Tough head in ‘cane the thugs’ storm

Pupils need protection he warns

By Harry Cooke

HEAD MASTER Roy Hilton’s tough stand against playground thugs landed him in the centre of a school row yesterday. For Mr. Hilton has warned that he intends bringing back the cane as an “ultimate deterrent” in his 1,400-pupil comprehensive school.

cuttingHis warning has brought angry protests from some governors of Kirk Balk School, in Hoyland, near Barnsley, South Yorks.

And former head mistress Miss Wilhelmina Dunnett is seeking legal advice following reported comments by Mr. Hilton at a governors’ meeting.

But yesterday the former Army officer said: “I am not a Victorian hanging and flogging reactionary. I believe in reasonable discipline and the use of the cane in certain circumstances.”

Trouble started when Mr. Hilton took over as head of the school two weeks ago.

He immediately ordered children to clean graffiti from walls and organised litter collections.

At his first meeting with the governors he declared that he believed in discipline and the threat of the use of the cane was essential to protect the majority of pupils and staff from thugs.

But Miss Dunnett, 60, who was awarded the C.B.E. for services to education, told yesterday how she wept when she heard of Mr. Hilton’s policy.

“It is like bringing back hanging,” she said. “I have never used a cane in my whole career. I had all the canes burned when I became head at the school 12 years ago.”

But Mr. Hilton said: “I will not back down one inch on the general principle — I am prepared to cane a thug.

“Parents have the right to expect that their children will be protected at school.”


Corpun file 14120


Daily Express, London, 25 September 1976


Off with the kid gloves for school thugs

MANY readers have written to support Yorkshire head master and former Army officer Roy Hilton who plans to bring back the cane, even though it was banned by the school’s former head mistress. These are some of their letters.

cuttingTHREE very loud cheers for head master Mr. Roy Hilton for wanting to bring back the cane at his school.

A putty medal for retired headmistress Miss Wilhelmina Dunnett, who banned it there originally.

At long last we have a man who is prepared to punish the classroom thugs.

Wake up, Miss Dunnett, and admit that the kid glove has worn out — long ago.

NORA WARNER, Bournville, Birmingham.

CONGRATULATIONS, Mr. Head Master, and may your stand gain support of every law-abiding citizen. The playground thugs of today will, unless checked, become the pack-hunting vandals of tomorrow.

R.R. KNOWLES, Brixham, Devon.

I WOULD recommend all secondary school heads to adopt the same attitude as Mr. Hilton.

I am aged 20 and when I was at school I went around with the more disreputable section of the pupils for some time. Tough disciplinary action did me no harm and taught me that I could not always have my own way.

It forced me to study harder and I am now intending to go to university or a polytechnic.

Without strict discipline at school I am certain I would not have got on as well as I have.

C.H. REED, Lowestoft, Suffolk.


Corpun file 14121


Sunday Express, London, 26 September 1976

Don’t they give a damn for the victims of the bullies?

By Anne Edwards

ISN’T IT time that the old bogey of Tom Brown’s schooldays was reassessed?

Last week — prompted by a head master who announced that he intended to bring back caning into his school, and the ex-head mistress of the school who said that she wept when she heard that caning was being restored — the old caning controversy was in the news again.

cuttingThough it puzzles me why there should be any controversy at all.

It astonishes me that any journalist can refer to a cane as “this infamous instrument of torture.”

It frightens me that so few people seem to equate the disappearance of Six of the Best with the increase in school thuggery, with teachers being physically attacked, with the more and more frequent reports of bullying in schools resulting in misery or broken bones or even suicide among the sad little victims.

Would that 15-year-old girl who was bullied unmercifully for 18 months and finally set on by four girls who cut her face and blackened her eyes — would she have taken an overdose?


Would that 15-year-old boy bullied at school have killed himself? Would the 13-year-old child who ran away from home, the 14-year-old who told of her hair being pulled out, the 13-year-old who goes around now with a broken neck in plaster, the 12-year-old Thalidomide child kicked in the face with studded boots — would these children have had to endure this misery if the bullies who caused it had been threatened early on with the cane?

Of course there must be safeguards, of which the best is a wise and tolerant head master. Of course caning should not be used freely or for minor misdemeanours as it once was in some schools and of course it should not be administered by senior boys.

But selectively used against the bullies who resort to physical violence against a smaller or younger child. Oh, yes.

Tell me this. If it were proved that your son consistently bashed or kicked a smaller boy, if he terrorised a youngster by working him over like some Mafia gangster, if he fought only when he was bigger and stronger and was one of four against one — wouldn’t you want him caned?

Abolishing the cane protects the bullies — and leaves the weak defenceless.

Gentle children have no need to fear it. Bullies damn well should.