I’d give school bullies a taste of their own medicine

As a mother whose youngest has just started secondary school, I’ll admit that I’m on the alert for stories of youngsters being targeted by gangs of older teenagers.

But this week, two sickening incidents remind all of us, even if we don’t have children, of the horrors of bullying.

Exhibit One: A viral video of a group of four boys standing around in a park in Romford, Essex. Without warning, one of them punches another hard — very hard — on the side of his head.

The boy goes down. He lies on the ground, stunned, struggling to get up. His ‘mates’ howl with delight. One takes his phone.

Another says: ‘Get up, big man, get up.’ He tries, staggers to his feet — and they hit him again.

Exhibit Two: A young Asian boy with dark brown eyes and a sweet, gentle expression kills himself just weeks into his first term at secondary school in Bradford.

He was found hanged in his bedroom by his mother, just hours after telling her that he wanted to change schools. Police say he may have been targeted by a group of sixth-formers and there are witnesses who say they saw the boy being forced to lie down so others could take turns kicking him.

Both could be scenes straight out of Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 film A Clockwork Orange: brutal, ugly, horrible.

Of course, this kind of violence has always existed. My father, now 70, played the violin as a child, and this made him a target for bullies at his grammar school.

He couldn’t risk damaging his precious instrument, so he learned to fight with one hand.

Back then, corporal punishment still existed in schools. Children were beaten regularly by masters, creating an atmosphere where violence, or the threat of violence, was ever-present.

The aggression began at the very top, with adult authority, and ran all the way to the bottom, with the result — so critics argued — that brutalized older boys would inevitably bully smaller children.

Part of the reason Britain finally did away with corporal punishment in schools in 1986 was to break that cycle. Physical retribution by adults against children, whether in loco parentis or at home, became utterly taboo.

It is a view which I share. Or at least I used to — until these exhibitions of juvenile savagery made me begin to doubt myself.

Because, if the opponents of corporal punishment were right, these teenage thugs have no earthly reason to be this violent.

They have not been raised by the cane or the slipper. They are meant to be the gentle ones, those who grew up free of violence — and should therefore be violence-free.

And yet here these bullies are, as brutal as any harsh Victorian disciplinarian.

And it’s not just boys, it’s girls, too. Only last week, a 15-year-old schoolgirl was arrested for violently assaulting a 13-year-old and uploading the footage to Snapchat.

But if the violence isn’t emanating from teachers or parents, where is it coming from? Is it simply in the nature of the strong to oppress the weak? Or do they learn it from the internet — that great open sewer?

I can’t answer those questions but one thing I do know: if that was my boy lying on the ground begging for mercy through snot and tears, I would not be ‘voicing my concern’, or seeking to understand the attackers’ motivations or requesting a meeting with their parents.

I would want these bullies brought to me, one by one. And then I’d pull their tracksuits down and cane their bare bottoms until their cheeks burned red and they wept with pain and shame.

I would give them a serious taste of their own medicine. Because yes, we live in ‘enlightened’ times, but sometimes there is only one language people understand.