ADVICE columnist Fiona Caine offers her perspective on family dramas, emotional issues and dysfunctional relationships
MY SON’S BEING BULLIED
Q My son has always been a bit overweight but he’s really not fat.
He’s eight years old and the other children at his school have started to bully him and call him names. Now he doesn’t want to go to school anymore. I’ve tried talking to his teacher but she says the school doesn’t have a bullying problem and won’t do anything about it.
A At one time bullying was seen as an unfortunate but inevitable part of school life, but that’s no longer the case.
Bullying can have a devastating effect on the victim and it’s unacceptable for those in authority to allow it to continue.
Make an appointment to see the headteacher.
It would be quite understandable if you went to the meeting feeling upset and angry but try to stay calm.
Ask to see the school’s anti-bullying programme to see whether there are any policies in place that will help resolve the problem.
The only way to stop bullying is for everyone to understand how unacceptable it is and for the school to have an ethos and culture that respects everyone in it.
Of course, your ultimate option would be to send your son to another school, but I hope it won’t come to that.
FRIEND HAS TURNED NASTY AFTER ARGUMENT
Q I used to be best friends with a girl but we fell out when she said I was cheating in a game (I wasn’t).
Since then she has been really nasty to me and made my life horrible.
She started posting untrue things about me on social networking sites and sending false messages in my name.
Now everywhere I go, people ignore me or call me names. My mum is ill, so I don’t want to bother her about it, but I’m so unhappy.
A You’ve been subjected to what is known as “cyber-bullying” and, just like regular bullying, it is deeply upsetting and damaging.
If your former friend has hacked into your account to send messages, I suggest you look at how to make your account secure.
It might be a good idea to check your old messages to see what has been sent to other people and write to them explaining you’ve been hacked.
Contact BeatBullying (www.beatbullying.org.uk) as I really think the charity will be able to help you. It has lots of experience and can provide you with support.
The CyberMentors programme has helped a vast number of people to resolve and move on from difficult bullying issues.
LEGAL FORM IS CAUSING ROWS
Q I have asked a friend to witness my signature on a legal document.
She was fine about it and so we went ahead and I returned the form to my solicitor.
Now she’s changed her mind and said she doesn’t want the responsibility.
I’ve tried to explain that she’s only witnessed my signature and isn’t in any way involved with my business, but she was adamant.
We had a huge row about it. I told her it is now too late and too expensive to go through the same process again and, since then, we’ve hardly spoken to each other.
I wish things would go back to normal.
A I suspect someone or something has scared your very cautious friend and if she won’t listen to reassurances from you, would she listen to anyone else?
Would a letter from your solicitor reassure her? Bear in mind, she could be called upon to testify in court and I suspect it is this possibility that is worrying her. Have you asked how much it would cost to do the document again? It may not be as much as you think.
Other than that, there is probably little you can do except to hope, in time, she will come around to accepting the situation.
Make sure she knows how you miss her, though, and tell her that you value her friendship.