Why Bully? Freshmen Deserve Better

LHS Underclassmen deserve the respect of other students, too: A younger student is harassed

Courtesy of MCT Campus

LHS Underclassmen deserve the respect of other students, too: A younger student is harassed

Tom Ackerman, Opinion Editor

Like any other freshman, I was terrified to start high school. Not only finding my way around this castle worried me, but also the teasing I had heard so much about. Part of this came from what I’d seen in any movie involving high school or college, and how the freshmen were portrayed; the typical 80s movie or Disney show always had some kid being slammed in a locker or taking a swim in the toilet.

After experiencing the notorious freshman year,  I think I speak for any high school freshman when I say it’s really not bad. In fact, I loved my freshman year. Whether it’s because of the negative expectations we have, or if it actually is more enjoyable than junior high, freshman year, I think, is is a good year for most at Libertyville. Part of the reason for that was the changes made by the LHS administration.

According to Assistant Principal Mr. Eric Maroscher, the key in making the change to lessen the tension between upperclassmen and freshmen was respect between the students and staff: “Once mutual respect was established, there were lines of communication,” he said.

This holds true for much of the physical abuse freshman are concerned about. Even penny throwing was an expected occurrence just a few years ago. Although there are still rare cases of physical abuse seen in the hallways, communication between students and teachers and administrators has made a huge difference.

In other words, administrators have stressed building a relationship with their students. The bond makes students think twice about their actions. According to Dr. Marina Scott, LHS principal, once kids are told how what they’re doing affects others negatively, it often stops.

Why even bother picking on the underclassmen? I remember being a freshman and being teased once by a sophomore. Although it wasn’t more than a condescending remark, it made me think — do people bully freshman just because they were teased, too? Or because it’s tradition, and they have the right to join the bandwagon all of a sudden? Here was a kid who was barely done being a freshman, and he had already taken to passing on the baton of picking on freshmen.

At a back-to-school celebration on the first day of school this year, seniors had a water balloon fight on the freshman football field for the sole reason of staying out of the parking lot to avoid freshmen bullying, as told to do so by LHS administrators. Though most stayed on the football field, a few seniors ended up finding freshman to throw their balloons at, therefore representing the seniors negatively based on the actions of a few kids. Examples of abuse like this are what can give a high school a negative reputation.

Let’s be honest, no one enjoys picking on freshmen — they’re just an easy target. So why do it? Especially at a school like LHS, where such strides are being taken to stop bullying, there’s no excuse to be pressured or obligated to participate in this bullying. According to Mr. Maroscher, “The vast majority [of the students] are outstanding. We’re always going to have that smaller group that minimizes the work of the majority,” he said. In other words, the positive attitude of most of the upperclassmen drowns out the more apparent actions of the few.

“It’s scary for freshmen,” commented Mr. Maroscher. He went on to say that “so much has been accomplished in Link Crew, only to have it ruined.”

Mr. Maroscher and Dr. Scott stressed the bond Link Crew creates in getting freshmen comfortable with the school and its students, much like the teacher-student bond they work to create.

I think Link Crew proves to be extremely beneficial in closing a gap between classes. As a junior, it’s cool to see freshmen avoiding being those nervous cliches we all know in the hallway with their maps out, afraid to ask for help for the most part; rather, underclassmen are being included and enjoying their high school years. That’s the way it should be. Wouldn’t you want your high school years to be like that?

So why not welcome the freshmen into the student section or say hello in the hallway every once in awhile? I’m not proposing the upperclassmen become best friends with freshmen or invite them to hang out, but those little gestures really do make a huge difference in a freshman’s day, and ultimately, in their high school experience.