Instead of discussion groups, witness statements or counselling, the children involved were given a real baby to care for.
At first, I thought that this rather theatrical intervention was concerning itself more with the act of caring for another living thing rather than anything else but I was only half right as Mrs Trellis explained more.
The important part of this exercise was crying.
The crying of the baby.
For when the baby naturally cried when it was hungry or wet or uncomfortable the children automatically tried to pacify it. They showed natural empathy and concern for the baby and reacted in a positive way to its tears.
It was hoped that this reaction to the crying baby would be transferred to a positive reaction to the crying of a fellow pupil and according to Mrs Trellis, the experiment worked and levels of bullying decreased.
True or not, the story is an interesting one.
I am reminded here of the reaction of a boy of around six to William when they came face to face outside the school at home time. The boy, after making his usual fuss of the ever avuncular Winnie pointed to William's noticeably odd blind eye asking what was the matter.
I told the boy and his mum that William was blind and to approach him from his good side if he wanted to pet him.
The boy, as young as he was, carefully reached out and rubbed the gentle William on the chin with one hand, and gently covered his bad eye with the other.
" poor little boy" the boy cooed
Empathy is a wonderful thing