Patty, a white girl from a middle class family, did not see herself as a leader among her friends.
Below you will find word-for-word excerpts taken from interviews conducted in 1998 as part of a Facing History and Ourselves evaluation study. Please note that the names have been changed to protect the privacy of the students. Also please note that the voices on the audio recordings are those of actors, and are not the actual voices of the students originally interviewed.
The Fall of Eighth Grade:
PATTY: Also, it's sort of weird, 'cause you'd never expect somebody who was as popular as she was to, like, be sort of like, shunned from the group by everyone else, but we, sort of, like, we all just went against her.
She talked about people behind their back ... but I think other people did that, too. ...I really don't know ...why we were so willing to jump on her and attack her more than anyone else.
People were breaking the confidence. ...She had told them stuff in confidence, and people, sort of, forgot that was one of the reasons why they didn't like her. And they just, sort of, like started doing it to her.
It sort of seemed like it was a cool thing to do ... to be mean to her. And I guess it felt good to be able to get your anger out on a person, regardless of whether or not they really deserved to be the person. ...It sort of seemed like, sort of, exciting, like it was something you could talk about.
I figured if I stuck by her, I would probably be her friend or be friends with all the other friends that I have, and I guess I, sort of, like ,chose them over her because, like, they were more important to me.
If I sort of like became her, like, good friend, like, started hanging out with her and doing stuff with her, I would definitely, sort of like, be not as close to the friends I have now. I don't know how far it would go, but it definitely would have an effect on it.
People still say, like, might say something, "Oh, look at what she's wearing today," or whatever, but, like, I mean, I know I don't say --. I try not to say mean stuff about her anymore, but it's sort of become a habit.
What they've done has left a permanent effect on Sue. She'll never get over it. Though people feel remorse, it's too late now.
The Spring of Eighth Grade:
PATTY: Once we had started, it was sort of like, you couldn't stop.... It builds and builds and builds until the point where you can't, sort of, turn back and say we're not going to do this to her anymore.
The Holocaust, or whatever. I think it started out with little things like that. Like, it didn't all happen at once. And so, I mean, that's what I think about how it connects to me personally. 'Cause it's like, we allow people to be hurt for no reason. Or because if we're there every, like, every day. And, that's on like a much, a much smaller scale, what happened in the Holocaust. And that's how I connect it myself, really.
I think probably because you feel, like, if they are picking on her, they are going to leave me alone.
Some people who make fun of other kids, I think that one of the reasons they do it is out of fear that if they don't, someone would make fun of them for how they are. ...I think the people who are actually the ones making fun are also afraid of what might happen if they don't make fun of people. Because then, other people would make fun of them.
INTERVIEWER: Knowing the things that you know now, that you've learned this year, do you feel like you would have acted differently now? That you would act differently if this happened?
PATTY: I'm not sure it would have happened. I mean, I think that like, it makes you realize that these things happen every day and you just can't, sort of, say like, "Oh this isn't a big thing." ...I'm not sure it would have happened. Some people would have realized this isn't right, which I don't think we did at the time.
When you realize it could happen to her, you realize it could happen to you. I think that was one point in which I lost a lot of trust for my friends. 'Cause it was like, you say the wrong thing or you do the wrong thing and it could happen to you.
I started to be a lot more careful about, like, what I say, what I say and what I did. I guess everybody knows it's been like, a lot harder, sort of, to stand up and say what you believe or say what you want to say.
There's a lot of pressure to act a certain way. To be a certain way. And, since there's all that pressure, you're, like, afraid to say things, you know, you want to say. You, you don't know what necessarily it is that's going to happen to you once you say them.
>> What stands out for you about Patty’s perspective on the incident?
>> If you were an adult in Patty’s life (e.g. teacher, parent) what would you want her to consider that was not apparent in her perspective on the incident? What if you were one of her peers?