As a teacher of young children, I empathise with Raffles Institution (RI) graduate Joshua Teo (RI grad rises above physical, social and academic challenges, Feb 20).
Young children can be quite mean, but they mostly mean no harm when they toss casual remarks and ask insensitive questions.
Teachers and parents can do a lot to mitigate the situation, though, and teach children important social skills.
The classroom is a shark pool. Teachers and parents might want to linger before and after class, and observe the interactions. Much can be learnt about who needs help.
Negative attention can be diverted from the timid and scarred.
Mean children can be corrected, outside the class and gently.
Personal, casual conversations with the small fish and those at the bottom of the food chain can offer much appreciated friendship and emotional support.
Teachers are the blue whales. They are friendly creatures in this sea of confusion, acting as role models, friends to turn to, policemen and protectors of those who need a hiding place.
I am glad Joshua managed to overcome his childhood struggles with the help of his parents and other adults.