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The Topic of Cliques Clicks With Readers

May 30, 1999

Re "A Vicious Circle?" by Nancy Wride, May 19:

I'm 16 and a sophomore in my first year of home school studies. A lot of what the people said in your interviews is true. Nothing really has changed; people have always been made fun of. I have gone through these circles, but I felt like I didn't belong to any of them. My first year of high school was so terrible, I hated it.

What happened in Colorado was really sad. I just can't believe that so many teenagers are dying. . . . Everyone has to wake up and see that the next generation is falling apart, and it is going to be too late if we don't start to do something about it. We need help!

And I want to help in any way that I can. I know that I can help, because I am a teenager and I know how it feels to be made fun of. I hope that I can be of help. I want this to stop.

JESSICA ASTUDILLO

Los Angeles

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Honestly, most of my friends are Asian because I am Asian. It's hard to cross over in high school. In elementary school, I would hang out with anybody, and nobody would ever point and stare. It seems strange that high school--a steppingstone to maturity--is where some people still act immature over interracial relationships or people who have black attire. What is so wrong about being different in a country which promotes freedom of speech?

LESLIE DOGOLDOGOL

Chino Hills

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Cliques are not only found in elementary and secondary schools but in colleges as well. You would think that once you entered college, it would be different. But it's not.

I think you're right about the need for parents to learn to have a close relationship with their children at a very young age. I think they can indeed have a positive influence on their children's choice of friends. But I also think that parents need to learn how not to instill snobby or holier-than-thou attitudes or preconceived notions or stereotypes about other people. This is something a child will learn to internalize, believe, and not care about as he or she starts throwing out careless remarks about another student.

SYLVIA MORELOS

Via Internet

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I read your article with great fascination and more than slightly mixed emotions, remembering all the social anxieties during my own high school years (1958-62).

A subject that piqued my interest was the double-edged sword often faced by minority students: the discriminatory behavior of the Anglo majority, and the equally cutting accusations of attempting to blend in with that majority, hence the names "coconut," "banana," "oreo," etc. Try being acceptable to two differing cliques, and one runs the risk of getting what for from both sides! And you never even mentioned the issues faced by gay and lesbian students.

This is why I'm opposed to obvious displays of religious affiliation or school-sanctioned prayer time. This could become fodder for further clique rivalries--religious differences coupled with the "my-way-is-right-you-need-to-be-saved" mentality. And, yes, it can get physical. Life is often black-and-white at this age.

J. ALAN ROSENSTEIN

Santa Monica

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