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Quiet Kids {format} {format} 4:07 Hillary Frank

The spoft-spoken speak out.

Broadcast: Mar 23 2005 on NPR Day to Day Subjects: Youth, Education, Children

Profile: Voices of teen-agers who are quiet and feel isolated from the cultural life of their high schools

March 23, 2005 from Day to Day

MADELEINE BRAND, host: Officials at Red Lake High School today reached out to students who were traumatized by the nation's worst school shooting in six years. Sixteen-year-old Jeff Weise shot and killed nine people and wounded seven others before shooting himself. His relatives say he was a loner who was teased by others. Many teen-agers are withdrawn and bullied by peers. We hear now from four high school kids who talk about what it's like to be quiet and why it can be tough.

Unidentified Teen-ager #1: I would describe myself as nice.

Unidentified Teen-ager #2: Nice and quiet.

Unidentified Teen-ager #3: Quiet. Also smart. Quiet again. Yeah.

Unidentified Teen-ager #1: I guess the first time I realized I was quiet was when people started pointing it out, like in junior high and like asking me `Why don't you talk?'

Unidentified Teen-ager #3: I heard that question many times, `Why are you so quiet?'

Unidentified Teen-ager #2: Really the main reason I'm so quiet is I don't like anybody to know anything about me. That way, I don't have to worry about being hurt by friends, being hurt by family. I'm in my own world. Just leave me alone.

Unidentified Teen-ager #3: And I think other kids think that I'm judging them, because, like, they don't see me as, like, cursing in the halls or something, as some people do.

(Soundbite of students; bell)

Unidentified Teen-ager #3: When the bell goes off and people are, like, talking to their friends, socializing, going to their lockers, it's like I'm in a bubble or something, but there are some people like me, so...

Unidentified Teen-ager #1: I kind of like crouch down and like try to walk by, not being seen.

Unidentified Teen-ager #2: I'm walking alone. I feel isolated. It'd be like the whole world's in black and white, but then I'll just be in the crowd, just in color.

Unidentified Teen-ager #4: I always wait until everybody else goes to class before I go to class, because I don't like being crowded around a whole bunch of people.

Unidentified Teen-ager #2: I want to be like in the shadows, in the backstage.

Unidentified Teen-ager #4: They like call me the stupid quiet kid, because like at lunch, I sit there the whole time until lunch is over and just walk out.

Unidentified Teen-ager #3: Some people, they don't realize you're there until you leave, so maybe I want people like to notice that I am there.

Unidentified Teen-ager #1: Like what if I won't ever get loud? I mean, I guess one of the things is dating. Like what if that never happens? Or with teaching, if that's what I want to do in the future, like what if I can't get up in front of a class of students and be able to talk and explain things without getting nervous?

Unidentified Teen-ager #4: Like if my wife, if she talks a lot and I'm quiet, I'm fine with that, because it'll be easier for her.

Unidentified Teen-ager #3: If I express myself better, maybe I would be a better person, and not like defend myself, but just like say, `That wasn't nice, what you just said,' just to say that would be nice.

BRAND: Reflections from Faben Walda-Mariam(ph) along with Jeff Moldanado(ph), Heidi Creiss(ph) and Lavel Flemming(ph). Hilary Frank produced the piece, with the help of WBEZ's "Chicago Matters" and Hearing Voices.

(Soundbite of music)

BRAND: DAY TO DAY is a production of NPR News and I'm Madeleine Brand.