No-blame approach to bullying, Muslims as targets of hate and others

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The no-blame approach to bullying is not working

The no-blame approach to bullying is not working

Sir: I couldn't agree more with Kidscape about no-blame bullying policies (report, 4 August).

This charity Bullying Online, which had more than 8,000 emails last year, also gets many complaints from parents about bullies getting away with their behaviour under the guise of "no blame" or mediation.

Schools seem to be afraid of doing anything about a vicious minority of pupils who terrorise others. We recently had one girl who explained how once a mediation session finished the bully simply resumed her behaviour.

I take issue with George Robinson, the architect of the no-blame bullying approach, that his method works better than any other policy that's around. Parents and children get very upset at the thought that the bully has got away with verbal abuse and physical attacks. They are also fed up with being told that they should make allowances because the bully has problems.

With two such diametrically opposed views on how to deal with bullying from Anti-Bullying Alliance members, it will be interesting to see which method is considered "best practice" and attracts funding from the Government's new £570,000 anti-bullying strategy.

Bullying Online
Harrogate, North Yorkshire

Sir: Re your report on the continuing bullying problem in schools, we suffered from this a few years ago, and found, as in the examples you mention, that the "no blame" approach may have applied to the perpetrator but it certainly wasn't to the victim.

It might have been quite funny watching the contortions of the head teacher and staff as they tried to show how it was all our fault for not tolerating the problems of the "deprived" children who we knew were responsible.

Unfortunately, it was our family that was suffering. Eventually, fed up with being treated as the problem, we withdrew our son from the local state school and home schooled him. This process proved, at least to our satisfaction that a couple of enthusiastic amateurs can do a whole lot better a job than a school full of so-called trained professionals.

We were sad to find that our local comprehensive school was obviously no suitable place for a quiet child with academic interests, not only in our view but in the view of a number of other families we met after the event. What greater indictment can you think of?


Muslims are the new targets of hate

Sir: Ismail Patel's article "British Muslims are bewildered and scared" (5 August) hits the nail on the head. What all Muslims feel is that we are the new targets in a very old game - there must always be someone to hate so that the fascists can direct their energies towards it.

History shows that the Jewish people were the old targets, but now that they have positioned themselves in the most valuable places in society, they have been saved from such persecution. So it is the turn of the Muslims to be attacked on every front. The same attacks that the Jews suffered against their religious beliefs, their achievements and their heritage, we see it all now.


Sir: I was pleasantly surprised by the article titled "British Muslims

are bewildered and scared", as it presented a view that is almost unanimously held among "mainstream" Muslims in this country, while most non-Muslim organisations and people hardly see it that way.

I hope we get more coverage in the future on the views of the representative majority of Muslims, not the small minority that nevertheless manage to do the most damage to our image here and elsewhere.

Loughborough, Leicestershire

Sir: In his article, Ismail Patel seems to refer to an imaginary Jewish force within Westminster. As a non-Jewish MP, the notion of a power bloc consisting of 50 Jewish MPs is laughably wrong, as a momentary reflection on the very different characters in the House of Commons would immediately prove. There are in fact only 21 Jewish MPs and I believe it is unhelpful and insensitive to generalise with regards to their background.

What is also slightly disturbing about Mr Patel's article is the suggestion that because of the entirely legitimate efforts being made to deal with the problems caused by a small number of extremists in the Muslim community there is some form of animus against the Muslim population as a whole; the vast majority of the Muslim population are peaceful and law-abiding and this is certainly recognised by their fellow citizens.

Vice Chairman
The Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism
London W1

Sir: It is hard to read Ismail Patel's article without pondering what Tony Blair's reaction would have been if a Muslim country were holding white non-muslim Britons in Guantanamo Bay type conditions. It is hard to imagine that he would display the same lack of concern as reports of the nation's soldiers torturing prisoners emerged. It is difficult to picture him shamelessly fawning up to the detaining nation's president and harping on about the "special relationship" that we enjoyed.

No "special relationship" is more important than the rights of our citizens, whatever their colour or religion. It is time that Mr Blair showed some real strength and moral fibre and publicly demanded the release of our remaining prisoners.

Clara Vale,
Tyne and Wear

Sir: Ismail Patel suggests that British Muslims are currently suffering a "dangerous upsurge in Islamophobia". I would argue that there would be far less risk of this if the British Muslim community made clear that they condemn all forms of terrorism, whether in the US, Israel, Iraq, Spain or elsewhere, and explain what they are doing to try and eradicate this evil from their community.

I have no doubt that much of the Muslim community are peaceful and law-abiding, who want only to practice their religion whilst living as British citizens. The fact that some of their number do, unquestionably, support and engage in terrorism, means that it is time for the community as a whole to demonstrate their abhorrence - not just by carefully-worded press releases which state that they "do not agree with the killing of innocents" (leaving open the question as to who is an "innocent"), but by outright and clear condemnation, both in the press and within their community.

London EC4

Sardinian pips

Sir: In his fascinating article on the Sardinian grapes excavated near Cagliari ("The answer lies in the pip: Sardinian discovery rewrites the history of wine", 4 August), John Phillips states that grape pips and sediment have been excavated dating to 1,200BC which indicate wine production, possibly of a variety native to Sardinia.

Whilst this may very well be true, the following statement that this could therefore prove to be the earliest date for known wine production in the Mediterranean is not. Nor is it true that 1,200BC was the time that the world saw the rise of the great civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt.

Both areas had seen developed civilization for at least 2,000 years before this date (the Great Pyramid of Cheops dates to around 2,600 BC, for example), and evidence of wine production and consumption in Egypt, the Levant, and Anatolia (the last two being part of the Mediterranean region, if not in Europe), dates back to at least 3,000BC, if not earlier in the last case. At 1,200 BC, the Mycenaean Greeks had been quaffing the stuff for 300 years or more, and undoubtedly the Cypriotes and Minoan Cretans had been doing likewise for several hundreds of years previously.

The 12th century BC is, ironically, the century during which the Bronze Age civilizations of the Eastern Mediterranean began to falter and disintegrate. Possibly because they had drunk too much wine!


Palestine Exploration Fund
London W1

Sven's affair

Sir: Your celebrities commenting on the goings on at the Football Association headquarters ("Should Sven stay or should he go?", 4 August) seem to have completely missed the point.

Everyone concerned with these affairs should be fired for gross misconduct. After all, it is supposed to be a working environment for the benefit of football, not a sex dating agency.


Sir: I truly hope that Sven-Goran Eriksson leaves his job as the England football coach soon, if not tomorrow.

We don't deserve him, and the way the public and media thrive on personal intrusion for interest has been the cause of almost all the problems during his tenure.

I also hope that the disgusting way he has been treated forms a robust enough deterrent for anyone who is thinking of applying for the vacancy, so we can all feel the guilt about the way we publicly treat the private lives of people doing jobs involved with sport or the media.

Sleaford, Lincolnshire

Sir: Has your adventure in tabloidism gone to your head? Why on earth do you think that Independent readers want two full pages, in colour, on what one middle-aged, unmarried man does in his spare time?

London W11

Sir: When did a sexual relationship between two unmarried people become an "affair"? It certainly has not been a "scandal" since about 1963.


Sir: I had never realised that football could be so interesting.

Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire

Shetland's seabirds

Sir: Disastrous breeding failures among Shetland's seabirds are not "entirely unprecedented" (report, 30 July and Letters, 3 August). Some species, such as arctic terns, produced no young during the period 1984-90. Shetland's seabirds bred more successfully after the Shetland sandeel fishery was closed for several years.

It is odd that the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and FoE argue that climate change is causing a catastrophe in seabird nesting in Shetland. Surely sandeel fishing, which has only been subject to tighter restrictions since earlier this year, is a far more likely explanation for low numbers of sandeels and consequent seabird nesting problems.

I do understand the temptation to blame every new problem on climate change, but in this case the scientific evidence does not support that interpretation.

The Scientific Alliance
London WC2

Fancy fish

Sir: Philip Hensher's article "There's something fishy going on" (5 August), made interesting reading. It's been known for a while that cod stocks are dwindling, and Mr Hensher isn't the first to wonder whether this hitherto humble fish will soon be elevated to the culinary high ground.

I can't help wondering whether, as a result of this, the species will enjoy being re-named as sea-cod. After all, that's what happened to the species previously known as "bass" some 15 years ago.

Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, Anglesey

Buddhist message

Sir: The destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas by the Taliban (Letters, 3 August) reinforces the central message of Buddhism. The understanding of impermanence is a key step on the road to detachment. Perhaps the remnants, and the various emotional reactions to them, are not a hateful reminder, but a positive instruction in Buddhism.

Hounslow, Middlesex

Youthful ignorance

Sir: I am afraid ignorance of history in this country is even worse than you report ("Youth poll gives Gandalf real role in history", 5 August).

It was not Sir Francis Drake who led the English fleet against the Spanish Armada, but Lord Howard of Effingham.

London SE22

Speedy revenue

Sir: I agree with Johann Hari when he justifies the use of speed cameras (4 August). If the Government intended them solely to make money then by now they would have a camera in every box running 24 hours per day. Such a revenue would provide the opportunity for a substantial reduction in income tax ensuring their victory at the next election.

Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire

Boney businesses

Sir: I do wish you'd stop telling us how government departments and big businesses anticipate terrorist attacks by preparing alternative premises and - er - skeleton staff (report, 4 August).


Wasted windows

Sir: What does Tom Cornish ("Recycling envelopes"; Letters, 3 August) do with the windows of his envelopes?

London N1