Call to reinstate caning in schools

By John Clare, Education Editor

CORPORAL punishment, formally abolished in State schools 10 years ago, should be reinstated without delay, an influential group of Christian educationists said yesterday.

Led by John Burn, chairman of the Christian Institute, the group called for a “fair, judicial and properly regulated system of corporal punishment which is open to regular inspection and is administered within a relationship akin to that of a loving and caring parent who sometimes needs to physically check a wayward child”.

In a pamphlet entitled Education at the Crossroads, Mr Burn, principal of Emmanuel, a Christian city technology college at Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, said school discipline had become a major issue, not only in urban and inner-city areas.

“Increasingly, with the demise of properly regulated corporal punishment and the refusal of many local education authorities and appeals tribunals to support governing bodies’ expulsions of violent disrupters, teachers have had to tolerate unacceptable levels of defiance, ill-discipline, vulgarity and threat,” he said.

Corporal punishment was outlawed by the 1986 Education Act after a 1982 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights. At the time, it was estimated to be in use in two-thirds of secondary schools. Calls for its reinstatement have been rare.

Mr Burn accused the “education establishment” of having drifted into moral relativism.

“The moral fabric of society is in tatters because we think, plan and legislate as if there were no spiritual and moral absolutes,” he said. “Those of us who work at the sharp end encounter daily the consequences of the collapse of moral values as it manifests itself in our schools.”

He ascribed the success of Emmanuel, a comprehensive teaching “ordinary urban children”, to the fact that its “life is underpinned by a view of human beings which derives from historical Biblical Christianity”.

The school had a strict uniform policy, firm discipline, a daily act of Christian worship, taught right from wrong, advocated sexual abstinence outside marriage and fidelity within it, and promoted the work ethic.

Consequently, it had virtually no truancy, excellent exam results – this year, 79 per cent of the pupils passed at least five GCSEs at grades A to C – and was heavily over-subscribed.

“Without spiritual and moral roots, schooling is built on shifting sand,” Mr Burn said. “Much of what we have achieved is replicable throughout the system.”



The Independent, London, 23 September 1996

What the kids say about smacking

ANDREW, aged 14, has been smacked by his mother and attends a private school where corporal punishment is practised.

“I didn’t think being smacked was good at the time. The wooden spoon was the worst. It hurt the most. I felt angry. I think smacking is good now because you know what not to do afterwards. Being sent to your room lasts longer but smacking it’s only like short and quick and with the same effectiveness.

“It’s good to be at my school because you don’t have to stay behind after school, you just have to stay for a couple of minutes for a smack or to have the paddle.

“If I have children, depending on how old they were, I’d smack them. For disobedience, anything that you tell them not to do and if they do anything bad in school.”

NICHOLAS, aged 11, has been smacked by his father.

“It was only if I’d done something really bad. If I swore then my dad would hit me once. He’d smack me on my leg. It was fair but I didn’t really like it. If I had kids I”d smack them but only if they were really bad. I’d only hit them once. It would teach them.”

DANIEL, aged 11, has been smacked by his mother.

“When I give cheek to my mum she smacks me. It doesn’t stop me. I feel bad, but not for long.”

MARK, aged seven, has never been smacked.

“Mum and Dad just shout at us. Sometimes I feel I want it to be over and I just think about other things and I don’t really listen.

“If someone smacked me I’d feel like smacking them.”