Most of us can look back at grim schooldays when everyone hated us and the walk down the corridor became a tortuous hell of whispers, hurtful names and that “well-placed” foot to trip us up.
In my Seventies’ high school, most pupils spent every day being reminded they fell into at least one, if not most, of the following catergories: fat, skinny, ugly, smelly, speccy, plooky, thick, bucktoothed, jug-eared, stuck-up, weirdo.
We didn’t call it bullying. Nor did we realise it was a priceless lesson in character building that was preparing us for the outside world.
According to Clifton Hall headteacher Rod Grant, pictured below, today’s overprotective schools and parents have rushed to play the bullying card so often in relatively minor incidents – like name-calling and playground spats – that we’re creating a generation of Jessies ill-equipped to deal with adulthood.
Isn’t it grand for the head of a fee-paying school to lecture us on bullying, particularly as the children at his school will be the sprogs of well-educated professionals, not quite as rough and ready as some. And unlike most headteachers, he can deal with a persistent offender by booting them out.
While he has a valid point that waving the bully card at every playground incident does no-one much good, at the other end of the scale there are children for whom those little spats snowball, causing them to wake with knots in their tummies, a dread of stepping outside and a terror of what might happen when they do.
To suggest they should just “man-up” downgrades their misery, apart from it being debatable as to whether it will indeed make them more rounded adults, or introverted souls with pitiful self esteem.
Interestingly, his comments came as parents at Pirniehall Primary took action against what they say is an over-relaxed attitude to bullying, by painting “Bullying stops here” at the school gates. Pirniehall parents know bullying doesn’t make our children better, tougher or smarter. It wounds, scars and keeps hurting long after school has ended. Anti-bullying measures don’t damage kids, bullying does.