News / London

Beat the bullies with politeness, says London's Miss Manners

Sometimes there’s nowhere to run.

What does a child do when faced with a bully and they have nobody to turn to? A new initiative in London has the answer: it’s all about etiquette.

“We want to teach children how to put their best foot forward despite whatever circumstances they are facing,” said Wendy Mencel, director of the city’s newly established Canadian School of Protocol and Etiquette.

“For instance, helping children with their social skills helps against bullies,” she said. “The initiative in the school system is: walk away and tell an adult, but sometimes there’s no place to walk away to and there’s no adult.

“What do you do in that situation?”

The answer, she says, is to stand up to aggressors —politely.

“Bullied people will instinctively look down. We teach them to look people in the eye and say ‘No,’” Mencel said. “We teach social skills that will help in any situation, that let people understand you mean business.”

It’s all about giving the confidence to cope in any situation, whether it’s a schoolyard clash or an evening of fine dining.

Mencel, who’s a certified etiquette consultant and an Anglican minister, explained: “This isn’t about learning how to curtsey or how to sip tea with your pinkie out — which you should never do, by the way, because it’s bad etiquette.

“It’s about equipping children with social skills that in a very competitive global market will help them to succeed.”

Mencel’s driven to help young people, and she’s direct about why.

“I want to teach children that they don’t have to be a victim of bullying,” she said. “They have the skills and the tools within themselves to deal with it.

Etiquette lessons

  •  The Canadian School of Protocol and Etiquette is presenting workshops called Stepping Through: Social and Dining Etiquette For Kids.

  • As well as anti-bullying, they cover topics like first impressions, with that all-important handshake and eye contact combination, dining skills, interview skills for teens and social-media etiquette.

  • The workshops start Sept. 28 at Covent Garden Market.

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