Cliques Aren’t Cool

Acceptance, Bullying, Drama, Relationships, School

When you’re at school, sure, you usually hang out with the same people everyday. Or maybe you have a few different groups you hang with. Makes sense… they’re probably people that you have a lot in common with. It isn’t bad to have a group of friends, or to hang with the same people. It only gets bad when you and your friends become “clique-y.”

A “clique” is a tight group of friends that have a strict code of membership and ways to act. They’re not so much about the friendships, but more about maintaining their status and popularity. Sometimes they use their status and power to exclude and be mean to other people. A group of girls might laugh and make fun of another group of girls they pass by in the halls, to make them feel not as cool as them… or they might get mad at a girl in their own group for wearing a sweatshirt and jeans, and not dressing up like them everyday.

If you feel like you’re in the middle of a drama-filled high school movie… your friends are probably too clique-y.

Obviously, girls aren’t the only ones in cliques. While girls usually form their cliques around style and fashion, guys tend to form cliques around a sport, video game, or music.

Cliques can lead to bullying, and that’s something you don’t want to have any part in. There’s no sense in making someone feel bad and like they aren’t as “cool” as you, just because you so desperately want to be cool yourself and fit in, Really… is it worth it? Is it worth being a jerk to someone, just so you can impress your supposed “friends?” Do you REALLY think they’re your friends, if that’s what it takes for them to like you?

Again, being in different groups isn’t bad at all. Maybe you hang with your soccer friends sometimes, your choir friends other times, and the other girls who share your love for reality shows at other times. That’s perfectly normal, and JUST FINE. You should be hanging with people you feel comfortable with, and that you share similar interests with.

It only becomes a problem if you and your friends become obsessed with your status and start bullying other people because of it. Usually, people in cliques aren’t true friends. They’re bossy and demanding. They tell you how you should dress, how you should act, what you should say. Who needs friends like that?

Always remember to be TRUE TO YOURSELF. Make sure you always do the things you love, listen to music you enjoy, and dress how you want to dress. If anyone else isn’t cool with that, you don’t need them. Make sure that all of your friends are cool with you for who you really are.

If one of your friends is getting clique-y and is being a jerk to other people, tell them. Tell them they’re being ridiculous and they need to stop. Be kind and sensitive towards others… you wouldn’t want someone else to be mean to you, or any of your friends. Also don’t let them pressure you. Who cares if they’re giving you a hard time about hanging with that other guy that’s “too lame”? Don’t quit hanging out with him if you enjoy his friendship. YOU are responsible for your own actions. Have a mind of your own.

One thing that seems to be true in most high schools, is that usually it seems to be underclassmen who are more obsessed with cliques and popularity. Once high schoolers get older, they realize that it doesn’t really matter. It isn’t worth it. After high school, nobody will care that you were on homecoming court. All the status and popularity points will disappear. So do you really want to work that hard and sacrifice that much for something that only lasts 4 years??

It’s pretty simple… if you want good friends, BE A GOOD FRIEND. Be a good listener. Be caring. Always check in with your friends to see how things are going. Don’t be mean. Don’t be rude or make anyone feel bad. Be the type of friend you want other people to be to you. Don’t get mixed up in the lame high school drama.

Verbal Abuse: You Don’t Deserve It

Bullying, Dating, Depression, Drama, Family, Relationships

When people think of abusive relationships, they usually think of the more obvious kind of abuse… they think of one person hitting the other, causing them to get a black eye and/or have bruises all over their body. Yes, physical abuse is terrible, and it unfortunately it happens a lot. But it isn’t the only type of abuse out there.

No matter who it is, nobody should ever do any of the following to you or anyone else:

  • call you names
  • put you down
  • yell/scream at you
  • embarrass you in public/in front of friends
  • keep you from seeing/talking to your family and friends
  • tell you what to do/wear
  • blame you for anything they do
  • stalk you
  • threaten you
  • start rumors about you
  • make you feel guilty

Whether it’s your boyfriend/girlfriend, parent, family member, friend, or anyone else, if they are continually doing any of these things to you, it’s verbal abuse. It’s one thing when someone says something mean once or twice, apologizes, and then stops doing it… but when they do it several times, apologize, do it again, apologize again, do it again, and it turns into a never ending cycle… then it’s a serious problem.

Although verbal abuse doesn’t cause you to get a swollen eye or bruises on your body, it causes emotional pain and scarring. When someone treats you so poorly, it gets to you and makes you feel like crap. It can completely destroy your self-esteem and confidence in yourself and your abilities. It can cause you to become depressed, a drug addict or alcoholic, sexually promiscuous, or even physically violent. When people are verbally abused during childhood and/or adolescence, they often carry those emotions into adulthood and form trust issues with people they have a relationship with. Victims of verbal abuse usually isolate themselves from other people to at least some extent.

The bottom line is that abuse is never justified. That goes for any type of abuse. It doesn’t matter what you did, what you said, how you dress, who you hung out with… it is never okay for anybody to treat somebody like that. Never blame yourself. If your significant other, parent, or whoever it is has a problem with anything you’re doing, they can choose to talk to you about it in mature, healthy way. No matter what the situation is, it is their choice to deal with it in such an inappropriate way and that is not your fault. You do not deserve it.

If you think you are being verbally abused, or if you have a friend who is, here’s what you can do:

  • Let the abuser know how hurtful their words are. Just try talking to them. Make sure they know how everything they say affects you. Hopefully they will actually listen to you and take your feelings into consideration. Sometimes people will apologize and stop, but sometimes they will deny it: if they say anything like ” you’re too sensitive,” “you’re exaggerating,” “that didn’t happen,” or “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” then just stop. They are trying to manipulate you and make you feel like it’s all your fault. Unfortunately, sometimes you can’t just talk to abusers… but you can at least try.
  • Surround yourself with a support system. Tell close family and friends what’s going on. They will reassure you that it’s not your fault, and that the things the abuser is saying about you aren’t true. They can help you restore your self-esteem and confidence in yourself. They could also potentially help you confront the abuser, and/or get help from someone at school, a counselor or therapist, or the authorities.
  • Stay calm and walk away. When somebody is yelling hateful things to you, of course it’s easy to get angry and talk smack back to them. But really, that’s what they want.. a reaction from you. Don’t give that to them. Don’t give them the power and satisfaction of knowing that they got to you. As hard as it may be, just leave. If the abuse is going on in your home, go stay with friend or relative for a while. Or you can even go for a walk or a run, or to a coffee shop. Just go somewhere where you can breath, relax, and maybe talk to somebody about it for a while.
  • Get help from a school counselor. Explain the situation to your counselor. They’ll know exactly what you should do. They can refer you to counseling, give advice, or contact authorities if there’s abuse going on at home. You don’t have to know how to figure this out on your own, so get help.
  • Don’t allow them to control how you feel. After a while of being told you’re stupid and worthless, or fat and ugly, or whatever else, naturally you’ll begin to feel that way. Don’t give anyone the power to make you feel negatively about yourself. You need to realize that they don’t REALLY even think those things about you… it isn’t even about you, it’s about them. There’s something else very wrong going on with THEM. Maybe they’re actually jealous of you in some way, or they feel bad about themselves so they want you to feel bad about yourself. Do not let them control you.

Again, nobody deserves any type of abuse… never, ever. Sometimes verbal abuse is a little harder to recognize, but if you’re in any type of relationship where you find yourself being put down, feeling threatened, not valued, and straight up crappy about yourself, especially if this is going on all the time… you need to get help. Don’t make excuses for the other person, just get help.

Thinking About Running Away?

Depression, Drama, Family, Homelessness, Juvenile Crime, Juvenile Crime, Trouble

In the United States, 1 in 7 kids between ages 10-18 will run away at some point. On any given day, between 1 and 3 million runaway and homeless kids are alone on the streets.

Kids run away for lots of reasons. Most of the time, it’s because of family problems of some kind, like big arguments or abuse. Sometimes they did something wrong and they’re too afraid to tell their parents, so they just leave. Sometimes it’s something else like a new baby in the family, a death in the family, their parents splitting up or a new stepparent comes along, or they start drinking or doing drugs, or maybe their parents are drinking and doing drugs.

If you’re thinking about running away, you’re probably wanting to do it to avoid your problems. But you need to know that running away and being on the streets will create a whole new set of problems for you. You might run out of money, you might not have any food and water, you won’t have anywhere safe and warm to sleep, and you might even get mixed up in the wrong crowd and get into some scary, illegal stuff. So, there are some other things you can do.

Instead of running away…

  • Express your feelings with friends and trusted adults, instead of keeping everything to yourself. Let them know what’s going on, and talk about it so you can come up with a better solution than running away
  • When you’re really upset, try calming yourself down by doing something you enjoy, like listening to music, writing poetry, writing in a journal, or exercising.
  • When you’re having a problem, make a list of ways you can fix it and make everything better.
  • Get help from an adult, like a teacher or counselor. Ask them to help you figure what to do, or somewhere else you can stay.
  • Talk to your parents about it and see if you can work it out as a family.

If you have a friend who wants to run away…

  • Warn them about how tough it will be to survive on the streets. Let them know that they won’t have enough money, food, or water, and that they could have to deal with some really scary stuff out there all by themselves.
  • Remind them that there are other ways they can deal with their problem, and that an adult will know how to help.
  • If your friend doesn’t want to tell an adult, tell an adult anyway. When your friend is out on the streets, you don’t want to keep that a secret. You aren’t being a bad friend by telling when they asked you not to… You’re probably saving their life.

Another thing you can do is call The National Runaway Switchboard at 1-800-RUNAWAY (1-800-786-2929). Their hotline is open 24 hours a day, and your call is free from anywhere. You can also go on and live chat. They’ll be able to help you find somewhere to stay.

If you live in Yamhill County, Youth Outreach has a Safe Shelter program for anyone 11-17. If you need help, you can come into our drop-in center Monday-Friday any time until 9 p.m., or call us at 503-538-8023. For weekends and after hours, you can call 1-866-538-8023 (free call from anywhere) and we’ll come pick you up wherever you are. We’ll find somewhere for you to stay.

Technology & Relationships

Family, Relationships, Technology

A lot of teenagers today are addicted to technology. It’s obvious. For those of you who have cell phones, odds are you find yourself spending a lot of your free time texting friends and checking Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and whatever other social media sites you have an account on.

Here are the statistics:

  • 75% of teens have a cell phone
  • 73% of teens are on a social media website like Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace
  • 93% of teens spend time online
  • a typical teen sends anywhere between 50-100 texts everyday… sometimes even more

Sure, not all teens are addicted, and not all of you even have Facebook and a cell phone. But the numbers are high and they are continuing to get higher.

Texting and social media sites are great. They are quick, easy, and super convenient. Sometimes you might not have time to call your friend to see if they want to hang out later, or you aren’t sure if they’re busy at that moment and might not be able to answer the phone. It’s fun seeing pictures your friend posts of Facebook, especially the friends that moved away or you might not be able to see very often. Catching up with someone via texting can be convenient when you’re both busy and have different schedules. There’s nothing wrong with texting or social media… as long as you don’t become addicted to it.

A lot of teens today tend to rely on texting and Facebook too much instead of engaging in face-to-face conversations. Some people text friends all night long who they’ve never spoken to at school, or maybe the only thing they’ve said to each other in person is “hi” as they pass in the halls. Some people Facebook their boyfriend/girlfriend instead of going out on dates. Some people even text someone they’re sitting right next to instead of actually talking to them.

With that being said, teens are having a hard time developing social skills. Hiding behind the internet and texting is causing them to not develop communication skills they need for jobs, relationships, school, and life in general. When you need to confront somebody and have a tough conversation, it sure is easy to just text them about it, but that won’t do you any good when someday you have a disagreement with your spouse or somebody at work. Will you feel too awkward and uncomfortable talking to them about it in person?

“Texting and Facebook friendships” also usually lack depth, meaning you probably aren’t as close with that person as you think you are. You can text someone 100 times every single day, but if you can’t have a real conversation with them in person, you aren’t really friends. It’s better to have quality over quantity: more real friends that you hang out with and talk to in real life as opposed to having tons of friends text you everyday. If something happens to you and you’re upset, would you rather text someone about it, or have someone be with you who you can talk to and hug and cry with?

Another thing about texting and messaging is it’s really easy for things you say to be misconstrued. When someone’s reading a message, it’s sometimes hard to tell if their friend is teasing them or joking with them, or if they’re being serious. But in person, you can hear in the person’s voice and see in their actions whether they’re joking or not. A lot of fights can start because of messaging.

Just like drugs and alcohol, if you continue to text or go on Facebook constantly, it can become a serious addiction. Your brain can become used to using technology so much, and even want to use it more and more. So be careful to only text and go on Facebook in moderation.

Especially with Christmas is coming up, try setting your phone down for a few days (or even just a few hours) and spend some quality time with your friends and family instead of hiding behind your phone. Engage in real conversations, watch movies together, play games together, go for a walk, go to the mall, share meals together. There are plenty of ways to spend quality time with those around you!

Stop the bullying!

Depression, Drama, Juvenile Crime, Life, Technology, Uncategorized

ImageTechnology has many advantages, but every good thing does have a downside. As cell phone usage and online activity is increasing, it opens more doors for bullying to take place. Just because something is said online doesn’t mean it is any less hurtful to the person who’s targeted. You may think that bashing people on the internet is okay because you are just ‘stating the truth’ and it’s safer when you’re hiding behind a computer. But in fact, written words on a screen can even do more damage to someone because it will always be there for them to read and remember. Before saying something rude about someone online, think twice. Is this something you would say to their face? If not, then it’s probably best not to say it at all. If you would, then how about you talk it over with the person you have a problem with rather than putting them down through social media? Clear communication is key and to be honest, bashing through text or social networking sites will not get you anywhere in resolving a conflict. If you are unsure whether it is cyber-bullying or not, here are a few examples: Disclosing someone’s personal information on a public website, spreading rumors or lies about someone publicly, posting embarrassing pictures of someone or sending via email or text message, taking on someone else’s identity (making fake facebook profile )and saying things to cause that person harm, and lastly, sending anything rude or threatening through messaging or email. If you are doing anything of the sort, just stop. It is not worth getting in trouble and hurting other people in the process. Tearing others down is just plain wrong, whether you do it in person or on the internet. If you see someone being targeted, be the bigger man and step up for them! You can also report people if they are bullying on social networking sites. Do not let cyber-bullying go unnoticed and put an end to it! Watch what you say about others because your words really do have the power to hurt or heal.