high schools and was always on the outside. I didn't wear "cool enough" clothes because my parents struggled financially during that time. I wore glasses. And I listened up in class and got pretty much all A's, a smattering of B's here and there. I hated high school. I hated my classmates. But I found my way out. I volunteered at a local hospital. I participated in a church youth group. I was also involved in a youth drama troupe. Then college came. The "ugly duckling" was now in a large group of friendly people. I was the one the girls who lived on my hall were jealous of, since I always seemed to have some sort of male attention, had plenty of men flirting with me and had dates.

This article made me feel like I wasn't the only "dork" in high school, and helped remind me how far I've come since. I'm now a nurse, share a fabulous townhome in an upscale neighborhood, have a great boyfriend and have lots of great friends to be with. I'm lucky. And to those who went to high school with me and tormented me, all I have to say to you is look what you missed out on!

-- Heather Maki

Salon Staff

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