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Student cliques can cause psychological harm

Students+sit+with+their+friends+in+the+morning+before+classes+start.
Students sit with their friends in the morning before classes start.

Students sit with their friends in the morning before classes start.

Anthony Mazza

Anthony Mazza

Students sit with their friends in the morning before classes start.

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High school can be a hard time for some students, especially when they are searching for a place where they might belong. In the process, students are likely to come across two different groups: friend groups and cliques.

There is a definite distinction between a group of friends and a clique. A group of friends is usually a positive force that welcomes others. A clique, on the other hand, is usually a negative force that appears to leave people out.

Ms. Dillon, Student Assistance Program Coordinator, explained, “When you hear the word clique, it sounds exclusive and it gives off the impression that they’re leaving people out. A group of friends sounds more inclusive and friendly.”

Brooke Pieper (10) also believes that the difference between cliques and friend groups is the availability.

She said, “A clique is a group of people who don’t usually hang out with other people, but a friend group is people who are willing to expand their horizons and hang out with anyone.”

Although many students at VHHS do agree that there are cliques in our school, some believe that these cliques aren’t necessarily a bad thing.

Ben Aron Santos (10) said, “There are plenty of cliques [at VHHS], but most of them are friendly…They don’t go around bullying people.”

Jax Goldufsky (9) also agreed that bullying and cliques aren’t big issues within our school.

“There are a few cliques, but it’s nothing too serious. There is almost no bullying [by cliques],” said Goldufsky.

Although there are many students who believe that cliques do not go out of their way to bully others, their very existence can hurt some students’ experience. The fact they they ignore other people and make people feel left out is very harmful psychologically.

Pieper believes cliques are a problem, precisely for this reason. “I think many people are affected because it is very hard to make friends especially when it is a clique,” said Pieper.

Dillon explained the psychological impacts of exclusion on teenagers in particular.

Dillon said, “Self esteem is huge, and this is such a tough time for adolescents because you’re trying to find yourselves. A big part of your high school years is feeling like you belong, so If you’re being totally excluded thats gonna have an impact on how you feel.”

Because of the psychological damage that cliques can cause, some students think that the very existence of a clique can be a negative force in VHHS.

Pieper said, “Personally, I think cliques aren’t necessary. Everyone should be friends with everyone, and not just stick to certain people.”

The problem with cliques is that they technically aren’t breaking the rules. Students cannot be punished for leaving people out of their group.

Dillon stated, “We can’t tell people that they have to let people in, and students can’t get in trouble for stuff like that. If it was a bullying thing, we would have to get involved.”

As students look for a place to belong, clubs and sports can help them make friends and connect with different people. However, sports that cut players can complicate matters further.

Dillon said, “It’s tough because the competitions are huge. Coaches have it really tough because they have to cut people from the team. Hopefully, since we have so many clubs here at Vernon Hills, students can find somewhere they fit and a cause they can support.”

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