Education: Your Views

Please send your letters to: Wendy Berliner, Editor, EDUCATION, `The Independent', One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL (include a day-time phone number) Fax letters to: 0171 293 2451; e-mail: Letters may be edited for length and clarity.
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The Independent Culture
Beating the bullies

With reference to your article "When the bully making your child's life hell is his teacher" (EDUCATION, 5 August), when my son was 10 he told us that he was being picked on by his teacher - a man in his 20s. I didn't think it was very serious until a neighbour told me that her son in the same class had told her of certain incidents involving my son.

I felt it very important for my son's self-confidence that he should take part in dealing with the problem and he was coached in how to deal with the next incident. He knew that he was fully supported in his actions and so when the next opportunity arose, he stood up in class in front of his fellow pupils and said loudly and confidently: "Stop picking on me, you are a bully." Only when he had done this did I speak to the teacher myself and did not involve the headteacher.

Apparently, the teacher felt that my son was too much of an individual, which he thought would lead to trouble in the future. End of problem. I'm proud to say that my son at 26 is still an individual and is confident and successful.


Bootham, York

Drug hell

I have just read the article "Where did we go wrong?" (EDUCATION, 12 August) - it was as if someone was writing about my own family.

My son has, since leaving school at 16, been using drugs. We tried every trick in the book to get him off the stuff, but he too was sneaky, borrowing money from friends, thieving and taking jewellery to the pawn brokers. He is now 25 and is hooked. He has left home many times and comes back worse than when he went. We finally asked him to leave about four weeks ago as enough is enough.

Our house was not a home while he was there. We too had to lock doors. If it wasn't nailed down he would take it. As for getting a job - no chance. You support your children as much as you can but he would use emotional blackmail to bring me to my lowest. There is only one cure for him and that is to be admitted to a drug rehab clinic. But I've been told the waiting list is as long as for someone waiting for a heart by-pass (about 18 months). And so he will carry on borrowing, stealing and being a burden to the state because the powers that be do not realise that there is a problem out there, and that the only people who are benefiting from it are the drug pushers.

I often look at pictures of him when he was young and ask myself: "Where did I go wrong? Am I being punished for being a working mum? Should I have spent every spare moment of my time with him? Was I too soft? Should he have been an only child?" The list could go on forever - but at the end of the day the onus will always fall on the parents. Why us? Because we brought him into this world.


Orpington, Kent

Re: "Where did we go wrong?": my heart goes out to the mother who wrote this piece. My organisation was founded by a heroin user's mother, who wrote to a national newspaper in 1967 about her problem.

I urge the writer, and any other parents concerned about drug use, to obtain a free copy of a booklet we produce on the subject. Addaction's "Parent's Guide to Drugs" was devised to provide accurate facts about drugs and alcohol and to help adults discuss drug use with young people.

We run 22 drugs projects throughout the country, many of which include help for parents of drug users as well as for young drug users.

Please telephone our central office on 0171-251 5860 for a copy of the guide and information about Addaction's work with young people and parents.

PETER MARTIN (Chief Executive, Addaction)

London EC1