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Teepees in the Highlands

It is as if someone could not wait until April 1. Two days after Christmas the Daily Record came up with a tale so apparently genuine that it had an "exclusive" label slapped on it. A Highland mother and daughter are fed up with bullying, especially at school, and have gone American native. For Ronalda and Rebecca MacIntosh read the new Nevada Blue Sky and Phoenix Red Star.

Ms Red Star has attended Dingwall and Fortrose academies and suffered abuse at both. While that is no laughing matter and the two schools would no doubt welcome innovative strategies to cope with the problem, change of identity does not appear to offer an answer. Mrs Blue Sky and her daughter say they have been into native American culture for some time. They hope that the powers of magic will make a difference, with the prospect of a medicine man on the horizon. But being squaws in Easter Ross is no way to anonymity.

For all one knows, indigenous Americans could see off playground bullies, but their record in self-preservation is not one which would immediately attract recruits to their ranks.

Dingwall will not become another Wounded Knee. Yet the Indians were usually the bullied rather than the aggressors. If the erstwhile MacIntoshes want to ride bareback into security, they might have been better to hitch their fortunes to, say, Genghis Khan's Mongols who did not allow Gobi sand to be tossed in their faces. Closer to home, MacIntosh clan history might have thrown up other no-nonsense role models.

Each school has its anti-bullying strategy, and no doubt has to have it written down, otherwise HMI will deliver a ticking-off. So far no one has suggested converting at-risk pupils into Red Indians, much less challenging the school's computerised management information system by inputting names like West Lothian Grey Sky (cf Nevada Blue Sky). Still, no stone can be left unturned (but not thrown) in the effort to deter bullying, and there is a major conference later this month on creating positive discipline. Nevada Blue Sky and Phoenix Red Star should be invited to the pow-wow.

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