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Home > Media

Journojism: Beating the bullies

29 June 2005

Tom Cruise gave a perfect example this week of how to cope with bullying, when he stood up to that idiot with the water pistol and repeatedly used the word 'jerk'. But obviously it is easier for Cruise than for your average timid, uncosseted, non-Hollywood superstar schoolchild. Thankfully, the Daily Mirror was on hand on Wednesday to provide a handy 12-point guide to how to beat bullies in the real world.

'It is an ugly, cruel and unnecessary part of school life and is a source of misery for millions of children.' Thus began Clare Raymond's sombre analysis. 'More than two million youngsters in the UK are bullied at some point in their school years,' she added, neglecting to ground the statistic in any kind of temporal framework. She then went on to detail the heartache and the helplines, the impact bullying has on kids' 'education, relationships and even their job prospects in later life'. Every year 10-15 of them are even driven to suicide. It is then, an extremely serious business. Who better to back the Mirror's Beat the Bullies campaign therefore, than professional bully Simon Cowell? Cowell told the Mirror on Monday, 'It makes me feel unbelievably helpless when I read in the newspaper about children who have been driven to suicide by bullies. I just wish they could have called me and I could have done something about it.' Aww. The big softy.

The Mirror's 12-point guide kicked off with some reasonable suggestions of what to do if you're 'a playground victim', such as tell someone; find out about your school's anti-bullying policy, don't show bullies that you are upset or angry, etc. But then it just descended into otherworldly weirdness, mostly centred around 'lunch money'.

'9. MAKE up funny or clever replies in advance. They don't have to be brilliant, but it helps to have an answer ready. Practise saying them at home. If the bully says: "Give me your sweets," you could say: "OK, but my dog licked them so they don't taste very nice."'

There are so many things wrong with this piece of advice that you have to wonder if Clare Raymond ever actually went to school. Certainly her knowledge of comprehensive education at least, seems to be based entirely on her memories of Grange Hill. Gripper Stebson may well have initiated a spot of intimidation with the phrase 'Give me your sweets', but let's face it, he probably didn't. Even Gripper was harder than the bully in Clare Raymond's head. A more likely opening gambit in reality might be, 'Yo, gimme that fuckin' iPod before my mates film me cuttin' your face off.' A child heeding Raymond's advice might at this stage be clearing his or her throat, ready to deliver the rehearsed line, the humiliating bon mot: 'Ahem. Why, certainly. However, you should be aware....' Biff, whirr, slash. IPod gone, face on floor, film online.

'12. MAKE a list of all the good things you can think of about yourself. Talk to yourself in a positive way. Say: "I may not look like a film star, but I'm good at maths and have a brilliant sense of humour."'

This final point may be a self-help standard, but we feel it's also very personal for Clare Raymond. We feel almost certain that this is the tenet by which Clare lives her life. Every morning before sitting down at her laptop, she stares at herself in the mirror. 'I may not write like Tony Parsons,' she tells herself, 'but I've met Simon Cowell and have a brilliant....' Then she bursts into tears and knuckles down to the garbage.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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