Bullies enjoy what they do – it gives them a sense of power and invulnerability if they are not caught and punished.
The worst thing you can tell a victim of bullying is “Ignore them and they’ll go away”. They won’t. They will just see how much further they have to go to get a reaction. Any attempt to stop their fun by anyone not in a position of unassailable power over them will be aggressively rejected.
As P G Wodehouse noted, “bullies are very rarely cowards”. And they don’t call it bullying. It is only “making fun of”, “teasing”, “banter” or (if you are a cricketer) “sledging”. It is, in fact child abuse, even when conducted by children, so let’s call it that.
Each school has a duty of care towards its pupils (and staff). Not challenging abuse – and in the case in your article “Cruel days” (4 September) it is child abuse accepted by adults who are in loco parentis – is a clear breach of this duty of care. Giving a child the impossible problem of gaining acceptance after a year of abuse, without help, guidance or support, or any intention of punishing the abusers, is yet more abuse
What to do? Tell the victim that “There is life after school – it does not last forever.” Ask whether your child looks good in their clothes and haircut; children judge each other a lot by appearances. Look at physical fitness. Good posture and muscles will make your child a lot less like a victim. If there is a sports centre or gym where they can get fit, take them.
Keep a diary of every humiliation and every failure by staff to take appropriate action. Don’t let the school think it can get away with ignoring the problem. Ask for its policy on dealing with bullies – but mention that it is child abuse. Contact the governors, and regularly send them copies of the diary, asking for their advice on what to do.
And remember that abusers are experts at not getting caught. But if they are not dealt with, some of today’s “bullies” will be tomorrow’s Jimmy Saviles and Cyril Smiths.
Peter Slessenger, Reading
The most depressing thing about the article “Cruel days” is that the parent trying to resolve a bullying issue actually made matters worse, because of the apathy (cowardice) and disregard of the people in senior positions who should have dealt with the situation, but actually turned things against the bullied. A bit like blaming a rape victim for being sexually provocative.
Regrettably, bullying continues past schooldays into work, where it is rife in so many different areas. Workplace bullying is rarely, if ever, physical, but is usually the result of a misuse of power, invariably to cover up deficiencies, and is emotional, verbal, electronic and goodness knows what else, all officially defined as “harassment”.
I work in construction where bullying has become almost endemic in recent years. I always stand up to bullies but have usually found the same attitude that distressed me reading this article – not only do people turn a blind eye, they often actively encourage such disgraceful behaviour.
This comes from both employers (not wishing to “make a fuss”) and clients/principal contractors, who are usually part of the problem. Luckily, my current employers are very good in this regard.
A reduction in trade unions and professional bodies which actually care about these issues has contributed to the problem.
We need to see more trade bodies and professional institutions starting to tackle this issue properly, with proper debate, and if not punishment, then at least the naming and shaming of the protagonists, and, most importantly, offering support to victims.
This is an issue that has a detrimental effect on the wellbeing of a huge number of people, and it is about time we dragged ourselves into the 21st century and dealt with it.
Phil McLaughlin, London Colney, Hertfordshire
Can the Scots afford their own currency?
The way that the Union was set up, the Westminster Parliament extended its authority across Scotland, and the Scottish Parliament adjourned itself. The national debt therefore is Westminster’s problem. Has the SNP administration at Holyrood the mandate to lumber an independent Scotland with the proposed 10 per cent of the debt to keep sterling?
In order to borrow money to pay public-sector workers, from the start an independent Scotland would need a Scots pound. If an independent Scotland kept the British pound, there could be no public-sector borrowing, only a balanced budget. Nearly all modern states are run by borrowing to pay for public services. Scotland would need to do this, with a welfare state.
Any new Scots pound floated on the international currency markets will devalue to about 77p, if Ireland’s experience in 1979 is anything to go by, thereby cutting the spending power of all public-sector wages, pensions and benefits.
Everything in the shops would increase in price by 40 per cent in one jump if an independent Scotland had its own currency. Unfortunately, an independent Scotland would need one to function. But do the Scots want a pay cut?
Nigel F Boddy, Darlington, Co Durham
The Yes/No debate for Scottish independence is gathering momentum, with the question of what currency Scotland will use in the forefront.
Lloyds Bank and other financial institutions threaten to move to London should the Scots vote Yes: a move that would benefit the Scots rather than harm them – they should be cheering them on their way.
Currency and monetary manipulation is a lever of control of the ruling elite. The last thing in the world an independent Scotland should consider is keeping either the British pound or the euro.
Both are under the control of central banks run for the benefit of the bankers and their owners.
As Mayer Amschel Rothschild said in 1790: “Let me issue and control a nation’s money and I care not who writes the laws.” A truly independent Scotland must control its own money to be worthy of the description “independent”; anything less is merely cosmetic change with no substance.
The choice is clear: rule by the ruling elite and the banks, or real independence through Scotland controlling its own money.
Clive Menzies, London N13
No second-class PM – on stamps
The problem with Colin Burke’s suggestion (letter, 5 September), that the Yes campaign in Scotland should just send out a blank postcard to voters with a Margaret Thatcher stamp on it, is that the Royal Mail does not issue its prime minister stamps until 14 October.
But it is of interest that the four post-war prime ministers to be depicted (Attlee, Churchill, Wilson and Thatcher) are all on first-class stamps. Presumably they thought it would be too controversial to make any of the prime ministers second-class.
David Lammin, Boxford, Suffolk
boris won’t take no for an answer
So with the Thames Estuary airport as it was with the water cannon: Boris Johnson seems incapable of being told No. Well, incapable of understanding and accepting it, at least.
His self-belief is unquestionable – quite literally, it seems – as illustrated by his apparent refusal to take advice or instruction from those he is supposed to work alongside, those who “advise” him or those whom he is supposed to represent.
Now that he has become bored with the city he was given to play with, it only remains to be seen whether the public will be foolish enough to risk electing him to go lord it in the Commons.
Julian Self, Milton Keynes
United Nations is our only hope
Your front page (4 September) issued a challenge to President Obama as “the leader of the free world” – but that is the kind of thinking that perpetuates the problem.
So long as we continue to look to the “great powers” to sort out all the problems in the world, we will only store up more trouble. We cannot determine what is best for others. If we seriously believe that democracy is the best way to resolve political issues, we need to start acting as if we believed it. It is not up to America, Russia or anyone else to decide how the world should be. We need a forum where all parties, all countries, can freely debate and decide on the best course of action.
That is the true function of the UN, a key institution which has been shamefully sidelined and ignored in recent years. How can we expect anyone else to take notice of international law if we blatantly ignore it?
Simon Prentis, Cheltenham
too many cook’s pictures... The Independent has joined the trend (worst offender being the Radio Times) of littering the pages with pictures of Mary Berry.
I can’t help feeling that this unnatural adulation is a case of over-egging the pudding.
Nick Pritchard, SouthamptonReuse content