Do not force the issue

2nd December 2005 at 00:00
Now 13 and settled in Year 9 in a selective grammar school, Suzanne (not her real name) used to cry as her father's car drew up to the school gates.

Her parents feared she was being bullied, but Suzanne and the school insisted that she was not:

In November, in Year 7, I was on the school bus and the boy next to me was sick all over me. The next day my friend was nearly sick. After that I got worried about going into the classroom, in case someone got sick.

The school chaplain came with me to help me get on the bus in the evening, but I couldn't. She said my mum would be angry and she was disappointed, she thought I could do it. I think she gave up on me. I felt I was being forced into it. My mum didn't know what to do and she was trying to make me get on the bus in the morning by dropping me at the bus stop, but it didn't work.

I had lots of days off school. I'd have a day off, and the next day I didn't want to go so I had that day off, then I'd say one more, and then another, sometimes I had a week off. The school phoned home to check Mum knew I was home, but they didn't do anything else.

It wasn't because I was nervous of secondary school: I was excited and I had friends. It just happened, but I got over it gradually. I realised after a while nobody had been sick in the classroom.

I got back to school after the Christmas holidays, and in Year 8, I started going on the bus. People shouldn't force children to do things, they should let them get back into whatever they are scared of slowly.

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