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School days best of life?

PUBLISHED: 10:33 11 January 2008 | UPDATED: 19:24 05 July 2010

YOUR school days are said to be the best of them all.

Before growing up and entering the big wide world of bills, work and worry, your childhood and the time you spend at school should, of course, be worry free and full of fun.

YOUR school days are said to be the best of them all.

Before growing up and entering the big wide world of bills, work and worry, your childhood and the time you spend at school should, of course, be worry free and full of fun. But sometimes, this ideal isn't always the case and the realities of what should be a happy time turn out to be very different.

I was recently reading a newspaper article about a 14-year-old girl who hanged herself after being bullied; only a year after an 11-year-old boy from the same school committed suicide after suffering at the hands of bullies.

The story obviously highlights the problems of bullying which still persist within our schools but it also brings to lights other important issues about our schools and the young people who attend them.

Despite teachers promising that they are doing all that they can to try and combat children being singled out by other pupils it is still going on and schools know it. I don't think schools do the best that they can to see it from a child's point of view - zero tolerance policies are the best and only realistic thing that can be done. If a child is found to be a bully they should be expelled. Perhaps then, and only then, the bullies will see the realities of what they have done and what it feels like to be segregated from the majority.

But, of course, to determine which individuals are the bullies, their peers need to make it clear to the adults around them.

This is where schools need to look at things from a youngster's angle - no one wants to be seen as a tell-tale, running the risk of becoming a victim themselves. So often it seems that when you're at school it's more about fitting in and being accepted than any of the educational side.

To make life simpler it's so easy to fall into the trap of keeping quiet just so you don't draw attention to yourself. Schools must ensure that they enable their pupils to confidentially pass on information of any areas of concern that they may have.

Identity is important to all of us but sometimes in schools this is taken to a whole new level - if you don't have the “correct” clothes with the “correct” labels, you become a target.

There's another step schools can take - a strict uniform policy for pupils with no “labels” allowed. Things won't change until schools take the upper hand and show some real discipline. Until then, it won't be long until we're reading another story of a childhood suicide.

Children who are at school should always feel that they have someone to talk to and parents who have children away at university should get into the habit of a weekly phone call, email, or even a comforting (and re-readable) handwritten letter. No more short lives should be wasted and if it means expelling bullies and listening to our children then so be it.

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