16 September 2011

"Who did it? Was it Captain Lancaster?"

Glory, glory, hallelujah
Teacher hit me with a ruler
The ruler broke in two, so she hit me with a shoe
And my bum went black and blue.

Corporal punishment is under discussion today. A survey has suggested that more than half of parents questioned would approve of its return in secondary schools.

I got smacked on the backside with a slipper* and also a twelt on the palm with a 30cm ruler** during my primary school days, but fortunately for all concerned, corporal punishment was outlawed a year or so later.

You can't justify violence against kids in any circumstances whatsoever, even if the kids are evil and spiteful, which, let's be honest, some clearly are, and even if they are big enough to fight back.

I suspect the parents who would care for the return of corporal punishment are a) parents of kids who never get in trouble (and therefore, if their kid ever got a lawful twelt on the palm with a ruler, would complain to every individual and sue every authority in existence); and b) parents who don't instil enough discipline at home and think their child's behaviour in school is the school's responsibility.

Campaigners in favour say it will make kids learn discipline. My view is that it will make them more shrewd when it comes to getting found out, and glamorise the use of violence for allegedly "positive" reasons. The short-term pain for the kid will be to the long-term detriment of everyone else.

Also, the "never did me any harm" brigade consistently fail to notice that it did do them some harm, as they now advocate the beating of children in a civilised society rather than accept that their own experiences should be something they wouldn't wish on anyone else.

Lastly, a lot of kids in school get unfairly punished for stuff they didn't do. Any kind of punishment for an innocent person is one punishment too many, but if it involves physical discomfort and mental scars, then that is unforgivable.

I'm being a right lily-livered sort here as I don't know what the best answer really is. I know I'd like parents to back the schools a bit more when news comes through of a child being bad. But I'm pretty certain that smacking children under 16 is the worst answer of all. Moreover, I suspect that teachers themselves would simply refuse to administer corporal punishment even if it was re-introduced.

*telling a dinner lady to "go pick yer bum", if you must know. I was seven and totally stitched up by an 11 year old tell-tale tooley at my table. I still actually hate him quite a lot even though I barely ever saw him again.
**genuinely can't remember what the crime was, but I remember the teacher and room concerned and was therefore eight years old.

1 comment:

Jon K said...

My mother used to hit me with a shovel, never did me any harm