Today, Clarissa had a post on a Russian student impressions in an American High School. Coincidentally, I was thinking about writing a post on a similar topic, but with a different focus.
Last night, I was talking to my parents on the phone and they told me they had run into somebody that had been my high school classmate, and that this person had send his regards to me. My parents asked me what I thought about him, and I told them that I didn't particularly like him in high school, but I never saw him after that, and one thing I have learned is that people change a lot after high school, so whatever I though of him back in the early 90s doesn't necessarily hold true today.
One way Argentinean's high-school are different from American high-school is: a) You do not have the division between middle school and high school. High school is considered from 8th grade until your senior year, b) you don't have elective courses that you can take. The curriculum is more rigid (although each school can have a variant of it), so everybody takes whatever courses you are supposed to take each year. As a result, you also have the same classmates in every class for those five years. Literally, you spend 5-6 hours a day, 5 times a week, with the same people.
Back to the high school story. I was re-telling my conversation with my parents to my husband, and I said that I had the impression that bullying was less frequent in Argentina than in the United States. By bullying I mean not only physical aggression but verbal abuse (constant taunting, mockery, etc). I don't think I ever witness an act of physical violence on school grounds or related to school issue. There was a hierarchy of students, with the "popular", "cool" ones and the wanna-be that followed them. But if you were not one of them (and trust me, I wasn't), you were more likely to be left alone and not invited to a party than actively mocked. And there were enough "uncool" kids where you could form your own group of friends. I am not saying it was a paradise, but it wasn't hell either.
On the other hand, whatever I know from bullying in the United States is what I read in the newspapers or see in the movies, so I could be absolutely wrong. Then I wondered if the fact that you spend so much time with the same people dissuades some from engaging in active bullying. My husband also mentioned the fact that as a teenager in Argentina, you have other places where potential aggression can come out: for example, I started going to punk music shows when I was 16, and I did witnessed there my fair amount of fights (and I always avoided them like the plague). Maybe that is another contributing factor. I don't know.
As a final disclaimer: both the high school I went to and the stories I know from friends I made in college include a socioeconomic group of teenagers that go from the lower middle class to the upper middle class. I don't know what happens in schools in a slum, for example, nor in high schools where the extremely wealthy rich kids go.
So what do you think? From my story, do you think there is a difference in bullying in the United States and in Argentina? What is your experience with it?