Odd boy out will come to grief

26th November 2004 at 00:00
If you have got any sense you do not pick a fight with someone whose father decided to call him Tyson. But then Chris has not got a great deal of sense.

Tall and angular, with curly, unfashionable hair, Chris took exception to Tyson barging into him. He decided that he was no longer prepared to play the victim. It had gone on for too long. Now it was time for it to stop, and he was going to show him.

After I had rescued him I explained that sometimes it is better not to respond, especially with an oaf who is as quick with his fists as Tyson. It is always better to go home with a full set of teeth.

Chris's problem is that his mother is convinced that he is gifted. He might be, but we have found no real evidence for this so far. He is bright and quick and easily bored but this does not make him gifted.

What his behaviour makes him is odd - a persona he has cultivated. "Look at me," he cries, "I am different. I am an individual. I am better than you."

Certainly he has a streak of arrogance that means one day he will paint himself into a corner as he so nearly did with Tyson.

His mother says that he is bullied because he is so clever. The incident with Tyson was certainly the action of a bully picking on someone who is different and of course it should not happen. But to threaten to plant Tyson one makes you a laughing stock if everyone knows that you cannot carry it out.

His mother is all too quick to embrace Chris's potential for martyrdom.

Everything is now confirmation of his genius. He is naughty in class because he is bored. He has not done his homework because it was too easy.

He is rude to teachers because they do not stretch him. He is underachieving because we do not give him a chance to overachieve.

Undoubtedly Chris is baited and teased by our cave dwellers. Is he picked on because he is odd? Or is he odd because he is picked on?

I defend his right to be odd but he has a responsibility not to make things worse. His carefully cultivated air of superiority annoys the others. He treats them with contempt.

Yesterday he appeared in the dining hall with a sticky label on his shirt on which he had written one word, "God".

It will all end in tears. Even my friend Tyson can understand this particular message.

Geoff Brookes is deputy head of Cefn Hengoed comprehensive school in Swansea

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