Think back to when you were in school. There were the popular kids, and then there were the ones that were not. Did you ever feel out of place? Student-made hierarchies have been in schools for years and are now embedded into society.As students enter grammar schools, they have variations ofhierarchies that were left there by the generations before them. Some stereotypical levels of the pyramid is popular kids at the top, nerds somewhere in the middle, antisocial people on the bottom, and many other levels based on the school. These social classes have separated people into groups based on various characteristics. They can affect children while they are figuring out their futures and identities, depending on students roles and location in the hierarchy. There are many different ways power is abused, such as bullying, appearance over personality, and students your role in the hierarchy can continue into adulthood.
First and foremost, the most evident way power is abused is bullying. There are two main types of bullying that exists; physical and verbal. In the article “Effects of Bullying,”“the effects of being bullied, being a bystander, or being the bully can stay with you your whole life.” Although some people think it is a natural way of life, it has very harmful effects on the students involved. I interviewed some students at South Orange Middle School about what they thought on the subject. Many of them had first hand experiences with being a bystander, but wanted to stay anonymous. “I tend to see most people getting bullied by people that have quite a bit of money,” said student one, “I have seen one of my friends have something, that these people liked, and they took it from my friend.” This exemplifies that because people have given them a higher social class, they thought it was acceptable to take someone else’s belongings and exploit them. According to the article “School Bullying Statistics,” “When it comes to verbal bullying, this type of bullying is the most common type with about 77 percent of all students being bullied verbally in some way or another including mental bullying or even verbal abuse.” Even though there is no physical harm involved it is still just as harmful, and may hurt the student more. Physical harm eventually goes away, but verbal harm can stay with you forever. A quote on Instagram states, “What I want to say, please be careful with what you say to other people because words hurt and it can take a lifetime to recover” (storytime.s).
Adding onto that, “people tend to be placed into different groups, based on their looks,” student two stated, “each group will have a certain way that they dress, and they kind of look similar. People can tell what group you are in based on your style. If you are at the top of the hierarchy people are more likely to follow your style.” A good example of this is shown in the movie Mean Girls. Regina George wore a shirt with holes in it, and the next day everyone was wearing the same style, because they wanted to be friends with the most popular girl in school. They followed whatever she did even though she talked bad about them behind their back. This is showing that very few people noticed how she was a very degrading person. People still looked right past personality, and focused on looks alone. Another piece of information was stated in an article by the Huffington Post. It reads, “…when people think that they are more physically attractive, they believe that they belong to a higher social class, independent of their actual level of physical attractiveness and objective social status.” This demonstrates that people mainly focus on their looks, and the people around them do as well.
Lastly, a student’s role in your school hierarchy can continue into adulthood. This seems to be a contradicting topic. Many adults think that after high school your popularity doesn’t matter. Others believe that it does have some effect on your job and salary after college. According to an article by PBS, “…yes, there’s some truth to the yearbook predictions, social scientists find. Broadly speaking, the brainy grinds and the glad-handing class officers achieve success as adults. The jocks are fitter and in better health. The outcasts and dropouts are more likely to be depressed and unemployed.” This indicates that even though it is not true for everyone, you’re standing in high school can have a play in your future role. However, one example of a student’s rank in school not continuing into adulthood is Ariana Grande, one of today’s top-selling recording artists who admits she was a nerd when she was in school. This proves that while sometimes your rank in school can continue into adulthood nothing is completely set.
Overall, power is abused in several ways through student hierarchies. Although there are many ways power is abused, there are always ways that power can be used wisely. For example, if someone was very popular in high school, and had a good voice they can use that voice to make change. One example of that is Oprah Winfrey. She was not only popular in high school, but also won speech competitions and was on her speech team. She used her voice to make change for the good. We can try and have more students use their power is by encouraging that they make change. If they have a good influence on people, a good voice, or are very smart they can take that to their advantage. They can try and use it for the better, and to help them do that it is up to the schools to hold events and help make these changes happen.