Vulnerability in Schools

When described by older generations, high school is seen to be a challenge mainly because of the social aspect. Has this changed for future generations?


From exaggerations to interviews, the social aspect and “hierarchy” of high school is not a new concept. The majority of teenagers will and have dealt with feelings of judgment during their highschool career.


During the time of high school, it becomes a common feeling that leaving the safety of your home, you arrive at school with full exposure.


Kathyrn Lai, writer from Ripple Foundation, comments off of personal experience: “limiting authenticity and stunting identity formation, the implications of a social hierarchy restrict behavior deemed inappropriate by punishing those who engage in it” (Lai). 


Lai gets at the common idea of attempting to fit into a certain crowd, look, or persona. She describes its restrictive properties and harmful viewpoint. She comments on how it becomes inappropriate due to its constrictions on an individual’s identity. 


Anthony E. Wolf, a clinical psychologist and author of several parenting books, writes, “the constant sense of being judged is a normal part of adolescence. Out there in the world of school you feel very vulnerable […] the constant teenage nightmare: being an ostracized, ridiculed thing standing out there with everybody watching” (Wolf).


Wolf describes what he believes to be a fear for adolescents. The nightmare of being singled out for all to judge and assume. This idea of the feeling, nightmare, or fear being normalized or common is disconcerting. No doubt, students do not hope to “leave the comfort of their homes” for vulnerability at school.  


As this information is analyzed, the question comes into mind, can this issue be solved?


An ideal environment for all students could be described as welcoming, supportive, and inclusive. Harsh judgment and exclusivity causes feelings of inferiority, negativity, and inadequacy. It is up to the individual student if judgment becomes their default thought process.