Monday, April 27, 2009

Bullied at School
It doesn't matter whether you are Tom Daley, or anyone else - the truth is Bullying hurts and it HAS TO STOP.

I stayed up late this evening especially to listen to a radio show that was highlighting this issue that is a perennial issue in schools throughout the world – Bullying.

This is as a result of a high profile child, Tom Daley, who because of his high profile as an Olympic Diver for the UK, has become a target of terrible abuse, yes abuse, by other scholars at the school. (If scholars is the right term for them – probably scoundrels would be better). What he has had to endure is terrible.

My heart goes out to young Tom, who beyond his diving ability, sounds like a decent young lad, just trying to get on with his life. The constant jibes of 'speedo boy' and 'diver boy' and the physical attacks – being rugby tackled, and 'kneed' where they come up behind him and knock him in the back of the knee so he loses his balance and people threatening to break his hands and his legs. If I were Tom, I would be more than fed up – I'd be petrified – and that is exactly the effect that the bullies are trying to achieve.

Listening this evening, I was less than impressed with the statement issued by the Local Education Authority. They are simply issuing platitudes and have no interest or inclination to actually pursue the matter and hold the head to account for her lack of action in this regard. Are we to conclude therefore that they will only act when Tom is actually seriously injured – maybe when the boy carries his threat to break Tom's legs and one of UK's prospective Olympic medal hopefuls is unable or unwilling to compete?

I also want to commend both Tom and his parents for resisting the temptation of taking the law into their own hands. Tom's parents have, I believe, done their best to go through the right channels and only after finding that they have been ignored by the school and higher up, they decided rightfully to go public. What is happening to Tom is terrible – not because Tom is an Olympic Star but simply because he is a child and like EVERY child deserves to be protected.

In my previous two blogs, I addressed the issue of name calling and discrimination when it targets people with disabilities, and I objected to terms like spastic, cretin and retard. But this story has made me realise that being on the other end of the scale – being a bright, intelligent, gifted person, often also opens them up to unnecessary and uncalled for abuse. NERD, GEEK, WIERDO, BOFFIN, and the list could go on. Very articulate and artistic children often fall foul of the bully too. Tom targeted because he is a top class diver. Another father spoke about the abuse that his daughter was experiencing at school – I reiterate – I use the word ABUSE, because that's what bullying is and whereas people do not seem to be to perturbed by 'bullying', the moment the 'A-word' is used – it gets people's blood boiling – and I think people's blood should be boiling.

It's no good for schools and government authorities to wring their hands and express regret when one pupil kills another pupil by stabbing them. These actions NEVER happen out of the blue. It does not help, if the school sends a contingent of young school friends to the funeral of a pupil who killed himself after having not been able to handle the ongoing abuse of other students. The time to act is when the problem emerges – when the first signs of a child experiencing abuse are reported.

As was said in the programme this evening – there is no school ether Primary or Secondary where NO bullying takes place and any staff that are living under the illusion that there is no bullying at their school ought to extract their heads from the sand and open their eyes – because it is going on. This DUTY to protect goes beyond merely having policy and sticking a few posters up around the place. School staff should be very vigilant.

  1. Reality ONE: Just because bullying is not being reported does not mean it is not taking place. Children are afraid to report it for fear that it will bring on worse bullying. Merely saying that they need to report it, and mentioning it in assembly is not going to convince the very frightened child to speak up. This is another reason why I believe the word ABUSE should be applied to this issue. Just as children are scared to tell if an adult is abusing them, and it is a teacher's task to take note of certain 'red flags' that may indicate that a child is being abused, so, teachers and parents should be looking out for 'red flags' that a child is being bullied. One such red flag is a child who was previously thriving and enjoying school suddenly either bunking, or trying to avoid going to school, or saying that they hate school.
  2. Reality TWO: Even the 'little angels' in the class can turn out to be bullies in the playground – oh and girl bullies are just as vindictive and nasty as boy bullies, though their tactics are usually less physical, but no less dangerous. We should avoid stereotyping a bully into a'bigger boy' and just deal with each child whether the bully or the victim of bullying as individuals and handle each case as it presents itself.
  3. Reality THREE: If a child comes to you (as a teacher or a parent or some other significant adult in their lives) with tears in her eyes, asking for help – she's not wanting you to load on her a lot of advice on how to deal with the bully. Can I say, if it has this stage, it is like telling a rape victim she shouldn't wear such short skirts. When the child comes to you, don't try and find out why your child being picked on – act to get it stopped. I refer back to the Tom Daley situation – given the nature of the threat made to him, his father is within his rights, especially since the school has failed to act, to report the matter to the police. It is against the law to threaten another person with violence. If the child had stolen something from the shop, most store managers would call the police, not the school. If someone threatens to do violence to your child, you are well within your rights to take the matter to the police.
  4. Reality FOUR: The rhyme that goes 'sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me' is the BIGGEST LOAD OF BALONEY. Whoever first came up with that nonsense, may be able to make a rhyme or two, but they have no foot in reality. The truth is words can ban be a very strong weapon. It has been said "The pen is mightier than the sword" – meaning that words – written down in this case – can do a lot more damage than beating up a few people. This whole recent government scandal that was exposed where the 'special adviser to the PM was going to use a website to make serious, but spurious accusations against key people in the opposition party, so as to damage their reputations – which fortunately was exposed before it could do any damage – nonetheless had potential to destroy people political careers. Name calling and any other form of verbal attack should not be dismissed as banter. Just because hurtful words come out of another child does not make the matter less serious. ACT on it, and ACT on it sooner rather than later. Asking the victim to modify his or her behaviour in order to avoid the bully or the bullying is, to my mind, to, to some degree, actually blaming him or her for that abuse.
  5. Reality FIVE: In the age of technology and the Internet, bullying is no longer confined to school grounds and outside the school gate, but is taking place online, in chat rooms, through social networking sites, and via the mobile phone. This online bullying is no less frightening than the child in the school grounds – indeed it can be MORE frightening as oftentimes the perpetrator is not easily identifiable – and so they issue threats – and the child does not know who to trust. If your child has a mobile phone, tell him that he may not divulge the number to anyone, even among his friends, unless he has first passed it with you as his parent/guardian. Friends do fall out, and sometimes when they have fallen out they can become very vindictive and may use the number to get at your child. Likewise email addresses should remain private. If they have social network profile (ensure that your child is legally old enough to have that profile.) – make sure you have access to it, and that you can monitor it regularly. The child may complain and say that his friends are being allowed to do whatever it is. Remind him or her that you will do what you believe is wise and best for them.
  6. Reality SIX: A child does not come out of a normal home background and bully another child just for the heck of it – there is usually something that triggers the bullying behaviour. THIS IS NOT TO BE VIEWED AS EXCUSING THE TERRIBLE BEHAVIOUR, but it is necessary to try and understand what it is that makes a child behave like this to another child and by addressing the cause, and helping the bully understand (because they sometimes don't understand it themselves) why they are hurting other children, they can be shown better ways to handle that problem and not resort to bullying behaviour. It is not sufficient to simply tell the child to stop bullying, taunting or teasing. The child will not stop, they will just become more sly and underhand about he or she goes about it. To stop the behaviour, the cause must be identified (and the cause lies within the bully and not the victim) and however long it takes, the child must be made to face the issue and deal with it, or if it is something like the child is being abused, as is sometimes the case – then that child needs to be protected – in whatever way is necessary and from whoever is meting out that abuse.
  7. Reality SEVEN: Below in the videoclip you will see an interview with lady called Barbara Coloroso who wrote a book entitled The bully, the bullied and the bystander. Many, not all, bulies do the bullying in an attempt to boost themselves in the eyes of their peers. They have this stange idea that if they victimise somebody, it will prove that they are big and tough and in-charge. Unfortunately the effect of this is to intimidate the majority of other kids into going along with the victimisation of the bullied kid, sometimes out of the fear that if they refuse to call names or join in they will become the next victim. Children must become aware that if they see someone else being bullied or become aware that someone is being being bullied, they MUST tell an adult. It may be that their friend tells them 'a secret' about somebody who is bullying them. Children as young as four or five these days are told there is a difference between a good secret (What Mummy will get for her birthday present) and a bad secret - and the secret that a friend is being bullied is a bad secret and it is RIGHT to tell an adult about it. The friend might be angry with you - but in the end, they will understand that you HAD to tell.

Let's not trivialise Bullying as has been done for far too long – we really need to understand the real effect it has on the victims – and as individuals, as school communities, as government, act vociferously to tackle bullying head on and let us have statistics relating to bullying regularly published in the papers an on the media. Just as we watch the unemployment and the inflation figures avidly, and parents look to school league table to try and find the best schools for their children we should be publishing official figures relating to bullying in schools and these figures should be on the decrease year-on-year or the minister of education should be called to account for the fact that there is no improvement. If the figures either continue to rise, or simply remain static, for two years in a row, the minister responsible should be asked to resign. That's how strongly I feel about the matter.

I am no fan of permanent suspension as they call it these days. (We used to say 'expelled') I do believe that that should be very much a last resort for only the recalcitrant offender who despite several attempts to reform his/her behaviour, still persists in the victimisation of other children. However, if the last resort needs to be resorted to, the suspension must mean something. It is not a licence for the child to go to another school and continue the with the abuse.

My suggestion would be that it would be far more useful to reassign the child to another school - but that for a predetermined period (based on the child's age and the nature of the abuse that resulted in the suspension) the child will not be integrated into a class but will have to attend school but learn in a secluded environment under the supervision of a teaching assistant, with academic work supplied by the class teacher and sessions where tutoring can must be organised so as not to disrupt other students learning program. The period of seclusion should also be used to counsel the child concerned and to prepare him or her for reintegration into regular learning. The goal should be reintegration. After reintegration, the new school must monitor the situation closely for the safety of all concerned. It should be kept in mind that a previous bully may become a target for bullying by children at a new school and that would not be a good outcome.

I attach some links for you to look at and listen to in relation to Tom Daley's story as well as other relevant articles.

Some more general sites that can be of help to young people who are being bullied and their parents.
If you are a young person who has come online – searching the words Bullying and come on my page – welcome – thanks for stopping by. I urge you to look at these sites – they will reassure you that you really are not alone. Most importantly you need to tell someone – the same advice goes out to any child whether he or she is 5 or 17. Do not suffer in silence. (watch the video clip) "Bullying is not just an education issue – it is a community issue."

For the parent whose child is being bullied: Lots of resources here for a desperate parent – haven't looked through them all but my guess is that they will have sound advice – if you feel I am mistaken feel free to draw my attention to it.

I do not speak as some academic expert o this subject. I'm just another Joe Bloggs (excuse the pun) sharing my thoughts – I however did experience it myself to a certain degree when I was at school because I was perceived as being weaker than they were. I'm also a teacher and care very much for my students well being – physical and mental.

I came across this teacher's blog - quite by chance and thought he had an interesting approach. .

"Bullying is not normal, natural or necessary" Watch this video clip that highlights the issue.

In this video there is an interview with Barbara Coloroso, auther of the book"The Bully, the bullied and the bystander." Details of the book, are below.

The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander: From Preschool to High School--How Parents and Teachers Can Help Break the Cycle of Violence
By Barbara Coloroso
Edition: reprint
Published by HarperCollins, 2004
ISBN 006001430X, 9780060014308
240 pages

Please comment on my blog – I really appreciate the feedback.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Hate speech – Part II

First of all, thanks to those who have responded either here on the blog, or on my Facebook Note – your comments are much appreciated. It is heartening to think I have played a roll in informing some people who, it would seem did not realise the impact that these kinds of words have. If you have not already read Part I – it is here. Johnny's blog: cretin, spastic, retard, ... is this hate speech?

Right – now I'm assuming everyone knows what this is about.

All I was hoping to do, in my own little way by putting that into my status, was say that these words which I mentioned are not acceptable and that I objected.

Teacher TV has nominated this week as "anti-racism" week –

I do not know if they ever have a week where they deal with the issue I am trying to highlight here – the negative stereotype and abuse (directly or indirectly) of people who have disabilities. However, it is useful to look at racism as a parallel, and to understand that just as someone does not choose to belong to a certain racial group, one cannot choose not to be disabled, and discrimination based on disability is as wrong as racial discrimination or any other type of discrimination.

I am aware that most countries have laws against discrimination against disabled people, just as they have laws against racial discrimination, but just as racial discrimination still persists in society, although people are not as blatant as they used to be, so also, disability discrimination still takes place, and there too, people become adept at disguising it, so as to get away with it. One of the ways people discriminate is in the language that people use and especially how they label people.

People who refer to other races by negative or pejorative terms (usually whenever they think they can get away with it) carry in their heart a bad attitude towards others. Now, I know, that most people either out of fear of legal reprisal or simply awareness that it is in bad taste would not ridicule a person with learning disabilities to their face, but the fact that they are willing to talk like that behind their backs means that they still carry within them the prejudice and lack of understanding for people with needs.

I am making these comments - not because I was insulted, but because I think that the use of those terms is an affront to people with disabilities in general.

Apparently, racism is the belief that one's own racial group is superior to another's. Well, many people hold the belief that they are superior to people with disabilities. In our modern world, discrimination starts before birth. A pregnant woman has a scan done – or an amniocentesis – and discovers that the 'foetus' (its easier to speak of it in those non personal terms) is going to have Down's Syndrome, and decides or pressurised to have an abortion. People will say to the woman – you did the right thing – after all you spared 'it' a miserable 'existence'. I'm sorry – this is not a cat or a dog that can be euthanized. Who is to say that the existence will be miserable. Most people with Down Syndrome, while like most people have their down days, by and large are very cheerful and happy. The thing is, and I think this is where the real rub is, children with disabilities need a lot more input and investment, birth in terms of time, and money, and people are not willing to put that in. People also decide that they will put in a lot of hard work for very little 'reward'. I don't know what they perceive as reward – but to my mind – if you are blessed to have a child who calls you Mummy or Daddy (even if that is with sign language or by gesture) – you already have a most marvellous reward.

I had to learn to rise above the actions and comments of small minded people who look down on others because I was different. At school, other kids would tease me about something that was related to my disability (which was much more obvious then than it is now. Part of my coping mechanism, was to 'ignore the comments and keep on keeping on, and sometimes, when dealing with school bully that is the best approach. But, when one hears the same sniping comments over and over, it is hard NOT to let it get to you. There comes a time when you must say 'enough is enough'.

Martin Luther King Junior, a hero in my eyes - took a stand. He lead the Civil Rights Movement in the US during the 50's that got racial segregation and racialism outlawed in the USA. Now as a minister of religion, if he had just minded his own business - kept going to Church on Sunday and being subservient and submissive to the white folk - he would have had a comfortable life, probably retired to a nice little home somewhere - and who knows he might have been alive today - he would have only just turned 70. But he could not sit idly by and accept the abuse being inflicted on his people a day longer - and so he stood up, and he decided to join the Civil Rights movement.

If it weren't for the Rev Martin, there probably would be no Barack Obama today.

While I know and am grateful that disabled people are not discriminated against to the extent that black people were back in the 50's, and that in terms of Civil Rights, Disabled people are recognised as having rights. That is good, but is it good enough? I for one don't think so. And I will use my little soapbox - called my Facebook Status to shout about it and to stand up for the right of people with disabilities to be respected.

I may not be the Martin Luther King for the disabled cause - but it was not only MLK who marched on Washington. Many people marched alongside him. One of the most poignant speeches that Martin Luther King ever made was his "I have a dream" speech.

MLK envisaged a time when children would not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character –

I would like to say let a time come when people are not judged by their physical appearance or by their academic achievement or by any other superficial and unnecessary measure but, as MLK put it so clearly, by the content of their character. Character, you see, is something that transcends all of these other things – and I have found that mostly, not always, people with disabilities display many wonderful character traits.

Jesus said that we know a tree by its fruit (Matt. 7:16) and in the book of Galatians, we read that the Fruit of the Spirit is Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control. (Gal. 3:22-23)

Other positive character traits that I have noticed among people with disabilities, are: determination – they keep on trying, keep at it, even when it hurts or they are tired, they are persistent; the ability to forgive – when they have been wronged, I have seen that they are ready to forgive and move on; sense of humour – they can laugh at themselves and see the funny side.

Finally, I remember when I was in Primary School, my headmistress, Mrs. J. had a sticker on her car – it read "Disability is not inability." To put it in another way, because a person has disability, does not mean they are incapable of doing anything. I was about 10 when I saw that sticker – I am now 40 and it has stayed with me all these years. It was a good thing for people with disability to hear and to apply in their lives – but it is also good for people without disabilities to hear and apply in their lives – in terms of their perception of and attitude towards people with disabilities.



is not



Monday, April 20, 2009

Recently I posted a status on my Facebook Profile that went as follows:

That I object to the use of the terms 'spastic', 'cretin', 'retard' etc. that have been used to insult and humiliate people with disability. We, as society, by and large have managed to eradicate the use of racial slurs, now let's unite against slurs against people with disability. Even using these words to insult an able-bodied person is not acceptable.

I was quite amazed by the responses of people, and from the comments I realised that they didn't quite understand what it was that I found so offensive. I was grateful for the two 'likes' I got, I did feel that I should explore this topic a bit more deeply, and thrash this issue properly.

I think it would be reasonable to state here that I grew up in a society that had racism at its very core, and although I personally was not subjected to hearing racist terms used all the time, I was aware of many of these terms, as any child growing up in that environment. Terms that one utters at your peril in today's society, and rightly such language is no longer tolerated. In writing this blog, in the hope of bringing to the fore another set of terms that I think should be viewed with equal disdain and disapproval.

Yes this group of words are those above that are connected in some way to people with disabilities. I will admit that some of these terms already are not so common any more. I'm also aware that many of the people who use these terms may not be aware of the disability connotation and thus may not be aware just how offensive the term is. I invite any person who knows of a person who routinely or even occasionally uses the words I'm speaking about here, to visit this blog and learn about what it is they are actually saying.

People who don't know me well, and certainly those who are just looking in here by chance or because my thing popped up on a search engine, will not realise that I have a physical impairment (we used to just say 'a disability' but apparently is not correct terminology any more). I was born without a properly functioning thyroid gland – a condition known as congenital hypothyroidism, literally that means that my thyroid gland was under-performing. Left untreated, or even if the condition is picked up too late, brain damage occurs and the result is a person who has stunted growth, and whose natural intellectual and physical development is severely affected. Such a person cannot expect a long life-span, and would be reliant on carers throughout his or her life. I was fortunate, no I'd say I was blessed that in my case the condition was diagnosed, for what at the time, was regarded as very early – 2 months – and so the brain damage that had occurred up to that stage, was halted and was minimal in comparison to what it might have been. The small amount of brain damage that did occur did not heal, but it did not get worse. Incidentally, today, this condition is routinely checked when a baby is born, in most western countries, anyway.

This blog is not about me but about this language and why I object to it. Before the term hypothyroidism was in vogue, children were referred to as cretins. I have always thought that the term derived in some way from "The inhabitants of Crete" – but a quick search online and I see that there are other ideas about this. The Wikipedia article suggests one possible origin is from a certain Alpine dialect of French and the way they pronounce the word Ch├ętien – meaning Christian. Cretinism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopediawhatever the origin of the term, it was formerly used to describe people with congenital hypothyroidism – it is now used as an insult, and is generally taken to mean someone with such a low intelligence as to make them ineducable. It is for this reason that I find the word to be very insulting and unacceptable and on behalf of those who have the misfortune of having learning difficulties, I will speak out and object to this kind of speech. I saw a website that I will not advertise here where people were defining the words I have listed above, and more besides, but in the most hurtful and unnecessary way. Using words like cretin, only serve to deepen the prejudice against people with disabilities.

A term, that I admit I have not heard used for a long time, but I have since discovered by looking at the aforementioned website, is in use today, along with certain derivatives is spastic. The derivatives are spaccy, and spazz, to name a couple. I have just learnt that 'a spaccy spot' is a disabled parking bay. Today we refer to people with Cerebral Palsy. Cerebal Palsy (CP) is as a result of brain damage that occurs shortly before, during or shortly after birth. It affects different people differently and it effects are determined by the location of the damage in the brain and the extent of that damage. It typically manifests with physical impairments, and people with CP may be unable to walk properly, may have difficulty grasping things and may have their speech affected. The person may have learning difficulties, but this is not necessarily the case and should not be assumed to be the case. An organisation called SCOPE represents people with Cerebral Palsy in the United Kingdom and if you wish to find out more about people with Cerebral Palsy and truly engage with the reality that is Cerebral Palsy and not merely adopt the stereotypic ideas, go to their website. Homepage : SCOPE. Interestingly, SCOPE was previously known as the Spastic Society. For obvious reasons, this name was changed. When I was a child attending a school for the handicapped (as they were at that time known), there were a number of children in attendance at that school who were referred to as 'spastic' who had Cerebral Palsy. Today, with inclusive education, most children with Cerebral Palsy are educated in the mainstream, though there are still schools that cater specifically for children with CP too.

"Tropic Thunder" was a movie that was released last year that brought the next term to the fore: retard. At the time, when I heard that it contained this word and it was used in the way it was, without seeming to make it clear that calling someone a retard was not acceptable I was one of many who was calling for a boycott. Of course, I was a voice calling in the wilderness. However, I would like to say again here and now that calling a person 'retarded' or a 'retard' is hugely insulting and unkind, and as I am advocating here, part of hate speech against people with disabilities. The term comes from a shortening of the term retarded development and refers to a person whose mental age is significantly behind their chronological age. You may meet a man of 40 whose mental age is about 10. They are very innocent, and very susceptible to suggestion, so, can justifiably be referred to as a vulnerable adult. It is not something to be laughed at or made fun of, and so this is why the term retard is no laughing matter. If you are so unfortunate as not to know anyone with learning difficulties as such people are known in the UK, do yourself a favour, and I am not being sarcastic, try to get to know one. Just be polite, and kind and you will find that this person will be open and accepting of you. NB: Make sure you have the permission of the person responsible for their care first.

I have already written a lot and I have not nearly finished venting my spleen on this matter, but that will simply have to wait for another day and another post. I am going to publish this and I reiterate: PLEASE POST YOUR COMMENTS. I approve (or delete, where necessary) each comment. Please let me know of other terms that you think could constitute hate speech against people with disabilities.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Jade Goody - R. I. P.

Jade was famous... for being famous it seems. She rose to fame as a Big Brother contestant. She participated in a second Bib Brother show in which she famously let rip at the Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty - and through that famous outburst caused the show to be suspended for a season as she went completely off her head and said some very offensive things. Jade, when she came out realised she had been very silly and apologised for her outburst she showed real regret, and then amazingly went to take part in yet another Big Brother show - this time in India. It was during this show, that she discovered that she had cancer - the cancer that would ultimately kill her.

Jade was 27 - and she had two little sons, Bobby and Fred. Many would on getting this devastating news would run away from the spotlight - demand their privacy and draw into themselves - and that would be understandable. Jade on the other hand took a different approach - she knew that her celebrity meant that the media would be wanting to cover her story and that thy would pay - she knew that she could get mre money for the story and so she allowed the media access and got money for her boys future.

In the kindest way, Jade was not known for her Intellect - and her genral knowledge was abysmal to say the least, but here was a lady who had grown up very fast and put the needs of her boys ahead of her own needs. Even though she is their mother and such attitudes go with parenthood, it is still something to be admired from a suffering lady.

Time was running out on jade and she took in my view three interesting decisions.

1) She Married her boyfriend.

2) She was baptised and had her boys baptised too.

3) She requested (so it is alleged) that her boys be spared the funeral.

In a day and age where marriage is being written off as just a piece of paper - Jade bucks the trend again in the right way, I think by marrying the man she loved. So for that Jade gets my congratulations.

The baptism - now that was interesting to me. As she stared death in its face - she knew that it would not be long before she would close for the last time, and she had this awareness that there is something beyond this life - something more. By being baptised as an adult she would have had to make a public profession of her faith in Jesus Christ. Some may sit with their arms crossed and with a cynacle glare and question the genuineness of her faith. I would caution however against that, and rather take her at her word. I find it hard to believe that anyone would given Jade's predicament, go through all of that, for 'appearances sake' - Nobody would have thought that she had not been baptised - it would not have occured to anyone. So her decision to be baptised was both a wise one and a brave one. She had her sons baptised too - now again - this is a biot controvertial. Baptists and Pentecostals (as I am) don't believe in infant baptism, since the baptisee cannot speak for themselves. These two little boys would in my opinion still be classified as infant baptisms even though they can speak for themselves. The decision was clearly not theirs but their mothers (and presumably their dad agreed.) However, I think in Jade's case it was a good decision. What - am I speaking heresy - let me explain. Having decised to be baptised herself - clearly Jade believed it was important and what Christian Mother would not want to be a witness to that occasion. Jade would miss out on birthdays Christmases, Easters, and other special occasions but this - this she could could witness and I think that in the memories of those little boys will be the day that they and Mummy were baptised. I hope it endures as a very happy memory and that they will be able to one day, stand up in Church and make that confession of faith for themselves.

I was baptised as a baby. My parents made promises to bring me up in the Lord, and I believe that they faithfully lived up to that promise, but when I was 14 - I went on a youth camp and on Easter Sunday of 1983 - I was baptised by full immersion, making a public declaration that I was a follower of Christ.

If you are a Pentecostal or Baptist believer do not look down on the traditionalist who have their children Christened as babies. That is judging them. Nobody is forcing you to do the same, but accept that they have a different outlook on things. Give praise to God that they bring their children to Church - that is not something that necessarily happens anymore. In the past, unless a child was of a diffenrent faith altogether, they were brought to the nearest Church to be 'done' but now in our post modernist society, it is an usual thing to happen and usually, can't say always those who take the ceremony seriously.

If you are of the more Traditional perspective don't judge us Pentecostals or Baptists either. We believe that first a person must make the decision to follow Christ, and then mark this by water baptism. Baptism is symbolic of cleansing from sin, that is accomplished by Jesus death on the Cross. It also represents death to the world and rising up, in Christ.

If you have not been baptised but believe in Jeuss Christ, while i would not go as far as some who make baptism a requirement for salvation, I would say it comes highly recommended. Speak to a Pastor or a leader in your Church about the possibility. If you were 'done' as a baby but feel the need to do it properly, speak to your leaders - they will I am sure gladly talk you through it. (I do not see a problem with a second baptism - it merely confirms and underlines the commitment made on your behalf - it is like the 'Confirmation' that is done in many churches and even Confirmation can be an empty ritual. )

However while baptism is not a condition for salvation, commitment is. Have you committed your life to Jesus Christ, acknowledged him as your Saviour. Do you believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and no one can come to God except through Jesus? Do you believe that Jesus died o the Cross for your sin? And that if you come to Him, he will forgive you your sin, and will save you - and ultimately we will spend eternity with him.

Speaking of eternity, Jade's decision regarding the boys not attending the funeral - well it was a decision made with good intentions, and to that extent we can understand. maybe given the public nature of the funeral, it would have been overwhelming for the boys but here is where I am inclined to disagree. I think it would have been quite acceptable to separate the public expression of grief, and the private family farewell to daughter, wife, and mother. The boys, in a STRICTLY private ceremony have been allowed to say good bye to their mum. Let them say their last good bye - lay a bunch of flowers on her coffin (preferably closed) and say in effect 'good night Mummy' - we will see you one day. The boys need to understand that their mum was very sick and that now all that hurting is over - and she is resting, with Jesus.

I think a graveside ceremony where they see a coffin being lowered into the grave - or at the crematorium where the coffin gets taken into the furnace - that could be difficult for anyone to watch, but a funeral service where the coffin is at the front - that is not a problem.

However, having said that, I do honour Jade and say - well done young lady - you 'did good.' R.I.P.