The issue regarding corporal punishment has reared its head again recently. The question being; should corporal punishment be brought back into schools? It’s a debate that fascinates me. I was born in 1967 and corporal punishment was administered. I never experienced this myself but recall my brother who is four years older than me telling me he; “Got the cane”. My mother has also recalled to me an incident in which she received the cane on her hands for screaming when a wasp stung her during a lesson. Both my brother and my mother have never held any malice towards the perpetrators of this punishment and they do not appear to be traumatised by it!
As a child I received the odd ‘clip round the ear ole’, and I maintain a perfectly loving and respectful relationship with my parents and always did. It never did me any harm. I was never beaten senseless and at the time and at this time, I knew it was fair.
I brought my own child up in very much the same manner as I was reared. A short sharp slap! I have discussed this over the years with my daughter and with various people who have represented an amalgam of views. I have argued that there is no room or time for discussion when a ten month has crawled to a plug socket and is about to stick its finger in it. A little tap on the said finger immediately followed by the simple word ‘no’, has always seemed quite reasonable to me. There are some things that simply do not need to be discussed with a child. My personal opinion is that we discuss far too much with children.
In the animal kingdom (It’s interesting we seem to separate ourselves from that), juveniles are disciplined by the whole pack or pride or whatever and this involves varying degrees of corporal punishment. They do not have huge riots, youngsters know their place and more beautifully, the elders are revered and respected. Is that an argument in favour of corporal punishment?
We have to distinguish between corporal punishment and domestic corporal punishment. The latter being when parents can physically punish their children. What I find most interesting is that the issue regarding poor pupil behaviour in schools is finally being acknowledged in the debating arena and people are actually suggesting backward steps which is what corporal punishment would be.
As a teacher, although I am appalled by poor behaviour I could never support or condone corporal punishment in schools. Neither now could I condone domestic corporal punishment. If I had a young child now I think I would be very reluctant to go for the short sharp slap tactic. Why? Because children seem to rule the world now and from what I see the hierarchy that is still strongly visible in other animal communities has sadly been demolished in our society. Political correctness, the suing culture and the very hazy area of ‘rights’ has totally diminished our senses!
There have been many debates regarding the ‘Nanny State’ that some people claim is what we are increasingly living under in the UK. However, we all want problems sorted out but there is a reluctance to define roles. Who exactly should sort out an ill-mannered and ill-disciplined child? Teachers? The government? Dare I suggest parents do it? Is that unreasonable?
I feel that too many people do not see or realise what teachers experience on a daily basis. All the issues that you see on the news, read in articles etc. we are there dealing with all this under immense pressure. Ideally, teachers should not have to consider discipline! All children should come to school and understand how to behave. If they don’t it really is quite clear-cut as to why. Do I have to point out its inadequate parenting?
So, we can’t go back into the dark ages and give kids a good old slap! Schools and colleges and babysitters are accountable to OFSTED so how about parents suffer OFSTED? This would cost millions. But, how about OFSTED scrutinises ALL parents first and leave the schools alone for a while so we can get on and teach. I know some areas where an OFSTED inspector would be eaten alive, but hey that would make it more entertaining! In fact, let’s go down that path and have all inspections filmed!
So the results could involve a family being graded as excellent through to being closed down! Social workers would have hell of an easier time too! Or put the family in Special Measures? Better still turn the family into an Academy and have some super parents or Jo Frost storm in, sack the parents and take over. It’s 21st century foster care but let’s give it a try because everything else is failing! More interesting still, how many people particularly those in power, would then object to such scrutiny and have more sympathy and indeed empathy for us teachers?